AnsI was adopted as a baby in 1971 and had a happy childhood. My parents were wonderful and very open about my adoption, though in my early teens, we never discussed whether I’d want to find my birth parents, despite this weighing heavily on my mind.

During my teenage years, I struggled with my identity. I didn’t fit in at school and felt people didn’t understand me. On reflection, I was a bit of a loner but I preferred it that way as socialising didn’t come too easily at that age.   

After leaving home in my early 20s, particularly when I was pregnant with my eldest daughter, I had a strong yearning to know my history and my DNA. I couldn’t mention my aim and the difficulty of searching for my birth family to my parents as I was too concerned about shielding them from any pain.  I’d convinced myself it had to be a personal journey, albeit difficult. If there was a time-machine, I think I’d challenge my own thinking back then.

After a decade of searching, it was only after a chance conversation with a taxi driver who was from the same area as my birth mother that we were reunited. A year before that, I’d managed to find my birth father.  I did ask my parents whether they’d mind me contacting them prior to me doing so – as always, they were fully supportive but perhaps we were all (me included) a little too polite.

In my early 30s, I opened Pandora’s box and met my birth family. There was no emotional or intermediary support from Social Services back then, just factual information that was coming thick and fast from every angle. It was raw and I wasn’t prepared. Every part of my family forest, my parents and birth parents, were reliving difficult and painful memories from the 1970s with me individually. My birth mother hadn’t seen me since I was a few weeks old when I was placed in foster care. I learnt that she’d never wanted to give me up.

When I met my birth father, I noticed he had the same pigmentation as my daughter. The first thing he asked me was, ‘What do you want?’  You notice these things and it was a perfectly acceptable ask as I was, effectively, a complete stranger. Albeit a biologically related one.

Over the last 20 years, I often tried to introduce and reconnect my family forest at certain celebrations. One event I remember in particular was when I invited both my birth parents and parents to my daughter’s christening. You could have cut the atmosphere with a knife. Introductions were always interesting at those events and best avoided.  

I always prepared myself for failure during the 12-year search journey and was never prepared that the process of reuniting would ever happen. When it did, I wasn’t prepared for such a difficult road with emotional rollercoasters and many complex feelings to consider from every side.  For me, it was my role to protect all parties.

Today, I’m a volunteer with Adoption UK and run a monthly group for adopted adults where we meet virtually. I’m privileged to meet such wonderful and inspirational people. Whilst our stories and backgrounds vary, we have a first-hand understanding and can relate and support each other in a unique way. By sharing our collective experience with the wider adoption community, hopefully we can introduce change to help the younger generation.

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