“Often it feels like the ‘experts’ in a field of study, do not actually have any personal experience within that area. I definitely think that is how it works in the world of foster care and adoption.
Adoptees frequently do not get a voice because they fear hurting a parent or loved one, or they are silenced by those who speak for us and say we should be so grateful for the life we were given. I was an adoptee who wanted desperately to have a biological connection with someone, however, when nothing worked out according to my own plans, I found healing and the deepest connection in the most unlikely place.
I was born to a teen mom who knew she was unable to care for me. She sacrificially gave me up for adoption so that I could have a wonderful life.
My adoptive parents always stressed to me how much she loved me and how sad she was to give me up for adoption. I would always hang on to that when I felt misunderstood or frustrated with my parents.
The Struggle Of Belonging
As I approached adolescence, I placed so much blame for the internal struggles I was having on my adoption. I felt so strongly that because I was not biologically related to my parents, they could not possibly understand me.
I now understand that these are very common feelings that all teenagers have. However, because I was adopted, I felt that my lack of biological connection was the reason I could not understand or connect with my parents.
I would often look at other families with longing and think they had a better connection than I could ever possibly have with my parents. I realize now that what I saw in public was definitely not reality, but in my mind there was absolutely something missing from my life because I did not have that biological connection.
I had a closed adoption, so I was unable to even begin to search for my biological mother until I turned eighteen. Those teenage years felt longer and longer the closer I got to my eighteenth birthday.
I would lay in bed at night fantasizing about how incredible it would be when I finally got to meet my biological mother. I dreamed that we would instantly know who each other was from across the room, run into each other’s arms, and have an incredibly beautiful connection that was unexplainable by anything other than the DNA we shared. The fantasy got bigger and more intense the older I got.
Finding My Roots
On my eighteenth birthday, I discovered it was going to be harder to find my biological mother than I originally thought it would be since the internet was not well developed at that time, and I had very little information to go off of. I soon realized that meeting her was not going to happen right then, so I turned my focus to college.
After I had graduated from college and I was living on my own for the first time, I decided to try to do some searching again. Those four years made a huge difference in what was available online, so I was able to find my biological mother.
Social media was not what it is today, so all I had was her address. I wrote her a letter that included my email address and then waited. It took about a week, but she did write back.
After a few times of writing back and forth, we decided it was time to meet up. She lived almost four hours from me at the time, so we made plans to meet at a hotel half way.
This was going to be it! I was finally going to have my incredible moment and immediate connection that I had always dreamed of.
Meeting My Biological Mother
The day finally came and I was beyond excited to make the trip. I got stuck in some traffic so she got to the hotel before me. I thought that was perfect! I was going to have the moment I had always dreamed of; I was going to walk in, see her from across the room, and run to meet her.
When I walked in, the exact opposite happened. I saw her and walked up to her, but she was quiet and did not seem to want to see me at all. I later found out that she was legally blind so she was unable to see me well. However, she still could have had more enthusiasm in getting to meet her daughter for the first time since birth.
My soul was immediately crushed. Was I not good enough? Why was I such a disappointment to her?
I was still determined to try to work for that connection, but over the course of the next several months, it became obvious that the only value she saw in me was trying to find a way to get things out of me. I felt smothered and used, rather than understood or connected.
I had no choice but to end the relationship for my own mental health. It broke my heart, but I had no choice. I later learned that there were a lot of mental health issues that complicated the entire situation.
Adoptive Motherhood & Finding Meaning
Several years later, I married my wonderful husband, Brian, and we decided to try for children right away. I could not wait to finally be able to have biological children so that once and for all I could get the biological connection I had been looking for my entire life.
After several months had turned into a year, we decided to seek out medical help for our infertility. We tried a few things, but untimely decided that we did not want to put a lot of money into fertility treatments when there were other children out there who needed a home. After four years of trying, we officially became foster parents and waited for our first placements.
We knew that it was highly unlikely that we would have the opportunity to adopt right away and that was okay with us. Our first placements were sisters who became available for adoption after only about nine months of us having them. Another year later, we officially adopted them and they were ours forever.
It was hard, and there was so much pain and suffering that took place during those first years. Those girls had lost the family they were born into, and they were learning to love our family in a new way.
As I watched them go through their loss, and then through their healing be able to find contentment and joy in our new little family, I realized that biology really had nothing to do with connection and feeling fulfilled. We worked hard to build those connections because it did not come naturally, but it was so incredibly rewarding as we saw our relationship and love grow in our home.
I swore I would never adopt because I only wanted biological connections. However, in doing something that I did not actually want to do initially, I found an incredible sense of healing in the realization that connection and understanding does not come from shared DNA.
I really feel that our society places way too much emphasis on maintaining biological connections in toxic situations.
There have been countless times as a foster parent where I have been in a court room listening to authority figures make decisions based on biology, rather than what would be emotionally healthy for a child. It makes me want to scream, because I wasted so much time and energy convincing myself that a biological family member, of any kind, was what would make me feel complete, when in reality my healing came from two beautiful girls who do not share any of my DNA.
Biology does not change anything. Only love and hard work can fulfill those deepest desires for connection. DNA simply does not matter.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Anna Bernacki. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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