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Why it took me 20 years to attend a General Discussion Meeting

In hindsight, I was…Foolish. Prideful. Unaware.

I was an adoption social worker. I was a professional. I referred clients to Adoption Network Cleveland. But I was also an adoptee – an adoptee who was in the middle of a 47- year search. An adoptee who could have used the support of Adoption Network Cleveland’s General Discussion Meetings. Only I thought the meetings were for other people, not for me.

In part, as an adoption social worker, I was very aware of the work and the importance of Adoption Network Cleveland. Working at Adoption Network would be a dream job for me. And I was afraid that if I attended a General Meeting, that would be looked upon as a “weakness,” and would eliminate me from ever getting hired by them. It’s only been since they hired me last year that I’ve begun attending the General Meetings and am realizing how much I missed. How much I cheated myself.

The General Meetings, contrary to my preconceptions, are not therapy groups. People aren’t dependent because they choose to attend. The groups are all about support – and even more than that – understanding. Where else can a group of adult adoptees and birthparents and adoptive parents sit and talk to other people who “get it”? Suddenly I was surrounded by people who understood. It was like I no longer had to translate myself; others simply spoke the same language: the adoption language.

I had searched for and found my birthmother before Adoption Network Cleveland even existed. If I had been able to access their guidance back then, would the reunion have gone better/lasted? Through their Search Assistance, Adoption Network did offer guidance when I was reaching out to my half-sister, how I would have benefitted from the support and encouragement I would have found at the General Discussion Meetings during that time!

Thanks to DNA, my search is now complete, and my newly found birth family members and I are forging new relationships. And now, I have the support of the General Discussion Meetings to guide me through these newest challenges.  I’m so thankful that I have found this wonderful resource: the support, the sharing, the camaraderie, and the caring. The General Meetings offer something unique, something that can’t be found anywhere else. I’m glad that I’m now a part of these circles of caring.

All those who are impacted by adoption are invited to attend General Discussion Meetings. Meetings provide a safe and supportive environment for members of the adoption constellation to share and hear each other’s perspectives. For more information, dates, locations and times, please visit: http://bit.ly/generalmtgs or contact Deb at deborah.wentz@adoptionnetwork.org or (216) 482-2327.

Deb Wentz is the Program Associate, Adult Adoptees and Birthparents at Adoption Network Cleveland and an adoptee.