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Adult adoptee meeting biological siblings(18 Posts)
I'm typing this not even sure if I'm going to post it, or if anyone will read it, or what I'm even asking, but MN has been a huge help to me in the past. If anyone does read I promise I'm not a troll - I've usually hung out on the Weight Loss forums but long-time lurker.
I'm a 40+ yo adoptee and I'm meeting my 3 biological siblings for the first time on Thursday. And I'm so bloody nervous. They range in age from about 18/19 to 24 (I need to check the exact ages - have it in one of the letters).
I could type pages and pages about what has happened so far, but in general it's all been good. I've always known I was adopted; my Birth Mother reached out for contact about 5 years ago, we started with letters and then we met in 2013 and about 3-4 times a year since then. We had one major hiccup early on where I kept postponing meetings, but otherwise it's gone well and I'd consider us friends at this stage, although our contact is still fairly formally managed (set intervals and dates). Only my H and 2 close friends know about any of this. I don't have children and I've chosen not to tell my parents any of this.
Anyway, to cut a long story short I'm not in the UK and the adoption services in my country are being changed, so the social worker assigned to our case (who has been fantastic) is being moved out of adoption work next month. So as part of closing out our file, she's sort of encouraged me to fast-track meeting my BM's children while she's around to help. I knew I would always do it - but kept putting it off out of fear.
This is huge for me because I am an only (40+ yo) "child". When I first found out about my BM and the fact that she had children it really affected me because I've always hated being an "only " - when I was young and now still - and I suppose I always dreamed of having siblings.
At the time my BM and I made contact, her children didn't know about any of this or the fact that she had a baby when she was younger, so I sort of lived through the whole process of her telling them in 2014. We rehearsed all the questions they might ask and all the worries they might have, but their reaction was amazing and really floored me. They were just so excited at having another sister and sent me (through their Mum) some lovely texts saying they loved me already. At the time she asked if they could send letters to me, but I really wasn't ready. The thing is, I really didn't think they were giving it much thought these days and that they had enough going on in their own lives. But it turns out they've been dying to meet me the whole time but my BM didn't want to put any pressure on me.
Anyway, here I am 3 days away and any excitement I might have felt myself is now gone and I'm just dreading it and thinking of all the things that could go wrong. I don't know what I am going to say to them. The social worker will be there, but I just keep imagining lots of awkward silences. I've also suddenly realised how alone I really am - it will be 4 of them and me - the outsider. I'm practically twice their age, but I don't know what they might want to know or expect. And because their Mum has told me so much about them, I really can't think of what I'll ask them. I can't really remember what it was like to be in my early 20s and even though they're my siblings - sort of - they're also complete strangers that I have very little in common with.
The thing is - very much on paper only - I'm successful with a v high standard of education and I'm comfortably off. In contrast, my BM struggles financially; her eldest took 2 years to find a job after school; 1 of the others has dropped out of college and the third has repeated her first year twice already. I realised that part of my fear of meeting them is that I'm putting pressure on myself that I want to be some sort of role model for them - when in reality my life is a bit of a mess and generally I feel like I've been a failure - and deep down I'm very unhappy. From what I can tell, they're nicer, kinder and generally more well-rounded people already than I will ever be. In some ways I'm more afraid that I'll judge them rather than them judging me.
I've been through huge work stress for the last 6 months, so that isn't helping my state of mind either. I also have "proper" anxiety since I was 29 although I'm managing it really well these days. I practice mindfulness and I'm very aware that my barriers and protectors have gone completely up through the roof in the last few days - it's almost like I've shut down already. I've dreamt about the meeting 3 times and it always ends with me bawling my eyes out. There's still separate and hugely complex self-esteem stuff that I need to work through but I won't do it quickly or in time for Thursday. The social worker suggested I bring photos of myself around their ages, but even that has been a struggle as I just cringe at myself back then - both how I looked and how life was for me.
Anyway there's a lot there, so thank you if you've even kept reading this far. I guess if I am asking for any help, I'd love to know has anyone been through anything similar and how was it? Would anyone have any tips for an ice breaker or things I could talk to them about if it goes quiet/awkward?
I haven't been through anything similar but I'm an adopter and also have BC who are 20 years apart.
I think you're putting too much pressure on yourself when by the sounds of things they're a loving caring bunch of people who want to welcome you into their/your family.
Keep it simple. Don't worry about connecting with them at 'their level' as such. Just on a human level. They want to meet you, you want to meet them. They're probably just as nervous as you are. They probably have no expectations of you being their role model. Maybe you'll focus on physical similarities, things that you find that you do have in common.
Hopefully you will feel a connection with them, but don't expect it all to come in one meeting. It will take time and hopefully you will have the opportunity to develop a deeper relationship over the years.
I'd keep the meeting brief and let them do the talking if you're nervous. Don't take photos with you if you don't feel comfortable.
One step at a time. It's a big thing but it's also hopefully a step towards healing.
Thank you so much Rosie .
Everything you've said is so helpful - I'm really over-complicating it in my head. I did joke to my BM that I'd probably just want to sit and stare at them for the whole meeting - from photos I've seen the resemblances are really amazing.
And you're right - I don't have to be a role model or their friend straight away - if even ever.
I pulled out some of the early letters last night and it also reminded me of the basics around what my BM and I talked about at the start, so that might help too.
I also think part of my nerves are just down to being introverted - so meeting 3 new people at once and having to talk to them for a while would be scary for me in any circumstances.
Thanks again .
You sound wonderful, you really do. But I think you're over-thinking things! I just want to give you a big hug! You've already been really brave, and I'm sure your siblings will just be thrilled to meet you, being you, not being a 'big sister' as in a role model, but you as you are.
I hope all goes well. You sound very reflective, but don't feel you have to do everything yourself. Reach out to a good friend, and talk all this through. Your feelings are your feelings, you're allowed to feel them all, so have someone to share them will. Really good luck.
Thanks so much Thomas and to someone who PM'd me .
I'm definitely less nervous than I was. The social worker rang yesterday which helped too, we're going to travel together to the meeting venue. She said she'll kept it to about an hour (unless we're getting along well!) and that she'll have a structure to it, so I'm not to worry.
I found some photos of me from about 18 to 25 which are not too embarrassing so I'll have those in my handbag if it gets quiet. I've even got my 'outfit' ready (only a jumper and jeans but I've put on a bit of weight in the last 6 months so I didn't want to be stressing in the morning about what to wear - I'm such a worrier ).
If I'm honest, I guess there's a part of me that dreams that we'll go on to be lifelong friends and part of each other's lives. But for now, the first step in that is finding out if we'll like each other. The SW is going to set the expectations that this is only a one-time meeting with no commitment - she did similar when my BM and I met but we knew at the end of the meeting that we'd like to meet again.
Wish me luck! I will update afterwards as soon as I can.
Good luck. I hope it all goes well for you. Be kind to yourself xx
Good luck! Yes. I met my dad for the first time when I was 18. I didn't do it because I wanted a father figure etc and I wasn't even doing it because I was expecting to have a relationship with him. For me it was originally purely to find out what made me "me" as my bother and mam (who I also didn't grow up with but knew and saw) had absolutely nothing in common with me. It was unreal. I found out I walked like him, had the same personality, the exact same sense of humour and even supported the same football team despite living opposite ends of the country etc! I had never done anything bad and was the most amazing, kind, funny and easy going person you could wish to meet. As a result he became my best friend (could never be dad even though that is what I called him because he never brought me up). I now have two adopted children and fully expect both of them to at least meet their birth mam and I am sure my daughter will also want to try and contact her half brother and sister on her dad's side. How that will pan out is not certain especially for my son who has FASD, AD, ADHD, autism and many more life long horrendous disabilities because of the severe abuse and neglect suffered under the care of their mother but I completely understand that desire to know "what makes you you" and find out about your history/past or need for explanations etc so absolutely fully behind it when the time comes.
I really hope the meeting goes well for you, I've been thinking a lot about you since the first post. Good luck!
Thank you all again for your support and kind words .
I was absolutely shattered last night and my head was spinning so much I don't think I could have worked out what to write anyway.
So in summary, it was brilliant. But there's no one word to describe it - the SW on the way home actually said she thought the whole thing was overwhelming - not in a bad way - but just so huge.
We got there first, I was a bag of nerves - almost physically trembling - but we saw their car arriving so knew they were about to come in. My BM came in first and I gave her a hug, but then the youngest (my half-brother!) went to hug me and I started absolutely bawling crying. It really surprised me because I thought I had sort of steeled myself. I then set off the eldest girl crying (my half-sister!) but there were hugs all round and then I just kept apologising for crying so much .
Anyway, I can't do it justice really, but it was lovely. There were a few awkward silences at times, but it was also incredibly natural and easy too. They're all very different - in looks and personalities - which sort of surprised me - but I could see a resemblance with each of them in different ways and also as they started talking about their lives there were so many things that were familiar. Apparently I look very like 2 of their aunts . We did keep the conversation quite high-level - I was worried about talking to each of them too specifically because I didn't want the others to feel left out. I am a bit worried about the middle girl because she was sitting the furthest away from me, so I hope she didn't feel ignored in any way. I told them a bit about being adopted and how I'd always known and what the process had been like for my parents and then how the contact started with my BM.
We ended up staying for 2.5 hours which was a shock but it went very quickly. We were all very tired at the end and took some photos before leaving. The SW very much emphasised that this was a one-off and that there could be no expectations of future meetings, but I told them all that I very much wanted to see them again. We didn't make any arrangements and we're all to give it time to settle down. The eldest girl started crying again as we were leaving - I think there's a lot in it for her too, in terms of now having an older 'sister'.
I texted my BM yesterday evening and just told her I thought the day was fantastic and that they were all so lovely and that I was very happy. She texted back saying they were all very happy too and then forwarded an amazing text from her eldest girl, saying how much it meant to her.
I think the biggest shock for me in processing it all, is that I think I love them, which is something I never thought would happen. There were a few times yesterday when I was just looking at them all thinking, this is my family - my second family. And I'm dying to meet them again to talk to them properly and find out more about them. In some ways it's much less complicated than the relationship with my BM, and I think that's to do with me feeling guilt around my own Mum somehow. I don't know where this will go, but I do hope it's the start of something life-long.
Anyway, sorry for waffling on but it's lovely to 'tell' someone IYKWIM. Apart from some therapy for me - I suppose if anyone is facing something similar at some stage, maybe this will help them somehow. Thank you all again .
Aww I'm so pleased it went so well for you all. If it leads to more contact/meaningful relationships great if not you've met them, you've tackled what I can only imagine is an immensely emotional experience and learned some stuff youd never get from letters.
Be kind to yourself over the next few days - it's a rollercoaster
This has brought tears to my eyes! As someone with siblings, we often have silences so no need to give those a second thought. Really happy for you!
I've been mulling contacting my BF. Thankyou for sharing your, very personal, posts. It's helpful to hear from someone who's done it.
Its great that you had such a positive experience.
BoringNameChange2 reading this has really lifted me after a long day and, I don't mind admitting, its brought more than a few tears. I'm so pleased for you that it went so well and I hope that continues so that you get the life-long relationship with your siblings that you're hoping for.
Oh I'm sorry I didn;t see this earlier - no idea why as I have very little to add!
I'm so glad it went well, I know adult adoptees who have a much simpler relationship with their bio-siblings than with their birth parents!
You say that you haven't old your parents - are you not temptes to? I know I would hate to not be a part of such a big event in DS's life but then we have always discussed it (the possibility sadly remote of him meeting birth family) so perhaps it would be an easier thing to raise with me.
I have tears in my eyes that all sounds so overwhelming! I am 36 and considering contacting my birth Mother but too scared at the moment. So glad it went so well for you!! And you sound lovely!
Lovely post, I am so pleased at how it went for you. Take care of yourself and alllow yourself some space to ride the emotions that arise. X
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