Sunday, November 21, 2010

Birth Parents

"Everybody has got them."

That was Mike's response to the question, "What do you think about birth parents?" It was part of our home study questionnaire.

Mike understands the confusing, awkward and painful feelings of children who grow up separated from their birth parents. Mike's birth father separated from his mother when he still a baby and Mike never had any contact with him during his growing years.

Several times, he met his paternal grandparents and they came to his high school graduation. It wasn't until we got married and Tyler was born that Mike really began to get to know his birth father's family. We used to travel to visit them a few times a year and went to a couple Christmas celebrations. But Mike's birth father lived out of the state and was never there.

When Mike's paternal grandmother passed away shortly after Tony was born, Mike and his mom attended the funeral. Mike's birth father was there, but Mike was not interested in a meeting at that point. Afterwards, he wrote Mike a letter. It was the first one Mike had ever received from him. Mike kept the letter for a long time and even wrote a letter in response but I don't think he ever sent it. He was just beginning to get along better with his Dad and I think he felt it would be dishonoring to the man who raised him to try to foster a relationship with his birth father.

After Mike began managing and we moved to North Dakota, it became much more difficult to keep in touch with Mike's extended birth family and we had only seen his paternal grandpa once in the past five years even though he only live an 1 1/2 hr away from us. I think Mike always questioned how he fit into the family. There came a point when I quit sending them Christmas cards because it had been so long since we had seen them or visited. It wasn't until last year that we talked about it and he had assumed I had just kept sending them. Ooops! Needless to say his grandpa got one last year. We also sent them to his aunts and uncles on that side.

This summer was his 80th birthday party. We made plans to go but the little girls caught a stomach bug and we couldn't go. And then last Thursday, Mike's aunt called to let us know that his grandpa had passed away on Monday. Mike let me know that it was important to him that we all should go to the funeral on Saturday. Despite the obvious challenges and potential chaos, we all piled in the van on Saturday and went to say good bye.

It went really well. The girls did fine during the travel and were pretty good during the service. Mike's aunts and uncle were so nice and thankful to see us. One of them (Hi LeAnn!) reads our blog and so it was very easy to connect with her. We were invited to come in with the family during the service but were already seated in the sanctuary and it's quite a production to get our family moved. It was nice to be invited. Mike and I were both curious which man was his birth father as the family came in, but we couldn't pinpoint him and had to ask Mike's aunt afterwards. She told him we were up for meeting him and he approached us while we were waiting to eat.

It was a brief encounter. Pleasantries, introductions and condolences were shared and then we went our separate ways. I felt bad. I wondered if I should have engaged him in more conversation but I was a bit distracted by the hungry vultures circling at my feet.

After we ate we visited briefly with Mike's uncle. They also have an adopted son who is about Tyler's age and a post infertility miracle baby. It woud be nice to stay connected to their family. They seemed to have done a wonderful job navigating the uncertain waters of cross-cultural adoption.

One thing is for certain, when Amanda and Christiana are wondering about their birth parents, Mike will be able to relate with their desire to meet them and know who they are. I pray they have that opportunity to meet at least part of their birth family and bring some closure to the loss they have experienced.

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