Monday, February 1, 2016

Don't Tell My Adoptive Mom I Found My Birth Family

I feared the day my adoptive mother would discover that my birth family found me. I kept it a secret for months. Maybe even a year. I pleaded to my friends to not tell my adoptive mom I found my family.

I did not hide it from my adoptive mom out of fear that she would be angry or upset with me for searching, or any of the sort.

I hid it from adoptive mother because I did not want to hurt her feelings. I did not want her to feel that I was going to meet my birth mother, pack my belongings, and run away to my "real" mom.

My adoptive mom to me is my real mom, and I would never leave her. But what I have realized is that one of the biggest fears adoptive parents have is that their adopted child would reunite with their birth family and never return. I understand the fear, but the fear is simply a myth surrounding search and reunion.

When an adoptee sets out to search for his or her birth family, it doesn't mean that their adoptive family isn't good enough or inadequate in any way.  It means that many adoptees live with this hole in their heart, this emptiness. And no matter how much love the adoptive family tries to pour into that adopted child it will never fulfill the hole or missing puzzle piece. Adoptees need to know who they are, and they need answers to have closure, and it begins with having an original birth certificate and having contact information for their birth family if they choose to.

I feared my adoptive mother's sadness. I felt her heart would break by knowing that my birth family found me.

Adoptees should not have feel this way, but we cannot help it. This is what closed adoption does. It makes you feel like something is so wrong about searching and reuniting with your birth family. It's not right to have to feel like this.

Reunion should be a beautiful event in an adoptees life. From the very beginning, adoptees should have the support of their adoptive parents. That support should be encouraging reunion if the adopted child or adult is seeking it. The support should also encourage an open line of communication and not dismissive listening or selective listening when the adopted person opens up about his or her birth family. Trust me, it isn't always easy as an adoptee to open up about our deepest feelings surrounding our birth and adoption. This is best time for an adoptive parent to build a strong and trusting bond with their child.

I had to keep this secret until I could sort out what it meant that my birth family found me. Believe me, it is one thing when you find your family, but when they find you....oh, that is a completely different story. I wasn't prepared.

English is my adoptive mother's second language. I should add that she was an orphan with only a second grade education. I never knew my mom knew how to work an iPad or even held one before to know what to do with it. She doesn't even know how to work a cell phone!

I was back in the U.S on summer break from living in Japan. I picked my adoptive mother up to spend the day with her and visit the cemetery where my adoptive father lays. I was anticipating visiting him because I wanted to tell him that my birth family found me. I wanted him to know first so he could watch over my mom and comfort her from Heaven when I told her. My adoptive father loved me so much. Before he passed away from cancer, his dying wish was that I would never feel alone as an adoptee. He was afraid I would be treated differently or made fun of by my siblings, classmates, and kids in the hood because my birth mom abandoned me. God I miss him.

We drove out to Belleglade, FL where my adoptive father is buried. My adoptive mom was in the passenger side, and my best friend Paloma was in the back. We all told stories and jokes to pass the time until we arrived at the cemetery. I had a photo in my iPad I wanted to show the two of them as part of the story I was sharing. Paloma looked at it first, and then she handed it to my mom. My adoptive mom, not knowing how to work an iPhone or iPad must not have known the rule of when someone shows you a photo you are to only look at the photo. Do not swipe right, and do not swipe left. I cannot even get mad at her. She did not know there were rules to this. But wait, how did she even know to automatically swipe right and left. That is what shocked me the most! She must have seen it on TV.

As we traveled down US-98, speed limit between 60-65mph, I was likely nearing 70mph. I glanced over and saw my adoptive mom's turn ghost. Every color on her face left her body. All I could see was her bright red lipstick on her lips. I just knew she saw something she should not have seen. I could not slow down to look at the iPad to see what she saw because cars were flying next to me and behind me. I looked up in the mirror and saw Paloma's face that confirmed she saw something she should not have.

It was my secret.

I was not ready to tell her yet.

We rode in silence. All I could hear was sniffling. I could not look over at her.

I was guilty and she was crying.

When we arrived at the cemetery I grabbed the iPad from her. I did not say anything.

My adoptive mom saw the photo I took of the flower arrangement and card my birth mother sent to me. I took a photo of it so I would always remember it and in case I lost the card because I moved often. Everything gets lost. I needed a back up in case I lost the card. I keep the card in my Bible.

She knew it was my birth mom. I could not hide it if I wanted to.

My mom struggles walking from her arthritis and of course refuses to use a cane.  The walk to the cemetery plot is a far distance from the car. We were forced to hold hands and walk together. This was the only time in my life I did not want to hold her hand because I knew I would feel her pain running through her hand to my hand to my heart.

In tradition, we change the flowers at my father's grave and clean up around it. We have some small talk here and there and then we each have a moment alone where we talk to him. We close by holding hands in a circle and saying a prayer.

I always lead.

Oh man, I would have never thought this prayer would have come spewing out of my mouth.

Lord knows it was not my plan in my prayer to mention anything about my family finding me. But then again, the woman I call my grandma, my former track coach's mom always said when you put things in prayer no one can hurt you or get mad at you.

Oh, Holy Spirit, the things you do.

I went on to pray about everything - my life, my future, my family.

...God, I pray you be with my mom during this time with the news she just received. May you comfort her, bring her peace, and let her know that I needed this. I don't know why she had to find out this way, but Lord I trust yours ways. I trust that your timing was perfect even if I don't know why it had to go down like this. Lord, please let her know that I love her deeply and I never want her to feel that I will leave her. Lord shower her with love and reassurance that we are family, and we will be family forever and ever. Amen. 

Eyes still closed. 

I could not stop the tears fall falling. It was a dirty cry filled with with snot that refused to get back in my nose no matter how hard I sniffled.

My mom proceeds in prayer. 

Talk about literally shaking in my boots. I was wearing my favorite Troopa boots from Steve Madden that day. I had no idea what was about to come out of her mouth. 

She begins with, "Ramonsito". 

My adoptive father's name was Ramon, but out of love she called him, Ramonsito. 

She took a deep breath and began to talk to him and God. She told him she was incredibly thankful for this day and she waited on it to happen. 

I stood there wanting to peek my eyes open to see if this was a joke I was hearing. Did I just hear her say that she waited on this day? Like, as in, she wanted me to find them or be found? 

I quickly peeked over. I know we are praying and my head should be down and my eyes should be closed in reverence to the Lord, but I couldn't help it. I had to look. Sorry Lord it won't happen again. 

She said it. I saw the words coming out of her mouth. Omg. 

The prayer felt like foreverrrrrr. I just wanted to say "Amen" and hug her!

When she said "Amen", I looked her in her eyes and said, "thank you mommy".

We hugged and cried and hugged and cried.

I will never forget it.

I was always afraid of hurting her feelings by wanting to search for my birth family. It was never my intent to replace my adoptive mom because she is quite amazing and inspiring, not to mention irreplaceable. Finding my birth family was about finding myself, my identity, and needing answers or closure to move forward with my life and to have a successful life.

What I did not know was that my adoptive mom prayed for this moment. She had my back. She wanted what was best for me as it should be when adopting. It should be about the adoptive child and their needs.

I completely understand the fear that adoptive parents have when they discover that their adopted child wants to search for their birth family especially when the adopted child comes from a background of drugs or sex abuse or violence, but at some point adoptive parents have to let go for just a moment and allow their child to fly and find themselves.

My adoptive mom wanted to protect me from my birth parents because she knew of their history, but she also knew how important it was for me to know my identity even if it were going to hurt me. I have the utmost respect for her for acknowledging that.

 After all of this, I learned that I did not have keep any secrets from my adoptive mom. Since she found out my birth family found me, our relationship has grown into something so beautiful words cannot even describe. Seriously. We can now talk about anything. The elephant in the room is gone, and my fear of talking about my feelings or updates on my birth family are nonexistent.

I am beyond thankful to have been blessed with an adoptive mom that gets it. An adoptive mom that understands the importance of identity. An adoptive mom that understand that I have two moms. An adoptive mom that cares about knowing and having a relationship with my biological family. She is the mom of all moms and children.

She is a gift.

She is my mom.

I love you mommy. 

Have you ever felt afraid to tell your adoptive parents you are searching or found your birth family? If so, comment below? What has your experience been like?

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Thank you for reading xo

Monday, January 25, 2016

Quick Guide to Being Fearless & Contacting Your Birth Mother

It is no easy feat for adoptees to contact their birth mom. After all, adoptees spend upward 10 if not more years searching for their birth mother or family. Year after year of searching, the feelings of fear and anxiety build up causing adoptees to be apprehensive about meeting their birth mother fearing rejection, a negative outcome, or an unexpected outcome. It is daunting. Reunion can potentially change an adoptees life forever. No, it will change an adoptees life forever. But it should never be the reason that keeps an adoptee from contacting his or her birth mom.

If you are an adoptee contemplating contacting your birth mother, don't let fear or anxiety overwhelm you. Take your time. Step-by-step. Prepare as needed. Gather a team of people that will encourage you, support you, and be there to give you a hug as needed or an ear to listen. This is necessary. 

You can do this! I am cheering for you.

Below I have listened five methods you can use to contact your birth mother including a sprinkle of encouragement to keep you going. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

5 Simple Tips For Adoptees and Birth Mothers to Survive the Holiday Blues

It is that time again that many adoptees, foster youth, and birth mothers dread, the holidays. A time where you want to kick Santa so far back to the North Pole and put on your Grinch swag on and call it a night until it all blows over. I get it. I totally do! Most of us have experienced the holiday blues at some point missing our birth family or loved ones.

But listen, you can't stay down every holiday season. Don't do that to yourself anymore. I have spent over 10 years locked up in my room crying under my comforter boycotting all Christmas and New year activities, including church! Church was the worst for me during the holidays. I could not take the Christmas carols, the jolly spirits, the gift giving, and most of all...seeing FAMILIES together. Ugh.

It crippled me.

It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I decided I would stop playing the Grinch-et. I decided that I will create my own holiday tradition. I would create the holiday that I want to experience (sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands) or surround myself with others that need a little cheering up too.

Below are 4 Tips I have created that have helped me survive the holiday blues:

Monday, December 7, 2015

Adoption Holiday Gift Guide 2015

It can be difficult finding the perfect Christmas gift this holiday season. Don't worry, you are not alone on this. I have rounded up some of the best gifts to give and to get this holiday season. While most people will be receiving the latest fashion items and what nots that they will soon forget about, why not dig deeper and go for a gift that is more personalized and memorable? A gift that will be cherished for a lifetime or put to good use.

I created this Christmas gift guide you can give to Santa or you can use to guide you shopping for that perfect gift for your loved one:

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Forgiving My Birth Mother

A reader discovered my blog by typing in a Google search, "How to Forgive My Birth Mother". Google has all these funny analytics that show you how people arrive at your blog. When I read that, I froze for a second because I remember being there. I remember being in that stage where I needed to release that anger and sadness built up inside of me due to my birth mother abandoning me.

I wasn't that adoptee that had an adoption plan created. Perhaps that is what hurts the most. I was that adoptee where an ad was published in the newspaper in hopes that my birth mother would come forward and relinquish her rights as my parent for me to be placed for adoption and become adoptable.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Learning to Celebrate My Victories Through Adoption Loss and Trauma

"No matter how talented or bright I was it did not seem to matter because every game I played I felt like I lost. No matter how many people I struck out or how many races I won, I felt like a failure because my own mom, my blood, did not want me." 

As many of you know, I live in Japan. I am in the process of filing for my Visa which requires I give them an original copy of my college diploma. I had to contact my university to ask them if they were still holding onto my diploma in their office since it had been years since I graduated. When the woman on the other end of the line asked me my last graduation date, I said, "2010". She said, "pardon". I repeated, "2010". She paused wondering why I hadn't picked up my diplomas, the document every college graduate cannot wait to have in their hands and put on their wall or office to represent all the headaches, tears, tipsy nights, and aggravation college caused to prove it was all worth it.

But not me.