Patrick, adopted adult, finds his family in the US
Patrick has very clear memories of the difficult and sad times surrounding his adoption. He was four years old and living in a children’s home where he remembers, among other things, being strapped into a highchair which left him with delayed mobility. His was a two-year process and, during those two years, he was allowed to spend time with the couple who wanted to adopt him, even going to stay with them for the weekend. He also remembers seeing his birth mother with an American GI and while he does not really remember his birth mother, the image of the GI stuck in his memory. He was finally adopted and his birth mother and the GI moved to America.
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Patrick says that he had an amazing life with his adopted family but still in the back of his mind he always wanted to know more about his birth family. He asked his adopted parents and, while they were open about it, they had very little information to share with him. When his adopted mum passed away, Patrick began to seek more answers. He went to his local council for advice and support and met a post adoption support worker who did some investigating into his early life. She found a letter from his birth mother and letters that his adoptive mother had sent to his birth mother that the office had kept on file. After more research by the social worker, as well as privately by Patrick himself, he discovered that his birth mother had married the GI and that he had siblings.
The reality of tracing birth family
Unfortunately, Patrick’s story is not altogether a positive one. His birth mother had a history of alcohol dependency and his birth sister had similar difficulties, with his birth mother eventually deceased because of an altercation whilst living in America. However, one of Patrick’s brothers came to England and Patrick and his wife have been to America. Patrick recalls that this trip was difficult and he felt overwhelmed. He sensed that family members did not necessarily want to meet him because of who he was, but more because of what he could do for them as they began to ask him to lend them money.
With the support of his social worker he has worked through the anxiety and stress that his experiences caused, and the pressure he felt from his birth family. He has made the decision to put some distance between them now and only responds to letters and phone calls when he feels able.
Reflecting on his experiences, Patrick says he is glad he knows more about his family; he knows that he looks like his father; he knows that various illness, character traits and other issues that he has are hereditary although he does battle with himself about whether he should have done it. He has developed an understanding about his birth mother; he knows that she had a chaotic upbringing herself and that is what led to him being adopted. He still has feelings of rejection but they are now tempered by that understanding.