Monday, December 21, 2009

The Places That Scare Us

By Martha Nichols for Adopt-a-tude

A few more thoughts on "Find My Family" and a holiday wish.

On tonight's episode of Find My Family, Tina said she just wanted to know if her birth son was happy and healthy. When she learned he's in his twenties and doing fine, she said, "I could be done right now."

Of course on this ABC show she wasn't done. Tina went on to meet her son Tim. Whether those of us watching Find My Family are birth parents, adoptees, adoptive parents, or not part of the adoption triad, we know such cathartic moments often lead to disappointment.

Yet that doesn't make the intensity any less true. I've come to believe that celebrating such moments matters.

Not every adoptive family is a happy one; not every birth parent wants to be found; not every adoptee is "lucky" or traumatized by loss. We all come to this issue with our own loads of baggage.

But most of us are able to handle many conflicting feelings. We can love more than one mother or father. Love is not an on-off switch or the simplistic binary of Hollywood movies or the National Enquirer. What's most transformative about adoption is the way it allows us to extend the boundaries of love; it validates the rich complexity of life.

For me, it's ironic that a reality show like Find My Family presents more emotional nuance than you'll see almost anywhere else on TV. I admit, I was on the defensive when I watched the first episode, after reading dire warnings from other adoptive parents on sites like Rainbowkids. The soapy formula, the tearful hosts, the relentless happy endings put me off before I'd experienced a second of it.

But after the first episode, I felt divided. Artificial as the format seemed—and that glowing "family tree" on a heavenly hillside is still hard to take—it couldn't squelch the feelings of the participants.

As a result, I sought other responses to the show from different perspectives in the triad. The range of reactions to these Adopt-a-tude posts has made for a bracing conversation. It hasn't been an easy discussion for an adoptive parent like me. But it's a necessary one, I think, and I find that my frame of reference has changed.

I'm still concerned about the show's melodramatic pitch and telling edits. Yet despite its flaws, I'm drawn to the undeniable gut impact of these stories. (Click here for my reaction on Open Salon: "Find My Family: Why Reality TV Sometimes Works.")

I want to thank fellow adoptive parent Lisa for her honesty in sharing how she grapples with these issues. I recognize myself in her. I thank Claudia, a birth mother, and David, an adult adoptee, for their passionate defense of the show. The journey I've gone on is nothing to compare with the walk up the hill of those previously lost souls David speaks of in his review; that's something I can only imagine—yet I am able to imagine it now, an unexpected gift.

My wish? That we carry this conversation forward. That we hear each other's pain and accept it. That we form alliances.

"What is it that allows our goodwill to expand and our prejudice and anger to decrease?" asks Pema Chödron in The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times.

We may not want to train as "warrior-bodhisattvas," in the words of this Buddhist nun, but recognizing how interconnected we are—"to grow in understanding that when we harm another, we are harming ourselves"—makes sense to me. As Chödron writes,
"Our personal attempts to live humanely in this world are never wasted. Choosing to cultivate love rather than anger just might be what it takes to save the planet from extinction.... So we train in recognizing our uptightness. We train in seeing that others are not so different from ourselves. We train in opening our hearts and minds in increasingly difficult situations."
I thank you all for stopping by Adopt-a-tude and helping this op-ed-zine to thrive. May the new year be illuminating, too.

Friday, December 18, 2009

No More Lost Souls: An Adopted Person’s Response to “Find My Family”

By David Biddle for Adopt-a-tude

This is Adopt-a-tude's concluding review in a series about the ABC reality show Find My Family, which first aired in the United States this past November. Each episode involves the reunion of an adoptee with his or her birth parents. Click here to watch recent episodes.

Find My Family pushes different buttons for adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive families. These differences emerged in the comments to adoptive parent Lisa's post this past Monday. In our second post on the topic, Claudia spoke about the show from a birth parent's perspective. Now David weighs in as an adult adoptee.

We'd like to invite the whole adoption community to keep talking and debating together about the issues raised by this show.

What I hate about reality shows is that the stories are often contrived and artificial. You name it, Survivor, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, The Longest Race, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, reality and the human experience give way to gross-out, gamesmanship, and goofiness.

Find My Family is different. There’s real human drama on display here. There’s no question that the footage of adoptees and birth parents learning the truth about long-lost kin is one-take, real stuff.

I can only imagine what watching this show feels like for the millions of adoptees out there still searching for—or at least wondering about—their birth parents. As a successful searcher (we found my birth mother six years ago), I think watching Find My Family does a good job of getting across to viewers the deep emotional issues that adoptees confront as adults in the world.

It has a simple premise: the hosts introduce adopted adults, interview them about their need to find their birth families, and then perform a search for the long lost. Once the object of the search is located, the hosts interview that person as well. The final meeting between the two lost souls—and, believe me, you get a hefty dose of what it means to be a real-life lost soul when you watch this show—is then filmed. Let the hugs begin.

Find My Family is definitely a full box-of-tissues tear-jerker. You cry when you listen to the story of why the adoptee finally decided to begin a search; you cry when you understand how frustrating a search can be with all the dead ends; you cry when the show’s hosts, Tim Green and Lisa Joyner (adoptees themselves), deliver bad news and good news; you cry—sometimes uncontrollably—in the reunion scenes; and you cry during the final scenes as the adopted cavort with newly found siblings and parents in lush parks or quaint middle-class American kitchens.

I may be biased, but in my opinion the adoptees and their birth parents in Find My Family are capable of showing natural emotion on a level that makes even the best actors look like they’re getting paid millions of dollars to be fakes.

Without a doubt, placing the reunion search detective story—that’s exactly what it is—on prime time is an interesting move for a major network like ABC. And it comes at a perfect moment in history for those of us adoptees who believe that we should have more rights to identifying information and our original birth records.

Groups like Bastard Nation and Adoptee Rights are growing more and more militant as states continue to control access to information that might lead adoptees to their birth families. It is very likely that this issue is going to be highly charged in 2010. Adoptee Rights is organizing a national demonstration set for July in Kentucky at the Annual Summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

There is no question that the stars of this show are the adult adoptees. Their birth parents are also heroes. The defining moments of the hour come when the adoptees walk up a special hill towards the “Family Tree,” a real tree under which the birth parents (or a sibling) wait. Watching that lost soul climb a long hill towards the answer to life-long questions is powerful, even if the symbolism is a bit heavy.

One quibble I have is that adopting parents don’t have a very big part to play in these tales. We get to meet some of them, but they certainly don’t get center stage. It’s easy to see why, since the drama and existential struggle of adoptees and the parents who had to let them go is so profound.

But still, I’d like to hear at the end what the adopting mom or dad thinks when the child they raised and loved all those years has found a new mom, dad, brother, or sister. Adopting parents are often as emotionally invested in the reunion search as their adopted children.

Obviously there’s some contrivance built into how the hosts tell these stories. Details are sometimes dropped in for dramatic effect. The settings tend to be highly beatific; the film crew is definitely looking for a Hallmark™ feel to scenes (and, not surprisingly, Hallmark is an advertiser on the website). The show’s participants are often perfectly coiffed, wearing heavy makeup.

I only bring this up because what is so appealing about Find My Family is that the producers can’t choose actors or even attractive amateurs. There are only so many people who are adopted and willing to have their stories told to the world on TV. As such, the “stars” are completely real people—your neighbors, co-workers, or classmates.

This is important, because the identity issues adoptees go through are really not that much different than what anyone goes through: Who am I really? Where did I come from? Why do I feel all alone?

In many ways, all people are orphans in the world. We grow up. We leave home. We have to deal with life as solitary agents. Adoptees just have to face that their entire lives.

Find My Family, of course, portrays only the successful and positive stories of reunion searches. For every wonderful, loving re-connection the show depicts there are at least as many—and probably more—searches that don’t end well. I’ve heard too many tales of weird scenes with birth families, and sometimes the trail can lead to graveyards, mental institutions, and other depressing conclusions. Perhaps Fox should one-up ABC and consider offering something along those lines in 2010.

But despite the flaws, Find My Family does an excellent job of getting across to America what it’s like to be an adult adoptee. Here are some recognizable statements in the first few episodes from my own life and the lives of my adopted peers: “I’ve always had to deal with abandonment issues.” “I felt trashed.” “This is the look of Complete!” “Oh my God, he looks like me! This is so weird.”

In the end, this show is going to empower a lot of adopted folks and at least their birth moms to stand up and be counted as examples of fortitude and grace. In this age of high-profile divorces, celebrity adoptions, and philandering heroes, Find My Family is an antidote to the cynicism and edge that continue to seep into our lives.

Call me old-fashioned, but if I’m going to let TV enter my life, I’m more interested in plot and character development than I am in being entertained. I’ll take hugs, kisses, crying for joy, and everyday people pouring out their hearts on camera any day over people who make fools of themselves pretending they’re important.

TV should be an adjunct to our individual quests to figure out what life is all about, not an escape hole. Find My Family admirably provides the former, and in this way is truly life-affirming.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Birth Mother’s View of “Find My Family”: The Best Thing to Happen to Adoption

Guest Post by Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy for Adopt-a-tude

This is Adopt-a-tude's second post in a series about the ABC reality show Find My Family, which first aired in the United States this past November. Each episode involves the reunion of an adoptee with his or her birth parents. Click here to watch recent episodes.

Find My Family pushes different buttons for adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive families. These differences emerged in the comments to adoptive parent Lisa's post this past Monday. We'd like to invite the adoption community to keep talking about this together. 

Claudia began posting about Find My Family on her own blog when the show first aired and agreed to do another take for us. A post by an adult adoptee will follow later this week.

After watching the pilot episode of ABC's new reality show Find My Family, as a birth mother, I was truly surprised by my reactions. I had expected to find aspects of the show to be scripted and hokey. I’d expected to feel a sense of "happily ever after" that doesn't always correlate with adoption reunions. I’d expected to be annoyed that ABC glossed over the fight for adoption records and adoptee civil rights.

What I didn’t expect is that the network would pull off the show as well as it has.

I really do think that Find My Family is the best thing to happen to adoption since...well, I don't know since what! Even Madonna being called a "baby stealer" in the tabloids pales in comparison.

After Episode #2 of Find My Family
Now I’m even more convinced that the show provides the public with a much-needed public education in terms of the reality of being adopted and the truth of how adoption can affect lives.

When I watched the pilot episode, I tweeted and crowd-sourced the reactions. Of course, ABC knew it had a built-in audience based on its Extreme Home Makeover series; people eat up those feel-good sob stories. All they really needed was a Ty Pennington-type dude who came with an adoptee pedigree. Tim Green was bred for the job.

On Twitter, it was obvious that ABC had hit gold. I could almost see the tears pour out as America's collective heartstrings were not merely pulled but yanked. I had expected I would not be able to escape tears. After all, as a birth mother, I don't have to imagine feeling the emotions portrayed in the 23 noncommercial minutes per adoption tale; I’ve lived it since I was 19.

But to realize that others could feel the pain and joy, and see how it was often bittersweet, hokey or not…it won me over.

ABC's Neatly Wrapped Emotional Bomb
The adoption community was all abuzz about Find My Family, but our reactions are expected. Even with many adoptive parents feeling put out by the name of the show and the implication that ABC was devaluing their role—and real concerns that it doesn’t accurately show the difficulties in adoption reunions, that it has an almost rushed feel that goes with a lack of preparation, and other cries of emotional exploitation by ABC to make a buck—there’s a truth to Find My Family that cannot be dismissed.

The people who do go forth and let the cameras into one of the most emotional and intimate times of their lives are real. What they feel and how deeply they feel it cannot be faked, and it shows.

What I hear the "contestants" on Find My Family express are the same sentences I have heard word for word many, many times in the last ten years as I’ve deeply involved myself in learning from the lives of other adoptees, birth parents, and even adoptive parents.

What's more, I know it's real. I have experienced it myself throughout the adoption separation from my infant son and the search and subsequent reunion with him and my family. These quotes from the show ring true to me:
  • "That is where I always belonged"
  • "I have thought about you every day for my whole life"
  • "I don't want to find her, I need to find her"
  • "It's my legacy"
  • "I don't know who I am"
  • "I just want to know"
Oh, I still feel strongly that ABC has an obligation to educate people about the fight for adoptee rights currently happening in this country. I was happy to hear it at least alluded to in Episode 2 when Ashley says "the laws are against me." Maybe with time, the producers will speak the truth about how it is only archaic and unjust legislation sitting on the books that keeps our 6 million adult adoptees from having the choice to find their families.

But even if that does not ever happen, Find My Family is still a very great thing for adoption and adoptee rights.

Show Normalizes the Desire to Search
For too long, the mantra about adoption has been that "so many babies are unwanted and need homes" with a "so many people who deserve to be parents can't" sprinkled in for good measure.

The end result is that we have a society wearing blinders. Many people assume that no matter how you slice it, adoption is a good thing; anyone who feels otherwise is easily dismissed as angry or is accused of having had a "bad experience.” Few who make such assumptions have had true experience with adoption besides what’s trickled down to them through media stories.

Or they’ve had no real, truthful, open dialogue with adult adoptees or birth mothers. I cannot count how many times I have heard, "Well, my cousin's sister's uncle was adopted to a wonderful family, and he has no desire to search, ever."

I know. I get that not every adoptee suffers a primal wound and not everyone has that burning need to search all their lives. But can you guarantee that you all really know what lurks in the deepest recesses of every adopted person's and their birth families' hearts?

Not everyone spills out his or her most private thoughts over eggnog at a tree-lighting celebration. I have told some pretty bland versions of my adoption experience when I haven't felt like exposing myself so emotionally to even the dearest of friends and family.

Find My Family Finds a Truth
But now, with this pithy, scripted, should-be-sponsored-by-Kleenex show, Find My Family is letting America not only see inside what it is like to have adoption loss and separation but also the pure joy in a journey to repair those rifts.

By showing the same happily-ever-after formula weekly to Americans and by making them cry vicariously on their couches, ABC is building sympathy for the struggles of adoptees and their biological families. Find My Family is proving a means for more communication, openness, and understanding.

Adoption is such an isolating experience. All too frequently, we go on a personal journey, often not of our own choosing, but we feel that no one else has lived it. Because there are so many different variables—personal situations, emotional make-up, the overall outcome of the experience, others involved, even where one is on the timeline of life—our feelings differ a lot.

Yet Find My Family validates what so many folks do feel but are afraid to say. It provides positive role models for the whole adoption-reunion experience. We see families accepting whole branches of severed family trees with open arms. We see tears of fear and joy. We see acceptance and understanding. We see that the desire to search is human and the need to know universal.

Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy spends her life online. When she is not running social-media campaigns at her job, she is writing about adoption issues, the need for adoption reform, birth mother's informed consent, adoptee rights, and anything else that could be covered in life as a birth mother. The best places to catch her are on her blog Musings of the Lame or Twitter.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Find My Family": An Adoptive Parent Responds

By Lisa at Pack of Three for Adopt-a-tude

The ABC reality show Find My Family first aired in the United States this past November. Each episode involves the reunion of an adoptee with his or her birth parents. Emotions run high. Tears flow on-screen and off. In other words, it's great television—but does that make it a good depiction of adoption?

Click here to watch recent episodes.

From the literal "family tree" on a sunny hillside to the earnest hosts, Find My Family pushes different buttons for adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive families. Even some mainstream TV reviewers have called the show "grotesque." When it was first picked up by ABC (it's based on successful "relationship reality" programming in Holland and Australia), Variety ran this headline: "ABC adopts 'Find My Family' show."

But clearly not everyone in the adoption community feels the same way. The "grotesque" remark from a TV critic doesn't account for why reunions really are emotional and difficult to pull off. At Adopt-a-tude, we'll be running responses to the show from different angles. We'd like to invite the adoption community to talk about this together.

First up is adoptive parent Lisa, the Caucasian mother of a Chinese-born daughter. Posts by an adult adoptee and a birth mother will follow this week.

I came to Find My Family already grappling with a whirlwind of emotions. A recent discussion on Lisa Belkin's Motherlode blog opened my eyes to the very real pain adult adoptees may experience. Watching the December 7 episode of Find My Family last week, I felt I understood the emotions expressed by adult adoptees Kari Spencer and Jennifer Curtis—and that's not just because of the recent discussion on Motherlode

I've seen some of these same feelings reflected in my 9-year-old daughter's eyes, if not her words. The sense of abandonment. Of feeling tossed aside without explanation. The potential for all that to gnaw away at one's sense of self worth.

I understood too the longing: "I deserve to see where I came from." And sadly, as a single mom raising a daughter who's an only child, I've spent more than a few sleepless nights worrying whether my daughter will feel "alone in the world"—as more than one adoptee on the show articulated. In truth, the show made me long all the more for the possibility that my daughter might someday find and connect with her Chinese kin.

So, on the one hand, the show made me question again the wisdom of closed adoptions. The bottom line is blood relations are family. You don't cease being "family" just because you're not there. Adopted or not, we all have far-flung family members. Is there a draw there? The possibility for that sense of kindred connection? I'd be lying if I said no.

The truth, for me personally, is that I think if I were Kari Spencer's adoptive mother in the first story aired on last Monday's show, and Kari Spencer's birth mother had—as she claims—returned within those first, very early (three) months and demonstrated that she and her husband had both the desire and means to raise Kari, wrenching as it would have been, I think I’d have wanted to give Kari the chance to be with her biological mother.

The American Adoption Congress highlights the issue this way:
“The AAC believes that all children have the same core of basic needs, and that these needs can be met most easily when children can grow up in the family into which they were born. Every effort should be made to preserve the integrity of this family. When birth families are unable to meet the ongoing needs of children born to them, however, we believe that adoption provides the best alternative—provided the adoptions are humane, honest, and rooted in the understanding that adoption does not erase a child's connections to the family into which they were born. We believe that those who have lived the adoption experience are in the best position to articulate the importance of these conditions and to bring about an adoption system that is based on them.”
I think the AAC’s focus and priorities make sense. That said, there's a broad range of adoptee experiences and opinions. While it's clear there are a number of adult adoptees who are active, vocal, and angry, I’m curious to know how broadly representative their opinions are. I’d love to see a broad-based, statistically meaningful study that represents the full range of adoptee experiences to date.

In the meantime, as much as I feel sympathetic to the pain articulated by the adult adoptees and birth mothers in Find My Family, I'm also an adoptive parent and—I’m human. So while I understand the deep-seated need to discover the connection and sense of belonging that comes from blood ties, from the sense of having been molded from the same clay, there is another part of me, in my head, in my heart, that feels there are things about Find My Family that are one-sided, superficial, and potentially exploitative.

What individual—adopted or otherwise—doesn’t fantasize about the perfect family, the one that's truly attuned and connected to who we are on a cellular level?

Family is in part based on DNA. But that's the raw material, and it's just the beginning. Family, particularly the intense job of parenting, being the mom or the dad, is about being there, day in and day out, year in and year out, through the good, the bad, the sick, the rebellious, and ugly. It’s a commitment, a bond that grows in the heart and in the wiring that develops in the brain. It comes from living and breathing as a family unit, so much so that you unconsciously share the same gestures, the same manner of speech, the same quirky sense of humor.

It's about the emotional equity, the sweat equity, and, at the risk of sounding crass, the financial equity as well. It's about paying the emergency room bills, the annual doctor's bills, the dental and orthodontic bills. It's about putting money aside each year for college. It's about the puppy in the window, the school ski trip, the camping adventure, and presents under the tree each year at Christmas.

It's not just a climb and a hug on a sunlit hill thirty years later.  

So I’ll admit that when the Find My Family hosts and adoptees kept saying, "That's your mother" and "We found your mother" and "We found your family"—as if these adoptees were still orphaned and alone in the world—I couldn't help but cringe. I wondered what the adoptive parents were feeling as they viewed this footage. Yes. This was the birth mother who had clearly struggled and grieved her lost children. But what about the woman who was there all those years doing all the actual...mothering. Who was she? The babysitter?

I know how subjective and biased I sound as I read what I've written. I think it's the sweat equity talking. But I don't honestly know how, or if I can, disengage from that. The bottom line for me is that, as an adoptive parent, the show made me feel incredibly invisible.

If, broadly speaking and in actuality, adoptive families form a “triad,” the show should try to represent the reality, not just a selective slice, a single fairytale moment in time. Include the full triad. I know this can be sticky. But that’s in part the point—and the reality.

Within my own family, among myself and my cousins, we have more than seven examples of adoption to draw from. They include two international adoptions, two open adoptions, two closed adoptions, and a foster parent who became an adoptive parent. In the case of the foster parent, she only moved to adopt her daughter after four or five years of waiting for the birth mother to overcome her addictions and provide for her daughter. When the birth mother proved unable, she relinquished her claim to “mother” her daughter.

In the case of our family's two open adoptions, sadly, the adoptive parents pursued and tried to maintain the originally agreed-on connection. In both instances, to varying degrees, despite ongoing efforts, the birth mothers dropped away. This isn't to say open adoption is a mistake or a bad idea. It's just to say every adoptive circumstance is different. Families fracture. Pain can result any number of ways. The question is, what "family" will be there to pick up the pieces?

I'll be interested to see what kind of follow-up occurs on Find My Family. Will they choose only those stories that offer a happy ending? I'm sure there will be many wonderful, heart-warming connections and re-connections established. These are wonderful to see. But what will they do if, over time, some of the romance in these newly discovered relationships fades? Real families inevitably entail real conflict.

As an adoptive parent in the trenches dealing with the grit and grind of everyday life, the challenge I grapple with is the everpresent threat of the phantom perfect parent—as much as I know we're all human and that birth parents undoubtedly have their struggles. I’m wondering what Find My Family will do with those stories where the birth parents are found and the adoptee is confronted, God forbid, with a second rejection? This is real life as well. It happens. But then this raises another issue.  Is this really appropriate material for prime-time television?

I'm wary of an opportunistic prime-time reality show competing for ratings that paints a one-dimensional, overly romantic view of adoptees and birth families when the picture is, in reality—like most real-life families—far more complex.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ah-ha Moments at Adoption Conferences—an Adoptee’s View

From adopting a child to being an adopted child

Guest Post by Gian M. Schauer for Adopt-a-tude

I’ve had a couple of epiphanies at past adoption conferences. One led me to a husband. The other still has me searching.

I am adopted. I am interested in adopting an older child. I had contemplated giving up my birth daughter for adoption back in the ‘80s. I’ve been a foster parent. I could pretty much sit in on any talk at an adoption conference and find something that resonated with me.

It was the stuff that didn’t resonate that brought on my “ah-ha” moments.

My first moment of clarity came during a break at a Single Parent Adoption conference. I had been in presentations and break-out sessions listening to people talk about the joys of adoption and the struggles of parenting an adopted child. Their tales all sounded familiar, even though I didn’t have an adopted child.

Then it hit me. I’d had the same struggles parenting my birth daughter, not because she was adopted but because I was parenting alone. If I continued down this path of single-parent adoption, I thought, I would be telling these same stories of time management, depleted energy levels, and the frustration of facing decisions alone.

What I was longing for was not just another child—I already had a wonderful one. I wanted someone with which to share another child. 

With new clarity, I left the conference and got busy. I talked it out with my shrink and increased my dating search. A couple of years later, I got married on a boat in the Caribbean.

That’s not the end of my story.

I had also been attending general adoption conferences, not just those for single parents. Other conferences offered many different topics, depending on your interests. As I sat in rooms full of adoptive parents discussing their issues with their adopted children, I stopped hearing the voices of the parents and starting thinking about my own voice as an adopted child. 

That’s when I had “ah-ha” moment number two. 

I didn’t need to learn anything more about adopting someone else right now. I needed to learn more about the adoption of me.

I’m not talking about the usual stuff like who my birth mother was or if I had any half-siblings. Not yet. What I needed to address was what it meant to me to be an adopted child.

I listened to experts and other adopted people talk about things like “The Primal Wound” and “always looking for your people.” Those things didn’t ring true for me. I turned protective of the adopted children in stories. I got frustrated with my shrink when she said perhaps I was experiencing things in a certain way because I was adopted. I researched attachment disorder in adults to figure out my relationship problems. I stopped reading studies about older children in the foster-care system or fetal alcohol effects and started thinking about my own birth and adoption circumstances.

Being adopted is a part of me. But is it a bigger part of me than growing up in a small town in the Midwest, having freckles, or being tall? I wasn’t comfortable with the generalization that all adopted kids were more difficult as adolescents anymore than everyone with freckles is a class clown. I didn’t go around in life searching for someone who looked like me or someone who could understand me anymore than my friends who weren’t adopted searched for those things. 

So what was I curious about? I wasn’t sure about starting a search for my birth mom. I understood what she must have gone through to give me up, but I didn’t need to see her, touch her, connect with her.

Or did I?  I tiptoed around the subject, reading online stories of how people found birth parents but never starting my own search. I didn’t talk with anyone about this, either.  Instead I just quietly sat in small groups at these conferences, thinking about the circumstances behind my own adoption and wondering about the life path of my birth mother. My curiosity took me from wondering about adopting a child to wondering about being an adopted adult.  

I have stopped planning and searching for a child to adopt. I have started searching for my inner adopted child. Maybe one day when I sort out the imprint that adoption has left on me, I will move my attention towards finding my birth family. And maybe after that, I will be interested in adopting a child with my husband.

For now, I’m not attending any more adoption conferences.