As a young child I knew I was adopted. Instead of keeping it from me my parents reminded me how special my situation was. I was a curious kid, I had lots of questions: When did they get me? Who were my birthparents? Why did this happen? When I was old enough to better understand the situation, my parents explained everything as best as they knew at the time.
My short life at that point was quite adventurous. I was removed from the custody of my birthparents at just 6 days old and placed in a foster home. From there I was quickly adopted.
As I got older my adoptive parents explained that I had a brother, James, born to the same set of parents that I was. My brother was adopted by his foster parents and his family moved to Massachusetts when he was very young. At that time I was adopted by my family and we stayed in Ohio. Despite being separated, our adoptive parents stayed in touch for years. As we grew up we were able to get know each other, even before we could write or talk to one another. Finally in 2011, when I was 30 and James was 32, we had the chance to meet in person. We immediately noticed how we sounded alike, stood the same way, and had a lot more in common than we realized. That day, and the following week we spent together, changed us both for the better!
As our relationship progressed some questions lingered for both of us: Why do we look the way we do? Do we take after our birthmother, or our birthfather? This was around the time I reached out to Adoption Network Cleveland. I spoke with a search assistance staff member about ways to find out more about our birth family and found support to begin searching for our birthparents. Soon we realized my brother’s adoptive parents had information we didn’t think to inquire about before: the names of our birthparents.
With a little research and one or two phone calls later I was in touch with our maternal birth grandmother. She knew exactly who I was when I started to speak with her, and she was able to tell me the story of how we both came to be adopted. I was fascinated. My brother and I met our birth grandmother the following summer. We were overjoyed! She is a firecracker of energy for such a small lady! There was incredible healing that day for the three of us. After a little more research we met with our father, his sister (our birth aunt), and their parents (our paternal birth grandparents). As soon as we met our birthfather, many of those outstanding questions were answered for me and my brother. I knew instantly why I looked the way that I did, and why my brother and I sounded similar. In that moment there was clarity, and some of the gaps in my life were instantly filled.
For adoptees, there are many questions that persist until you have the answers to them. Even if you feel that you are not connected to that part of who you once were, and you have no desire to be connected, there are still parts of you that are not complete. For me, it was getting to know my brother and who he is that answered many of those questions for me. We are very close today and I am forever grateful for the fact that we have the chance to be brothers and to experience life together, something that we didn’t have for the first 30 years of our lives. Meeting our birth family – father, aunt and grandparents –only helped to fill other gaps in our lives that helped shape who we are.