Thursday, July 26, 2007

phil: Scary Steps

As I'm waiting for the next contact with my birth mother (having read and reread the letter I received Saturday), I thought I'd do a little of the catch-up work.

There were a lot of scary moments during the last few months. Contacting Catholic Charities was a big hurdle. I don't like the phone much, so calling people I don't know, to start something I'm nervous about, is not the easiest thing in the world to do. And committing to the search itself was more than a little unnerving.

I think what helped me through all of that was that I didn't realize how much this was going to affect me at the time. I approached the whole process with a rather academic, even clinical, attitude. It was something I was going to do. But if it didn't work, as I assumed it wouldn't, then I can say I tried and got nowhere.

At some point, all of that changed. The whole process, for me, didn't really kick into gear until the beginnig of May. Most of April was spent getting ahold of Catholic Charities and figuring out the process and what to do next. But at the beginning of May, or thereabouts, I sent in my request.

Shortly after that, I began to do some more research online about searching. And I began to realize that this was a lot more important to me than I had expected it to be. It began, I had told myself, as a search for medical information. (I'm really, really good at lying to myself, it turns out.) It became a lot more.

I know, from talking with others and reading, that it's common for adoptees to feel somewhat out of place, disconnected. And I've felt that my whole life. My family loves me and accepts me without question. Even so, with my peers, I felt like an oddball. I mean, I know I'm odd. But there were times in my life when I felt like I didn't know who I was and that I didn't fit in. (I guess I still feel like that now, at least some of the time.)

This search became a search for who I was. It wasn't a search for a new family. But a search to try to find some answers to questions I've had my entire life. And it became a lot more important to me. I needed some closure. And I was afraid that if the search failed, it would be worse than if I hadn't started it.

I wonder about that now. Now that I've begun to find a few answers, and that the search seems to be successful, would it have been worse to try and fail than to not have tried at all? I don't know. I've never thought that "better to have loved and lost..." made any sense. Having lost a lot, that sure seemed to hurt pretty badly.

I don't think it was a fear of being rejected again. I mean, I knew, intellectually at least, that there were lots of good reasons my birth mother might have had to not want contact. I hoped it didn't happen. Being rejected would have sucked. But the loss of a chance to find some answers, to find something, seemed really bad.

So far, though, the scariest part of the search so far has been telling my family about it. This, also, seems to be pretty common. Here, the worry, in part, was alienating my parents. The other part was hurting them. Whether related to my adoption or other events in my life, I've always seemed to have a fear of being abandoned. And I was worried that I would both hurt my parents and make them leave if they found out about my search.

I should have given my parents more credit. My mom was happy for me. And my dad also seemed to understand. Neither of them were upset with me. And they have both been great. It was still frightening at the time. But I was glad I told them. I guess I felt as though they had a right to know. And I don't like keeping things from them.

So far, I think I've been pretty lucky. My search has gone quickly and about as well as I had any right to hope. I know others don't have this good of an experience.

Okay, this is much longer than I expected. I will stop now. More later.

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