When the Gift is Waiting Inside the Fold

Daughter #1 has been home for nearly 11 years and I never even looked at her adoption paperwork until the other day.

Let me explain. Her adoption took 4 years to complete. When we brought her home, I finally had the REAL thing. I didn’t need to look through paperwork written in a language I couldn’t read. So I didn’t.

But I had started filling out forms G-884 and G-639 requesting the return of our daughters’ adoption files from the Department of Homeland Security. I opened Daughter #1’s dossier for the first time. And there, buried along an inside fold, I saw it.

A photo of her birth mother.

All these years I honestly thought I had nothing to offer her.  Daughter #2 has a photo of her birth mother, but Daughter #1 has had nothing.  Until last week.

“How’s it make you feel seeing that picture?” I asked after we showed it to her.

“It was ok. I don’t feel like talking about it now.”

I get it. She’s processing, and it’ll take a long time for her to sort out her feelings.  Probably her whole life.

As an adolescent  begins to understand abstract concepts of values, morality, and self identity, it’s not uncommon for teenage adoptees to start to dig into their past and search for information about their birth families. As David Brodzinsky explains in Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self, “A search can help simplify the adolescent’s task of separating from the family. It gives the teenager something to separate from. Without knowing who the biological parents are, the adopted teenager sometimes gets the frustrated sense of pushing against a vacuum.”

And so we begin. For now, we have this photo copy of her birth mother’s government ID. A picture no more than 1.5 inches square. We’re opening the doors to search for more information on both daughters’ birth families. We’ve requested their paperwork from Homeland Security. We joined a sibling registry. It’s a long shot, we know.  We did some DNA testing. (Let me tell you that true love is when you listen to your teens spit into a test tube for 5 minutes.) Maybe one day we’ll hire someone to do a search in Guatemala.  Lord willing, we’ll go there again ourselves.

We’ll see where the trail leads. Where He leads.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.
Proverbs 16.3

It’s exciting. And scary. This mama bear wants to give my daughters what they want, what they need, but at the same time, protect them from any potentially harmful information. Or heartbreak. But I know that just as God leads us on this new journey, He’ll equip us for it as well.

So, we’ll take each step in faith and wait. This could take years. We invite you to stay tuned to see what God brings.

What about you? Is your teen digging for answers to his past? How are you supporting him? How do her questions about her birth family make you feel as a parent? Please leave your comments below.

*If you’re interested in doing your own DNA search, we recommend using services offered by 23 and me.