I’m sure there are scholars who have written about this, and I should track down their wisdom. Disclaimer–this is only my reflection and may not resemble other adopted children’s experiences.
I’ve recently been discovering things about my birth parents. I was able to speak to my birth mother on the phone for a few minutes. I found her high school senior picture online. I’ve met my birth father’s daughter, Carol, and she has welcomed me to the family, introduced me to other family members, and shared pictures and stories of my birth father.
It has been all gift. I’m grateful for all of it.
I can’t get the word “rejection” out of my mind.
Sometimes it is “abandonment“, but more often “rejection”.
It’s weird. Those words are not the defining words to my life. In adoption, I was chosen and valued by a wonderful family. My birth mother made difficult choices I can only imagine to give me life and a chance at a new life.
I don’t feel rejected in my personal or professional relationships either.
It is not my word.
In all of this birth parent discovery, I have heard those words bubbling up in my thoughts, whispered in the silence.
These words want me to attend to them.
When my new sister–my birth father’s daughter–and her family all shared stories about my birth father, I got a good sense of who he was. He was a family man. He would do anything for his family. He loved his family.
And I believe them. Looking at the family together, they are people who have been loved and shaped into a family that has weathered many storms and come through them stronger and together–a family.
And I still heard a voice in my head saying, “he wasn’t a family man for me“.
If rejection is even the correct word to use to describe me and my birth father, I’m grateful for his rejection. I’m thankful to have been adopted. I completely believe I am exactly who God dreamed for me to be, and being adopted is a HUGE piece of how that plays out.
If rejection is the correct word to use, I totally get it. What was he supposed to do in 1968? How was it going to work for a 55 year old man to bring home infant Marci to his wife of 26 years and say, “look what I found!” I totally get it.
My feelings toward my birth mother are somewhat different. I’ve always experienced her decision to place me for adoption as an act of love, a recognition that in the difficult situation in which she found herself, this was the best she could do for me. I feel like she released me to live the life I was meant to live. I have never felt rejected because of the adoption.
Her rejection of me happened later.
Twenty-ish years ago, I contacted her through an intermediary. She agreed to exchange a letter, but she would not meet me. That was rejection.
When I received my birth certificate in the mail this summer, I never expected an Oprah-style reunion with her. I remembered her response the last time around. The fact that she actually returned my phone call at all was great, much more than I expected.
And still I offered to come to where she lives to meet her.
She said no.
It is what it is. And, quite frankly, I’d rather not meet someone who does not want to meet me. This kind of rejection is okay and manageable. Having a door slammed in my face would be worse.
And as I said before, rejection is not my defining word. And the welcome and acceptance I have received from my birth father’s family has been huge. A great gift, and completely unconnected to the feelings of rejection I’ve been tending to.
I suspect these feelings of rejection and abandonment have been in the background my whole life. But now that I have names and faces to go with my birth parents, the diffuse feelings of rejection have come into sharper focus.
This is just another piece of the puzzle. Putting it to words and looking at it in the light of day are all a part of helping me find its place in my life. I don’t think it is a big piece, but as I’ve processed the rest of this story with you, it seems right to let you see this piece of the puzzle too.
Thank you, by the way, for following along on this journey. It’s been humbling to know how many people I have out there caring for me and walking with me through this.