I found out I was adopted very young. I didn’t really know how to handle the whole concept for a while, but as I got older it became a much bigger deal in my life. I would sit for hours and wonder who my natural parents were, what they looked like, what they enjoyed doing, if they had other kids, etc., etc. I had ridiculous thoughts about who they could be and at very trying moments in my adolescence even made up stories about it – which I understand is common among adopted children, but it makes me no less embarrassed and remorseful.
After I turned 18, I thought about starting the search process, but I ultimately decided against it. Repeat process at 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24 years of age. At 25, I decided to take the first step and retrieve non-identifying information about my natural parents. I found out a few facts in that process, and the information satisfied me for a while, but then I needed to know more. So I started the search and reunion process through the State of Tennessee on several occasions, ultimately stopping each time because I felt like the door to that part of my life was closed.
At 38 and two years into the search and reunion process, I see things a little differently and that’s what I want to share today. I’m going to put the rest of this post in bullets because the thoughts are varied and it may help me keep common thoughts together.
- Information and relationship aren’t the same thing. For a long time, I truly believe I just wanted information about my natural parents. I wanted facts and figures, but I wasn’t ready for a relationship. I needed to know who I looked like, but didn’t necessarily want to see myself in that person on a daily basis. I wanted to know where my personality traits came from, but didn’t necessarily want to add another person to my circle of family and friends. I thought it would be cool to meet my natural parents, but didn’t necessarily want to invest the time and energy it would take to heal any wounds from our separation. Information is easy. Relationship is not.
- I have repeated the same process with God. The interesting thing about having parents you’ve never met is that you can make them into whatever you want them to be. You can create the best pictures or the worst pictures depending on your mood on that particular day. And when you get information about them, you can begin to feel satisfied just knowing some facts and figures. After all, reconciling with a mom and dad who decided to relinquish you (and their parental rights) to another family would be messy and painful. At various points in my life, I’ve felt that exact same way about God. I knew all the facts and figures, but I hesitated to really know God because that meant I had to give something of myself. I had to deal with my feelings of anger and resentment about times I felt like he abandoned me. I had to address what appeared to be contradictions in his nature. I had to do something in response to his desire for a relationship with me. And that’s just not easy all the time.
- Reality is better than imagination. Developing relationships with my natural parents and other members of my natural families has been one of the most deeply rewarding experiences of my life. My natural parents are actually way cooler than any picture I created of them. And once I decided that I wasn’t going to hold my natural parents accountable for decisions they made when they were teenagers, the whole concept of search and reunion changed for me. I began to embrace the potential of having a relationship with each of them and moving forward. I still have questions about the past, and I ask those when they surface in my mind, but there are no wrong answers. Just honest answers. And that makes the reality of relationship with them better than anything I imagined. The relationships aren’t perfect, but they are real, and that makes them as close to perfect as human relationships will get.
- I want to get better about relationship with God. I’m not sure how much I really know God versus imagine what he’s like and have information about God versus having relationship with him, but I think it’s time to address that situation. Because he is perfect and whatever I imagine about him pales in comparison to how awesome he really is and that’s exciting to me. So I think it’s time I started a search and reunion process with God. If you are interested in joining me, let me know.