The FWMB interviewed Amy, mother of three and adoptee, about her decision to pursue a relationship with her birth family. Previously, she shared with us her experience of imagining what her birth story was like, and we are so thrilled to have her back.
Why did you decide to pursue your birth family?
When I was in my last year of college, my mom and I were having a casual conversation about my adoption. She said, “I have always wished I could thank your birth parents because without them I wouldn’t have been able to be your mom!”
When people ask me about searching for my birth family, I usually tell them this first, as if this was the only reason I did the search. But, if I am being honest, I was always curious about my biological family. In the state where I was born, the child is the only one who can seek identifying information from the Department of Children and Families. All I had to do was write a letter to the office in the county where I was born requesting that they do a search for my biological parents. My birth parents had already submitted their identifying information years before I went searching for them, so it was a quick turnaround for me. A few short weeks later, I received a letter with my birth parents names and contact information.
How were you impacted by your birth parents reactions to you?
Their reaction to meeting me seemed to be one of perfect relief and joy. I believe they were just so thankful that I was adopted by a family that loved and cared for me and brought me up in a community of faith. However, looking back now, I know that I just wasn’t emotionally ready for all of this. I was 22-years-old, about to graduate from college and begin my career, and generally in a tender, identity-building place in my life. Meeting my biological family was certainly a great joy, but it was also a tremendous source of stress. This was no one’s fault. It was what it was. Identity is a loaded word to be sure, but I think the years following my reunion with my birth family could best be described as an identity crisis.
Why is it important to you to have a relationship with your birth family, even though it hasn’t been perfect?
If all of my family relationships were perfect, they wouldn’t be real. I truly feel that this life journey, accompanied by my adoptive family AND biological family, has been a fuller and more complete one. I cannot imagine not knowing my birth parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins! I am so blessed to be a part of so many loving families. Someone once told me that my biggest problem is that I have too many people to love me! I am one of the lucky ones who has adoptive, step, biological, and in-law families who truly love and care for me and for one another.
What tips would you give adoptive parents for helping their children navigate through this process?
I think this really depends on the situation. Knowing your child’s strengths and vulnerabilities will help as you come alongside your child in this process. In my case, I was an adult when I reunited with my birth family, so the most helpful contribution my adoptive parents made was one of unconditional love and support. The most critical thing for me in this whole process was the knowledge that I always had a safe place to return with my adoptive parents, no matter what. Having a secure, supportive, and loving connection with my mom helped me tremendously as I navigated these new relationships. She never judged me or seemed threatened by me building deeper connections with my birth family.
Amy Baer is an entrepreneur, owner of The Watershed Studio, freelance graphic designer, ordained Presbyterian minister, and mom to three boys: twins age five and toddler age two. She and her husband Ryan live in southwest Fort Worth. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram, and visit her Etsy store.