I recently consulted via Skype with a fellow adult adoptee who had recently gained her birth mother’s contact information and was seeking my advice in deciding upon a method of contact that may feel the least intrusive to her birth mom.
Before our scheduled consult, I re-read a bit of Simone Weil’s work, and felt guided by her quote:
Prior to contacting me this adoptee had already surveyed her husband, friends and other adoptees, in an effort to gauge and quantify the risks of choosing snail mail vs email, vs a phone call etc. to make this first contact. She was working so hard in contemplating how she could tactfully and respectfully gain this precious (albeit basic and foundational) information. She was working so hard trying to appease everyone else, and trying to preemptively ensure that her birthmother would feel comfortable in an inherently uncomfortable position. During the course of our conversation, she coyly asked: “How do I explain how it is that I found her phone number? I had to snoop (search angels, confidential intermediaries, agency contacts etc.) to find it!” My response:
Of course you had to sleuth! How else does an adoptee in a closed adoption gain this information?
It is only through the unfortunate separation of this adoptee and her birth family that she and I were able to be linked together. We shared a life-giving conversation that both honored others while she learned the value of honoring herself in weighing her personal thoughts of best practice in this unchartered territory. As Simone Weil states; “Compassion directed toward oneself is true humility.”
Adoptees have a unique understanding of the fact that our rights are largely subject to varying circumstances, however we cannot deny the incredible pull we feel in needing to know our roots. There is no perfect way for even the most sycophant of adoptees to gain information that should’ve been made available years ago.