I have always known that I was adopted as an infant. Same with my three younger brothers. Before we could truly grasp what it meant to be “adopted”, we knew we had been adopted. Most days I didn’t think about it at all. It was just a part of who I am. An accepted part.
From a very early age—as long as I can remember really—I concluded that whoever gave birth to me couldn’t take care of me so she, and possibly the he as well, gave me to someone who could take care of me. And I was okay with that.
While I’d always been curious as to the details surrounding my birth and the
With the help of an archived newspaper article containing the brief details concerning my “foundling” status and a quick Facebook search, I discovered a granddaughter of the couple who found me that mid-November morning in 1963. She’d been eight-year-old at the time and seemed to remember the incident as if it had happened yesterday. Her barely-contained excitement as we spoke on the phone was genuine and refreshing as she shared details not included in the short, three paragraph write up.
As I contemplated embarking on a journey to find my birth parents, I was keenly aware of how a search for answers could impact those on the other side of the adoption story. I was certain I would be okay with whatever the quest would uncover. I wasn’t looking to fill a hole in my life because there was no hole to fill. I’d been blessed with wonderful parents and a happy childhood, had grown into a responsible adult, and I felt prepared for whatever a search might reveal. Yet I was keenly aware that those involved in that long-ago decision might feel anything but excitement when greeted with reminders of the past.
Still, I longed for answers. I’d always, always wondered who I looked like. My birth-mom, birth-dad, a grandparent? Aunt or uncle? A sibling? Maybe even a sister . . .
My entire life, I sooooooo wanted a sister. What if I had a sister out there somewhere? What if she looked like me? A half-sister even. How incredibly cool would that be?
I felt the need to examine my motives. Why did I want to do this? What was I hoping to gain? Other than to satisfy even a little of my raging curiosity, I immediately knew I wanted to ease the mind of those involved in what had to be a gut-wrenching decision. “You did what you felt you had to do and everything turned out fine,” I’d say if I got the chance. “I want you to know my story had a happy ending.”
Then I’d want to know, “But what about yours? How have you been since then? Did you spend years worrying about me or regretting the decision?” I hoped that wouldn’t be the case. I really hoped her life and his life too had turned out well. I also hoped I wasn’t beginning the search too late.
So I decided to forge ahead by submitting a DNA sample for testing. As I waited for the results, I found myself wondering more and more about the life realities and circumstances that would have urged someone to abandon an infant. I’d never been sad for me and my situation, but suddenly, I was very sad for the person(s) who felt their only option was to leave a three-day-old baby on a door step and walk away.
The decision made long ago to wrap me in a man’s black wool shirt and place me at the back door of a residence impacted every day of the rest of my life, as it did every moment thereafter of my birth parents lives.
In a similar way, my efforts to dig into the past would have lasting effects on me and who knows how many others. I realized that as much as I wanted to know the facts, others might long just as strongly to keep those details hidden. I determined to be as sensitive and kind and understanding as possible to whomever I encountered, regardless of their reaction or response to me or my situation.
As I waited for the DNA results, this intensely profound reality consumed my mind: not everyone who can father or give birth to a child is equipped to care for and nurture that child. It’s just that simple. Yet it’s anything but simple.
Read Part 2 of Beth’s Story on Friday, April 21.
ABOUT BETH STEURY
When not engrossed in her adoption search, Beth works on her soon-to-be-released young adult (YA) novel series, immerses herself in the YA world via substitute teaching, connecting with the teenage staff at the fast food joint where she claims the back booth as her office, and reading YA fiction. She’s excited about incorporating adoption issues into upcoming writing projects.