Tuesday, August 01, 2006

First contact

I've been meaning to post for several weeks about the birth family search we've been doing for The Boy. I've had an overwhelming desire since we first met TB at the orphanage to let the birthmother know that he was ok. And, to find out more of his "story."

Over a year ago we hired a man (Tony) in Russia that does birth family searches. He's been amazing. And finally, we have some answers, although not all that we would like.

Tony and his team have not been able to make contact with the BM, but they did meet and talk with her father (TB's birth grandfather) Aleksei. A few weeks ago we received a written report of this meeting and pictures of Aleksei, the birth mother (Tatiana) and other family members. We also found out that Tatiana is married and has a daughter (TB's half sister).

It took a while to hit me as I was reading the report that Tatiana's daughter, was in fact, TB's sister. We assume half sister, because we have no information yet about the biological father.

We initially thought that Aleksei didn't know about TB, so we were concerned that we would be creating problems for Tatiana. Fortunatley, Tony's team is very experienced with this and was able to find out that he did indeed know that his daughter had a child that she placed for adoption.

It was very exciting to receive this information, although it still felt somewhat empty, sterile perhaps, as there was no real emotion in the report. Well, last week we received a copy fo the video that was taken when they met Aleksei and conducted the interview. Although it is in Russian I can see and hear the emotion in his voice. I watched him read the letter we wrote to Tatiana and I saw the tears. I can also tell at the end of the interview that he sent TB, Amazing Daddy and myself a special, heart felt message.

This Friday, a close friend of mine who is Russian, will sit with me and translate the video for me. I'm so excited! But, it opens up a lot of questions for me.

Until now, we have danced around the terminology related to the birth family. I'm just not comfortable yet saying "birth mother." In fact, I'm not comfortable with any term that uses "mother" in it. When possible, I refer to her as Tatiana, but I can only do that when it's with someone who knows who I am referring to. Sometimes I try "Russian family" or Russian relatives" when referring to the family in general. But even saying "Russian grandfather" seems like a betrayal to my family, TB's "real" family.

TB isn't yet at an age that he understands any of this, and because of that I haven't shared any of this with him. He knows he was born in Russia, and we talk about and read stories about adoption, but he doesn't grasp any of the concepts yet. I had thought that if I got pregnant that would be a natural opportunity to go in to all of this, but I don't know that that will really happen.

I know this isn't in the immediate future, but I should think sometime in the next year or so something will click with TB and he might start to question. I need to have a term by then that I am comfortable with. I thought perhaps "birth woman", but that seems so cumbersome.

I don't consider Tatiana TB's mother in any sense but biological. Until we make that contact, and I hear her story, I'm not sure how to feel. I can't discount her feelings, because all I can do is think how I would feel if I had been in her shoes. What a devastating situation to be in. Or was it? The adoption facilitators in Russia told us over and over not to think too much about her. That we were silly to want to let her know TB was ok, that it was not necessary, and was discouraged.

In a way I'm threatened by her, I know that, but I also know it's silly. I'm TB's Mommy, I'm the one who kisses his booboo's, puts him to sleep at night, snuggles on the couch with him as we watch Caillou. I'm the one who taught him how to hug and cuddle. I'm the one who taught him he could trust someone in his world. The only thing I couldn't do was give birth to him, or reach him sooner than six months. I will always regret that I missed that part of his life.

I should say, that some of these thoughts have come up because of a blog I read last night Thin Pink Line. Manuela talks of her birth family and adoptive family, and what it was like to find out she was adopted at 25 years old. Her incredible story brought up a lot of confusing feelings inside me, and opened questions that I don't' think I would have ever thought about.

More thoughts on this in the near future.

*Thanks for the kind comments Manuela, Celeste and A. It is so meaningful to me to have someone read my words, and not think I'm awful for feelings the way I do.


  1. I am trying to have that conversation in my head, which gets prompted by "where did I come from?" if we were ever to adopt or move into DI. I thought the easy way out was not letting my child know anything other than they are my child. But what would happen if there was an illness? Or if he/she found out somehow when they became an adult. I don't know which side of the coin would be worse. Because that's how I look at it: which is the worse case scenerio, when I know I should ask myself what is the best?

    You said it very well in a comment earlier on Another Child: It's all fucked.

  2. I think if you are uncomfortable with using the term mother, you could just use her first name. With my daughter, we use the term birthmother. I don't really like it, not because of the mother part, but because of the birth part. To me, it indicates that her only connection to her is that she gave birth to her, when really she shares all of her genetic material. I think biological mother is a much more accurate term.

    I know it is hard not to be intimidated by the woman who gave birth to your child. But remember, you are his mother and he will understand that as he grows. He will always have a connection to his blood relatives in Russia, but his family will be with you. We all have a great capacity to let a large number of people into our hearts.

    DD, if you do adopt, please do not keep it a secret from your child. They will be your child, whether they know they are adopted or not. My daughter was 9 when she was adopted and yet she knows that I am her mother. The knowledge that she is not biologically mine does not dampen my love for her or her love for me. But if she were to find out that I had deceived her all her life..that I had denied her a part of her existence..who she is and where she came from..I imagine that it would be horribly hard.

    Adoption is never easy, but I always believe it is better to completely honest with your child. I know I would want someone to be completely honest with me. And I know that my daughter has the ability to understand adoption and biology and how families are made...much easier than I am.

    Sorry for all the assvice!

  3. Oh, honey... it's so tough to read the struggle in your words... you want so badly to do the right thing... and so often, in adoption... it seems like the 'right' thing is always the hardest thing.

    I don't know if this will help at all... but... would it help if you thought of your scenario a little differently. Thik of this...

    When I read this post from the standpoint of an adoptee... what I wonder is this. If your referring to your son's origins as 'family' feels like a betrayal to your family... will he not feel that his biological origins are something to hide and be ashamed of when he gets older?

    Please know I'm not asking this in anger... truly I"m not. I just know that for me... I had to get inside the head and heart of BOTH my mothers before I could start to let go of my own hurt, anger, and fear. I only wonder, if maybe trying that same thing with your son's perspective might help.

    I have such admiration for your love of your son... and TOTALLY understand how scary this must seem

    Sending you much affection

  4. I think the very fact that you are asking all these questions and seeking information is a good thing. You very obvioulsy love your son and you will find a way for all of you to be at peace with this.

    I have a lot of birthmother/father fears too when I think of adoption. I worry about how to give the child what he or she needs, how to know what that is.