Make your list and check it twice

Sometimes a search can feel never ending. Yet on the spur of the moment it can change from a feeling where there is no end in sight, to that where everything aligns and the moment becomes clear. Like some alien on some journey across space and time our craft lands and we step out to make first contact.

I know first hand that feeling of extreme exhilaration and terrible dread. You are hit with a barrage of, “what ifs”. What if they deny me? What if I’m their terrible secret? What if they reject me, again? There are thousands that would take the leap of faith, no matter the consequences, to be in your position; to have finally found birth family. Yet there are just as many, who are paralyzed and now must consider getting back on the ship and flying away, or take the final step and make contact.

Most adoptees care deeply about how and if they should make contact. Even after all the effort and time has gone by, they sometimes consider being satisfied with finding someone, but hesitate to cause any drama by reaching out. This is especially true if they have already found a birth relative. A reunion can be as short as a single phone call, or as dedicated as a lifetime spent building a new relationship back into our lives.

I have read a lot on the subject and it often comes down to a moment where a decision needs to be made. Yet, one should prepare. Even if only for an hour or two where you can collect your thoughts and write down all those questions you really want answers to. You can never tell whether our first encounter will be a wonderful moment, or a shock to the system. I hate the idea of boiling down everything we ever wanted to know about those who conceived us into some short list of, “must knows”, but the consequences of not getting another chance to ask could be regret we just don’t want to face.

People often ask how should they make contact? Some choose to write a letter. Others make a phone call, and yet others show up on the doorstep. I’ve found that it really depends on your own personal nature. I ended up writing to my birth mother over Facebook chat messages. Those messages seemed to give us both time to come to terms with the reality. Then we planned a meeting face to face with our spouses. My birth father received letters. None of which he ever replied to. I eventually sent a private investigator to his doorstep, more to know once and for all, that he had received my message in a bottle.

I’ve shared these suggestions before, but two searches in the past month came down to a day or two of actual research finding the birth family. One never knows how much time and effort went into a search before they came to us for assistance. There are times when the clues are thin and we must rely on the science in DNA testing to find cousins, do all the genealogy, and reverse engineer common ancestors until the truth is finally unearthed. Although, there are times when none of that was necessary where there was just enough information to pull a thread and the truth was unveiled. That occurred just recently for someone. They had all the ingredients and a small change in the spelling of a last name suddenly revealed a string of pearls leading to family. Reality is truly stranger than fiction.

All I can say is, embrace the moment, prepare your questions, make your decision on how to contact, and take that leap of faith. I think it comes down to living a life in a way where try to limit our list of regrets, looking back from old age. We all started this journey the same way, but how we choose to live it is wholly unique unto ourselves.