Writing prompt from Lost Daughters for NAM: For those who have searched for birth family, talk about the impetus that lead you to search, the emotions leading up to making contact, and the reactions of those family members you found.
For those who have been found by birth family, talk about your emotions upon being contacted and your response to the person who found you.
For those who have not searched nor have been found, talk about whether or not you feel you ever will search and the reasons for your choice.
These questions aren’t exactly conducive to being answered by an adoptee from open adoption (in my situation anyway), but I want to try to answer the prompt for today.
I was 4 years old when I first remember seeing my mom. I had actually only been separated from my mom 3 years prior when I was just shy of a year old. I’m sure I had prominent memories of her, but sadly, I couldn’t remember them then and I don’t remember them now. I keep focusing on that word, “found.” I guess the implication is that I had been lost during that time we were apart. That doesn’t accurately describe it though.
I felt as though I had been given responsibility to keep up with something that I had failed to keep sight of. I was a 4 year old wandering through life looking for something.
My lack of ability to keep up with what I had been given wasn’t something that I fully realized. It’s like losing all of your traditions. You just know that something that was everything, the meaning, the importance of life, is now gone. Someone asks, “What is it you’ve lost.” And you try to explain, “Well, it’s this thing that used to occur. It was important because it defined everything about me. It doesn’t happen anymore. But I can’t stop looking for it. I’ve been careless and now it’s gone.”
Except 4 year olds don’t have the language to explain that it wasn’t a thing.
“I wish I had a sister,” was the best I could do.
I’m sure I recalled my sisters. Somewhere in my memory I could see the faint images of us playing or fighting or singing together – that tradition I had lost. I said, “I wish I had a sister” so many times that my adopter finally had enough of it and blurted out that I did have a sister. In fact I had 2.
So yes, maybe I had been lost. But more than that, I had lost something. Something important. And when that something important walked into the place where I had been looking for it for 3 years, everything went to shades or orange and red, warmth and sunshine. So that is my memory of seeing my mom for the first time. Sunshine.
She radiated tenderness, calmness, sweetness, softness. It was the first time I ever liked the sound of my own name. In her presence, I felt steady, embraced, loved, accepted – it felt like there would be nothing I could do wrong.
To be young and stupid.
So to answer the question, “my emotions upon contact?” I felt like I could stop looking and stop blaming myself for losing. I found what I had lost.