I was adopted when I was about 8 weeks old. I was in foster care for those first weeks of my life. Suffice it to say; I don’t remember much of that time. I’ve always been thankful to the family – though I don’t know who they are – who were willing to take me as a newborn and care for me like I was their own, knowing they were going to let me go to a different family for the rest of my life. They did the ultimate selfless act, in my opinion. My understanding of foster care from the start was one where I knew foster families do not do what they do for recognition; they do it because they truly care for others, no questions asked, no terms or conditions.
The family I went to – my family – is the luckiest thing that has ever happened to me. I am truly blessed. I have one older sister, who is biologically theirs. My initial memories and experiences in life taught me that I was wanted. I know how fortunate I am to have that. I know how much of a privilege that is; how much of an advantage it gave me. I am thankful every day for it, knowing not all are that lucky.
The Feeling of Rejection…
The feeling of rejection only slowly and subtly crept its way into my life. Unfortunately, I think this feeling finds its place in every foster kid or adoptees life, no matter how lucky you are. The first memory I have that caused me to question my worth was when I was in first or second grade. We were doing an activity in class about genetics, and we were each handed a sheet of paper that had a list of physical features on it, and check boxes next to them. We were instructed to check off which features we thought we got from our mother or father – eye color, hair, nose, etc. I couldn’t participate. I didn’t know the answers to any of those questions. I didn’t look like my family, not at all. So I started to wonder, why did my biological family, more specifically my mother, give away something that was so definitively hers? Someone who may have had the same eyes, hair and nose? And why did she not want to find out what I looked like? Was she somewhere wondering the same questions I was now wondering, or did she not care? Was I not worthy of her love? The only conclusion I could come to at that age was that she must not care, otherwise she would have kept me. Thus, the knowledge of rejection stepped into my life.
Five Minutes On Facebook
My parents were always supportive of me trying to find my biological family. We had a limited amount of information in my adoption file that might help us find them, and I always had access to that information. I remember sending letters to the address that we had for my biological grandmother, little things like that. Nothing ever led anywhere, but I still knew I had my parents support there. After I turned eighteen, I started trying to look for myself. I called the hospital where I was born, I did name searches on the Internet, and I still didn’t get anywhere. When I was 22, I searched for my biological grandmother’s name on Facebook. There was one search result. I couldn’t believe it. I knew my biological mother’s first name, so I looked at the friend’s list of the woman I thought to be my grandmother, and there she was. I saw her picture and I knew. This woman had my face, my hair. This was the answer I had spent my life looking for. I was able to find a current address for my grandmother, and I wrote her explaining everything and giving all of my information in the case that she or my mother wanted contact. Within a few days, I received a phone call from my grandmother, and a following phone call from my birth mother. I still couldn’t believe it. Five minutes on Facebook and I had found it all.
Rejection Barges In
Our relationship started off really well. Everyone wanted contact, everyone was excited we had found each other, everyone was happy. I met my birth mother a few months later, and my two half-sisters not long after that. We all had dinner together, including my parents and my sister. It was a whirlwind. The thing about whirlwinds, though, is that they always wind down. After some further attempts to spend more time together, something started to feel off. The effort I was putting out wasn’t being reciprocated, and our contact slowly started to taper off. This took course over a few years. At some point, I made the decision to stop putting in the effort to maintain the relationships. I didn’t feel like it was fair to myself to try and try, when I wasn’t getting anything in return. Rejection didn’t creep in, this time it barged in. I started asking myself, what is it about me that they don’t want? I could no longer answer that with the fact that they didn’t know me. They did know me, and they claimed to want to know me, yet there was no follow through. What did I do wrong? I wasn’t comfortable enough with them to outright ask this, so I didn’t. Recently, I made the decision to end all contact with them, even if they initiate it. It wasn’t healthy for me anymore. I am working on making peace with it, and I believe I’ll get there. But that doesn’t make it any easier. Rejection is awful and hard and I don’t think anyone is ever prepared for it. It’s also this big part of life for adoptees and foster kids, and their caretakers also. We all have to figure out a way to deal with it, to work through it, to overcome it.
What To Do When There Is No Interest In Contact?
So what do you do when you realize that your biological family isn’t as interested in being in contact with you as you are with them?
- As the adoptee, I turn those feelings of confusion and anger and hurt around and I throw myself into loving the people who actively choose to be in my life. It takes time, but you come to realize that family is not always linked to you through genetics, family doesn’t always look like you, but family is made up of a group of people who love and support you, who believe in you, especially when you aren’t doing so well with believing in yourself. Self worth can be a hard thing to accrue, especially when the cards seem to be stacked against you, but the people in your life who are kind to you place a lot of it within you. There are still times when the rejection hits me out of nowhere, and sometimes that pain can transfer onto the people who are trying to love me. I have done my fair share of pushing people away because I’m afraid of more rejection, and I think that’s something I will always have to work on. I also work through all of this with a therapist. Sometimes I can’t find the answers I need within my family, so having a professional there to help me has always been a great asset.
- As for the caretakers, I’ll speak from my knowledge of what my caretakers have done for me, and what I try to do for my niece, who was a fostered and adopted by my sister. You will never be able to explain away the actions of your kid’s biological family. It may feel like that’s your job, but from my experience, it’s not what we as fosters or adoptees even need. We need to know that we are loved and valued, especially when we’re angry about the actions of our biological family. You’ll do your best at showing us this, but we won’t always be able to show you that it makes an impact on us. I’m telling you that it does, especially when we try to push it away. I remember pushing my mom away when I was younger because I thought she would at some point reject or abandon me as I felt my birth mother had done. It took me a long time to have a healthy relationship with my adoptive mom, one where I wasn’t afraid of her rejection or abandonment. Her steadfast acceptance of me and her unconditional love were always there for me, and I am able to look back at the times in my life where I tried my best to push it all away and know that it never wavered.
That’s what we need, so know that when you give these things to us that they are making a huge impact on us and we will always have those memories and feelings to look back on. You as caretakers are doing exactly the right thing – taking care of us, in the now and for our future. You may not be able to explain why our biological families cause us pain, but you are teaching us what it is to be loved, and that is the most important thing in life for every one of us.
About the blogger: Rebecca Weibert, 30, is an aspiring professional organizer and also a collector of all things nerdy and awesome. As an adoptee and a woman living with mental illness, Rebecca puts her energy into being a fierce advocate for these causes that are close to her heart. A voracious reader, a Ravenclaw, and a budding painter, Rebecca lives in Maryland with her husband, Scott, and a menagerie of cats.