Earlier this year, Hope asked me how I would feel about her trying to find her birth mother. I immediately replied that I would help her any way I could and that if a healthy relationship was possible I would help facilitate it.
Then she never brought it up again.
I know it’s still in there somewhere. Hope has strong feelings about her mother; I’ll say they are complicated and leave it at that.
Having been found by her paternal extended family just after finalizing our adoption was emotionally challenging for both of us. It brought up a lot of resentment, a lot of grief, but also a lot of love and connectivity. Frankly, it remains a challenging relationship with our extended family, but families are complicated, right?
So Hope’s mom…I’ve always been curious. Not much is known about her. I know certain things about her and I know what Hope thinks she remembers, but was more likely told about her mother since they were separated at such a very young age. No one has pictures of her; I asked.
A few times I broached the subject with Hope about wanting to just know where she was, and Hope said no. She seemed intent on closing this door.
Given all that I’ve learned over the last few years, listening to adoptees, I figured it would come back around, probably more than a couple of times. So, when she asked me about how I would feel about finding her; I wasn’t surprised by the inquiry. Actually I felt prepared for it.
Now that I look back on it and our growth through these last few months, I suspect that she was might have been curious about*my* feelings on finding her mother than on her desire to actually find her mother.
But, even the most remote interest gave me permission to pull out my keyboard and start searching.
I had her mother’s name and not much else.
About two months ago, I thought I found her on Facebook. Some of the sketchy details matched up; not everything, but really close. I could not stop looking at her picture. I searched it for Hope’s features, her skin tone. I wondered what my daughter looked like as a newborn; did she look like this woman?
I was consumed by this profile for a good week or so, and then one day I convinced myself that this was not Hope’s mother.
I was disappointed.
I wondered why was I looking, would it be better if I waited for Hope to be ready? Clearly, this was more about my curiosity at this point than hers. What would I do if I actually found her? I wondered if she even wanted to be found. Most of all, having realized that I didn’t find her, I felt a little twinge of pain in thinking she was lost to me, to us, to Hope. I wondered what that twinge of discomfort felt and how exponentially magnified it must feel for my daughter…to be lost again.
I walked away from the search that day.
A few weeks later, one Sunday morning, while sipping coffee in my PJs and watching Law and Order, I found myself searching again.
I can only explain it as a deep, bottomless curiosity about my daughter’s background. I wanted to know her full story; I love her and want to know everything about her. I want to know or at least see the person who birthed her. I didn’t know what I would do if and when I found her, but I just wanted this information so badly. I’d like to say I wanted to have it for when Hope was ready and I could just give it to her, the truth would be that I desperately wanted to know for myself. Who is Hope’s birth mother? What does that biological link look like?
I don’t know if it’s my own infertility grief or that I’m nosey, or if knowing would somehow bring me even closer to Hope. I still had no plan for what I would do with the information after finding it. Who would I tell? What would I tell Hope? Who would support me in this crazy wild goose chase?
I never doubted that searching was the right decision; I just couldn’t comprehend what I would do with information about Hope’s mother when I found it.
Well, thanks to the power of the internet, a big hint on a search string and $35 I found her in short order from the comfort of my couch that Sunday morning. It took me longer to get out my credit card and decide whether making the information purchase was the right thing to do than the actual search for the info.
Before I knew it, I had her address, her phone number, and a background check. Two minutes later I was looking at her face on Facebook.
When I saw this woman, I knew right away, this was Hope’s birth mother. I saw that as much as my daughter looked like her paternal family, she bears a striking resemblance to her birth mother: the shape of her face, her eyes, her hair, her long limbs. It was meaningful to see the woman who gave her life because so many people comment that Hope looks like me and I think that it’s just not true. Putting me side by side her birth mother and the blood relationship is apparent.
I read the report over and over, committing some of it to memory. I saved it to the external hard drive. I printed out a copy and put it in my file box.
And then I went back to Facebook stalking her. There wasn’t much to see, with us not being friends. I saw a few pictures, a few pictures of friends and relatives. I would check ever so often in hopes that she was one of those folks who changed their profile picture frequently. She’s not.
I began talking myself into reaching out to her, but what on earth would I say? Was that the right thing? Who was I reaching for—me and my own curiosity? Or Hope? Was this contact in our immediate best interest? What if the contact was completely rejected? What if the contact prompted a lot of expectations?
The what ifs are endless.
I eventually discussed it with my therapist. She asked a lot of questions, a lot, over a couple of sessions. She convinced me to put the brakes on things. She also asked me to broach the subject with Hope and AbsurdlyHotTherapist.
I sat with it for a couple of weeks, worried about Hope’s reaction.
During a game of 20 questions I asked Hope how she would feel if I found her birth mother. She grimaced, and said very little. I let it go for a couple of weeks. I circled back around and reminded her of our conversations about finding her and how she reacted to the possibility of finding her. I told her I had found her, that I knew where she was and knew how to contact her. Hope thought quietly and said, “That’s ok, I don’t want to.”
And so, I dropped it. The file is away on the hard drive and the papers are in the box. I sense that we’ll revisit it when she’s ready. I’ll be with her every step of the way.
I would be lying if I didn’t say I thought of her birth mother often. I still have all of these questions. I still want to know if there are baby pictures, what Hope was like as an infant. I have a deep desire for answers about our daughter’s life. And I want to know about this woman who gave Hope life. I just want to know more about her, since she’s just such a mystery to me and to Hope.
But that’s all for another day. I may find out, I may never know. I’m not even sure I’m happy I found her since it feels like she’s kind of off limits. She’s like money burning a hole in my pocket, I want to spend by asking a million questions. But it really…all this curiosity is for another day.
I know that, for now, the status quo is what Hope needs to feel safe and secure. I don’t know what is behind her birth mother’s door, and I have to trust that Hope’s memories and stories are what they are. More than anything I want to support my daughter and her continued healing and development, and right now, it seems that she wants me and just me.
So, curiosity won’t be killing me this time.