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To Search or Not to Search – It’s Not My Choice

Growing up, I was (and still am) the kid who had to shake all of the presents under the tree. I just couldn’t wait for Christmas day. I was too excited to wait a week or two, and wanted to get to the good stuff right away. Which is how I’ve felt about reconnecting with my son’s birth mom for years. I can’t wait for her to see what an awesome, handsome, funny and loving man he’s grown to become. To share my joys with her.

Unfortunately for me, my son is also one of those guys who will get to things in his own good time. Drives me crazy! But he’s made the decision that at this stage of his life, in his mid-20s, he isn’t ready to search out and start up a relationship with his birth mother and half-siblings. He’s curious, but is fine with waiting until the time “feels right.”

What’s hard for me as the parent is to let him set the pace. But this isn’t about what I want, it’s about what is best for him. He’s an adult now, and much as it pains me as his mom, he’s able to make his own decisions. My job is to support him until he decides it’s time, if he ever does.

My job as his mom is to provide gentle guidance when I feel it’s appropriate, support his decisions even if I disagree, and be open to discussing his options.

So do I tell him that? How often should I tell him that he can search for his birth mother when he’s ready? I don’t want to drive him crazy reminding him that the agency and I are here whenever it’s time. I don’t want him to search because it’s what I want. Then again, I don’t want him to think I’m not open to it by not mentioning it at all. At one point in his childhood, he asked me to stop telling him his adoption story. He said he “knew it by heart.” Fast forward to the teenage years and it was, “Why didn’t you ever tell me about her?” Sometimes you just can’t win.

As parents, we just want what’s best for our children, no matter their age. Today, nearly every adoption professional agrees that it’s usually a good thing for adoptees to have a relationship with their birth family— when managed appropriately and with care. Unfortunately, for many adoptees, establishing or maintaining the connection isn’t always possible. In the case of my son, who was adopted domestically, we haven’t heard from his birth mother in many years. Now, as an adult, it has to be his choice whether to re-establish connections. He also knows that it has to be a mutual decision — both his and his birth mother’s choice.

My job as his mom is to provide gentle guidance when I feel it’s appropriate, support his decisions even if I disagree, and be open to discussing his options. I have faith that he will contact the agency one day and reach out to her, but on his schedule, not mine. In the meantime, I save up photos and memories that I hope one day to share with her – when he’s ready.

Deb Hanson | Former Holt Team Member

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