Ask the Adoption Coach: Meeting My Birth Daughter

Reader: Next month I am going to be meeting with my daughter that I placed for adoption, almost 20 years ago. We have met up once before, but in a room with 4 other people. This time it will be just her and  me. I am nervous, but excited. I would love to get an idea of what type of questions adoptees have for their birthmothers, so I can be prepared! I have a scrapbook filled with letters and cards that I received while pregnant, and a photo album filled with pictures up until she was 3, only because I stopped scrapbooking. But I have a ton of pics throughout her 20 years. I was thinking of taking it to the meeting to show her. What are your thoughts on that?
Adoption Coach:
Dear Reader:
What an exciting opportunity! Meeting your daughter will take courage and strength. Hopefully the meeting will be a rewarding experience for you both and a beautiful beginning.
First, I think it’s a wonderful idea to take your scrapbook with you and share it with your daughter. It’s an honest and heartfelt way to show how much you love her and how you have always been mindful of her well-being.
You asked what questions might your daughter have for you. I asked two adult adoptees, both women, what questions they might have (or did have) for their biological parents. I hope their responses are helpful in preparing you for your time with your daughter.
Angela Tucker, a woman whose reunification with her biological family is chronicled in the documentary CLOSURE, shared, “A wise and educated guess may lead towards a thinking that an adopted child may ask their birth mother the hard questions – the why’s and how’s regarding their conception and need for an adoption plan. This seems rational to me, however the first questions I had for my birth mother weren’t questions at all – I wanted to see her. I wanted to look at the shape of her face, the length of her eyelashes, the texture of her hair. After I took all of those visuals in, my questions were quite simple. I wanted to know all of the things that we take for granted in knowing about our family and friends – I wanted to know the inflection and tone of her voice, what makes her laugh? Is she a people person, or an introvert like me. I think the things that an adoptee wants to know about their birth mother, and the things they feel comfortable asking depends on the health and status of their relationship. I certainly would like to know the answers to the big questions, but I’m quite aware that those questions will be asked in due time. Respect is important to me. I may seek to know if it’s important to her as well by the way she answers my questions.”
I also asked Madeline Melcher, adoptee and adoptive mother of three, as well as the author of How To Create a Successful Adoption Portfolio, for her advice. She replied, “My question would be: are YOU happy? Because I have lived a happy and blessed life and wish the same for her.”
There are many resources available that might help you and your daughter navigate your relationship. First, I recommend Jessica Lost: A Story of Birth, Adoption, & The Meaning of Motherhood, a book co-written by an adult adoptee and her biological mother. Also, there are two wonderful books that center on adoptees that I recommend: Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew and The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child. There are also two stand-out books on open adoption relationships: The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption (a book written by an adoptive mother with contributions from her daughter’s biological mother) and The Open Adoption Experience: A Complete Guide for Adoptive and Birth Families. I also recommend the website Open Adoption Bloggers, a network I’m proud to be a part of, where all triad members share their experiences with open adoption relationships.
Finally, there is a fabulous fill-in-the-blank journal called All About Me. You might purchase two copies of it. You and your daughter could each fill one out and exchange them as a way to further get to know one another.
Enjoy your time with your daughter, relishing in every precious moment you get to spend together!

Written by Jason Granillo

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