“I just received my non identifying information. What do I do next?”
What do you want to do? I was not asked what I wanted to do. I was asked Why I wanted to do anything at all. I was asked why finding my family mattered at all. I believe most of us have heard at least one of these questions. We may not have been asked, with any sincerity, just what we wanted, needed, to do next.
Perhaps you do not really know what you want to do with the information you are holding in your hands. Like me, you may have received documents, opened the envelope, then set the envelope down and backed away, slowly.
Not knowing exactly what you want or need is perfectly okay. Normal, even. I haven’t met a single adopted person who has everything figured out from the beginning. For me, the wants and needs have evolved over time. The wants and needs seem to reveal themselves in fits and starts, or peer coyly at me from around a corner, beckoning me on. Sometimes the journey of discovery happens in a rush, like plunging down whitewater rapids. Most of the time, though, I proceed like a slightly tipsy person, dancing the Time Warp, just a jump to the left, and then a step to the right.
There are no rules except the ones you make for yourself. Plunge in, dance, proceed in baby steps, pursue the answers with determination, on any schedule you desire.
You will receive plenty of advice, if you choose to ask. Some will be good advice, some bad, some middling. Some will be given with good intent, some with malice aforethought. The why of this is because – there are no rules. What worked for one person may not work for you. What works for you may not work for someone else.
I wish there were rules. A sugar cookie recipe for reunion.
The truth is that some reunions do conjure sugar cookie sweetness. The truth is that many leave a bitter taste in your mouth. You just don’t know until you take a bite which type yours will be.
There are some resources worth considering before you decide which course to follow.
If you can afford one, do a DNA test. Ancestry has the largest database. 23 and Me provides the best health information. Read the fine print and decide if you feel comfortable with your genetic material being used (anonymously) for research, and if you want to opt in or out for law enforcement access to results.
Find a support group. The best ones for adoptees who are thinking of searching are, in my opinion, adoptee-centric, private and adoptee only. These are also the best, again in my opinion, for day to day support as you live adopted.
Read some books. There is a growing selection of memoirs on the market and in libraries that are written by adopted people.
Form a support system for yourself to turn to when this adoption reunion process is overwhelming, painful, surprising, amazing, discouraging, hopeful- all the feelings.
Have some self soothing strategies.
Remember that, no matter what you decide to do, no matter what you discover about yourself or others along the way: You are valuable. You matter. Value yourself. Be kind to yourself.
We are glad you are here.
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