This may be the most poignant moment for any adoptee. The love of his or her adopted parents passing in stark contrast to his or her need to answer a question some have waited a lifetime to answer.
Not a single person I have met who waited until their adopted parents were gone before they began their search for birth relatives did express to me their relief to look without guilt. In fact the opposite seemed more true, that they loved their adopted parents even more then when they started their search. Some have even shown a keen interest, a wish, in sharing the experiences of their search with their adopted parents, instead of without them.
Guilt, no doubt, played a large role in making the decision to wait. Call it a selfless act to honor those who raised them, or the pain they felt might have been a burden upon the people that earned their respect. Either way, the decision to wait has just as much of a toll to tax the spirit of adoptees as they who have not waited.
Everyone must make the decision to know, or not and bare the burden of the consequences, come what may, on their own. No one can step in and influence the adoptee one way or the other. Nor should they. It is a poignant and quite righteous decision to make. Just know that whether you wait or not, there is a cost. It is this cost that people who are not adoptees can hardly understand entirely.
It is not that those who are adopted asked to have this mystery handed to them. To be handed a start disconnected from their roots. Consider it a moment, not knowing who or where you came from. You began, but had no family tree to really connect you to the centuries before you. We are spirits let free upon the earth, not entirely from a place or time we can identify with.
Some of us are fortunate enough to connect with our adopted families in a very familiar way, although we do feel a disconnection we never asked for. Does this make our feelings any less genuine or deeply connected to the family that raised us? It is not a question many of us can bare. We connect as well as we have always known. Think of anything you connect with in your core being and allow someone to create a doubt, a thorn in your mind, that it is not genuine.
That is the pain some of us feel when asked, “have you ever looked for your real parents?” What kind of a question is that anyway? I guess all of us have a desire to know what it is like to walk in someone else’s skin. To poke and prod at the monkey in the cage and learn what it will react to. Friends, know that either way an adoptee has justified their desire to seek out birth family it was not made without a deep sense of what it might mean to everyone we know and everything we have been before.
Dylan Thomas said it best, ”Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Many of us have been willing to wait on the knowledge of our beginning, but those who have decided to move toward it shall rage against the dying of the light before we give up on our journey.
Know that anyone on this path does not intend to be insensitive to those who do not understand our plight, but realize this is a secret we never asked for, nor wish to keep until our dying day. Please don’t doubt our commitments to family, we desire it more than you can fathom. But ask us to quiet our thirst for knowledge and risk opening yourself to a rage kept quiet for a lifetime.