For as long as I can remember, I’ve known that I was adopted. There was no big, dramatic conversation with my parents or any secrecy regarding my birth. It was simply a matter of fact, and I was okay with it. Now, 22 years later, I’m still very happy with my adoptive family. So happy, in fact, that I don’t want to meet my birth mother.
My mom has told me the story of my adoption time and time again, and I never tire of hearing it. I was never in foster care or an orphanage- my adoption was pre-arranged. My mom and dad met with a lawyer who specialized in matching up birth mothers with couples looking to adopt, and a few months after telling him all about what they were looking for, he called to inform them that he had a potential match.
My birth mother was about five months pregnant when my parents met her, and she was single- my birth father had been a boyfriend of hers that had moved away. She was nineteen years old, and from the one photo I’ve ever seen of her, she looks just like me. It’s weird for me to recognize my nose, my smile, my hair, all on someone else, since I never physically resembled my family growing up.
My mom has a medium skin complexion, with dark brown hair and brown eyes, and stands at 5’3”. My dad is also dark-haired with brown eyes, and is about 5’10”. For comparison, I’m 5’8”, pale and blue-eyed, and growing up, I had naturally blonde hair! But the woman in the photo- just shorter than my dad, with long blonde hair and a big smile, looked like me. It wasn’t something I’d ever really wanted, to look like my family, and even seeing that photo, it was more strange than exciting.
Throughout the next few months, my parents kept in touch with my birth mother, making sure that she had everything she needed for a physically and emotionally healthy pregnancy. On December 3, 1992, they got the call that they both have said they’d never forget- my birth mother had gone into labor in her hometown of Las Vegas, and my parents rushed to get on the next plane.
My dad says that right after they got to the hospital, my mom was paged to pick up the nearest hospital phone, and when she hung up, she had the biggest smile on her face, exclaiming, “IT’S A GIRL!!” I had just been born via C-section, and after making sure it was okay to go see and hold me, my parents came to meet me in the hospital nursery. My mom got to feed me my first bottle, and after a few days, they took my birth mother back home, and me to a nearby hotel to stay for the few weeks before I was allowed to fly back to Chicago with my parents.
My dad has told me that the main way they communicated with my birth mother was via a special pager, and when they took her home from the hospital, they told her it was time to turn off the pager. Since then, there has been no direct communication between my adoptive and birth parents. My adoption was closed, so I’ve had no contact with my birth mother, either.
I’ve asked questions about her over the years, and for a long time, I thought about contacting the lawyer that set up my adoption and trying to track her down. I’ve seen movies and TV shows about people who’ve met their birth parents, and I’ve seen those meetings end both positively and negatively. In addition, I’ve had adopted friends meet their birth families. One friend met her birth mom and ended up becoming very, very close to her and to her half-siblings. But I don’t feel like I want or need that anymore.
Since my adoption, my family has continued to grow. My parents divorced and both remarried, and I ended up with three stepsisters and a half-brother. I was lucky to have two houses, eight grandparents, numerous aunts and uncles and cousins, multiple holiday celebrations every year, and so much love to go around. And yet, as a teenager, I talked to a few friends about meeting my birth mother one day- not to have her as a part of my life, but just to meet her. I was curious to see if I had siblings now, what she’d been up to for the last twenty-odd years, and what she knew about me (part of the agreement between my parents and my birthmother was that my mom would write a letter each year on my birthday to let her know how I was doing). That curiosity is now gone, however.
When I was 19, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I’d been going through a rough patch- I’d just transferred schools and wasn’t doing as well as I knew I could, I hadn’t made a lot of friends yet, and I was feeling sick a lot of the time (and now I knew why). It was so, so scary, and yet, it was also one of the most rewarding periods in my life, simply because of all I learned. I learned about myself, and how strong I am. I learned to understand my body, and to seek help when something is really wrong. And on top of everything, I learned how loving my family can be.
My four parents, all of my siblings, six living grandparents, as well as countless other family members and close friends supported me as I went through treatment, and even in my chemotherapy-induced haze, it was clear to me how much I was loved by my family. That love is still so, so strong. My mom said that barely two minutes went by during the first few years of my life that she wasn’t thinking about me, and jokes that now, she’s gotten it up to about once an hour. But the fact that I can call her, my dad, my step-parents, or any member of my family whenever I need them and know they’re there is incredible, and I’m lucky to have that in my life.
My desire to meet my birth mother was a curiosity I had that was driven primarily by a need for something else. But my family coming together for me while I was sick more than fulfilled that need for me. I respect my birth mother’s decision to give me up for adoption. My mom put it best: “It was truly a selfless act for her to let us adopt you, knowing that we could provide a much better life for you than she could. It takes a special person to do something like that.”
But the life she gave me is enough for me, and while I hope that, wherever she is, she is happy and living a good life, I choose to live mine separately of her.
i don’t want to meet my birth mother