Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Search (or is it really stalking?)

I'm starting to feel a little like a stalker.

And, I think, I'm getting a little taste of what it must feel like to be an adoptee searching for your birthparents. (And, I have to say, it's not an entirely comfortable feeling.)

We had sent packages to the kids' birth mom for Christmas. And, Ashley was very excited because she had carefully picked out gifts and made a card for her birth family.

But then the packages came back, FOE (forwarding order expired) stamped all over them.

Ashley is always very excited when packages arrive at our home, so when the boxes came back, she couldn't wait to open them, hoping they were a belated Christmas gift.

Then I explained what they were, and she was devastated.

So, what's a mom to do? I started trying to figure out how I could find her birth mom.

First, I googled her. No luck.

Then I tried Facebook. After all, it's how I've gotten back in touch with countless old friends.

A quick search and I found the kids' birth mom, and through her friend's list -- the kids' birth grandmother, birth aunt, and birth uncle.

And then I wondered, what's the etiquette for this?

We send letters and pictures a few times a year. Over the past few years, I've invited more contact from the birth mom, but she hasn't chosen to have more contact. Perhaps she'd feel a little strange getting a message from me through Facebook.

But, then again, in our adoption paperwork, there is a section in which the birthmother is asked whether she wants identifying information shared with her children when they turn 18 or with the adoptive parents prior to that for the purposes of maintaining and/or renewing contact. She checked yes.

All of my interactions with the kids' birthmom has led me to believe that she welcomes the photos and information that we send and that she hopes for ongoing contact.

So, I sent her a Facebook message. And waited. . . . .  And waited.

Then I checked her Facebook wall. (Okay, this is where I start to feel a little like a stalker -- but I comfort myself with the fact that the wall was public.) There's no activity on her wall since early December -- so I'm not sure how often she's on Facebook.

Since we have met the birth grandmother, and I feel we have some relationship with her, I checked out her wall. (This is where I feel like even more of a stalker -- but again, the wall was public.) Her last activity was in the fall, but I decided I'd send a message to her anyway.

I wasn't terribly surprised not to hear back. Clearly, they're not Facebook addicts.

So for the last couple of weeks I've been entertaining the idea of contacting the birth mom's sister and brother. We met her sister briefly when Luke was born. We've never met her brother.

It feels strange to contact them.

But Ashley so desperately wants some connection -- any connection -- with her birth family.

Her sister's wall is set to private, so I send her a message. Her brother's wall is public, and his last activity was Friday -- 2 days ago! -- so I send him a message, too. (I figure I'm in full stalker mode now -- and it feels even more strange since I feel no real relationship with either of them.)

Somewhere in the midst of all these attempts to reach out to their birth mom, I realize that this is what my children will likely go through if they ever opt to search for their birth fathers or if we're unable to re-establish contact with their birth mom, and they must try later in their lives to find her.

It's odd to have this little window into their experience as adoptees. And I think how sad that they might one day end up feeling a little like stalkers just to establish connections with their biological roots.

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