Starting a Birth Mom Search?

Today I started researching how to find Silent One’s birth family (aka first family). Man, it’s daunting.

Finding a birth mom seems like the proverbial needle in the haystack. Looking online, it seems there are some search services, but how do you know if they’re reputable? How much is a reasonable cost? What’s the likelihood of success?

More importantly, should I even be doing the search?

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In my mind’s eye, I envision handing a package to Silent One shortly after he turns 18. Inside, it contains his birth records and adoption papers. There’s a hand-written note, telling him that inside another envelope is information about what his birth family is doing now, who’s alive, and where they live. This note lets him know that he doesn’t have to open it. That he can save it for later. Or for never. That the love we have for him will always remain and that knowing or not knowing his birth family won’t change this fact.

But maybe this is a journey that adoptees need to undertake by themselves.

I don’t want Silent One to feel pushed.

But I also don’t want to wait until it’s too late, and the trail has grown cold. As time marches on, people pass away and documents get misplaced. Gathering the information now is a way to safeguard that treasure for him.

Still, so much was taken from Silent One when he was just a little boy. He had no choice in losing his first family and gaining a second.

Maybe the right thing to do is gather the information, but not share it unless he says he wants to look for his first mama?

I Killed the Dog

I killed the dog. Actually, I didn’t. Our dog is still alive. But Watchful still thinks that I did. Here’s what actually happened.

Our sixteen-year-old son Silent One’s hamster died of natural causes today. The little critter simply curled up in his tiny hut and never woke up. Hamsters don’t live forever and since we rescued the hamster from the animal shelter, he had already lived a long time.

This hamster meant a lot to Silent One. The hamster was his responsibility, his first pet. The hamster was “adopted” from a shelter and Silent One was adopted, too. The hamster slept right by his bed, the first thing Silent One saw when he awoke and the last thing he saw when he went to sleep (while except for maybe his iPhone – but I digress).

So Silent One was understandably very sad.

Eight-year-old Watchful shares a room with Silent One. Where Silent One sought me out for hugs and solace, Watchful accused me of assassinating the hamster. And since I am a pet killer, it just makes sense that I would kill our family dog, too. Then, he saw the knife on the kitchen counter since I was making lunch. This is undeniable proof that I have killed the dog, too. So, Watchful expressed his anger at my murderous tendencies for the next hour.

I called the dog over to Watchful to show him that she was very much alive, thinking this would put an end to the accusation of me being a dog killer. I realize now how foolish and faulty my logic was.

Trauma twists reality. If you have been beaten and threatened by your bio mom, leaving you to fear for your life on a daily basis for years, then surely your foster mom, who is a mom, must also be a cold hearted abuser. The presence of the living dog for this one moment cannot overcome the years of abuse and lack of safety.

So, while I do not like to be thought of as a dog killer, since I am not an animal murderer, I get where Watchful’s coming from.

But try explaining that to a heart-broken Silent One.

To make things worse, our 10-year-old foster daughter Joyful was making helpful suggestions like we should just go to the store and get a new pet, because everyone knows pets are replaceable. And probably she should get to choose which animal, because, you know, she wants to choose. At least, she thought it was a sad situation.

So I pulled aside both Joyful and Watchful. I explained the short life span of hamsters and the circle of life. And then talked about ways to be sensitive to Silent One’s loss. For example, Joyful can express her sadness, but she will not suggest Silent One get a new pet for at least one week. For Watchful, there’s no talking about the hamster’s death at all to Silent One for one week – but he can talk about it with other adults.

And so goes life in our bio-adoptive-foster family home.

Birth Certificates: Erasing Birth Parents’ Names

Should birth parents’ names be erased from birth certificates and replaced with adoptive parents’ names?  Rebecca of Fosterhood wrote a very moving and thought-provoking piece on why this practice should be banned.  All My Pretty Ones wrote additional support.  And I agree with Rebecca and AMPO … to a point.

Erasing Birth Parents’ Names Denies their Importance

Birth parents play an incredibly important role in children’s lives.  They gave the children life, their looks, their temperament, etc.  Birth parents should most definitely be respected, honored and cherished, and falsifying who really gave birth or fathered children seems to be unbelievably disrespectful.

Official Documents Should be Truthful

I don’t want my name to be listed as having given birth to my son (it wouldn’t be true!).  It’s a record of his BIRTH.  Why should government employees be knowingly and willfully faking official records?

Adoption is Awesome

Why create a lie?  Adoption is no longer a cause for shame.  We are proud of our son’s heritage, history and first family.  We think adoption is an awesome choice and way to make a family.  Open adoption is the norm now.

BUT…

Adoptees Have the Right to Disclose

My son, like many other adoptees, likes to decide who to tell about his life history.  If he knows you, likes you, and feels comfortable, he may choose to reveal this intensely personal aspect of his life.  Birth certificates are used in many different transactions: registering for school, getting a driver’s license, getting a marriage license, etc.  Why should he be forced to share his story with random strangers if he doesn’t feel comfortable?  And let me tell you that school officials will make certain assumptions about your child based off of adoptive status! (argh!)

Older, Foster Adoptees Particularly Sensitive

Children adopted at an older age and children adopted out of foster care may be particularly sensitive about wanting control over to whom and how to disclose their adoptive status.  Having lived with birth parents for a period of their lives, having suffered trauma and loss, they often are highly selective about with whom they talk about adoption.  Can they trust this person with their biggest, deepest emotions?  It raises such painful memories.  And people tend to ask probing questions about what it was like.  And sometimes (uneducated) people think differently of children after they disclose.

So  I have no clear answer here.  What are your thoughts?