I have always known that I was adopted. I must have been fairly young when I was told because I don’t remember the conversation at all. I do recall asking about my birthmother at various times throughout my childhood. I was always told that she wanted me to have a more stable home life than what she could provide. My adoptive mom would always end our talk pretty quickly with “But you don’t want to know her, do you?” Because my adoptive dad had died of a heart attack when I was six years old, I felt the need to protect my mom from any further hurt. So, when asked this question, I always answered “no”. But deep down, I knew that I was very curious about this woman who gave me life. Did I look like her? Why did she give me up? Did she ever think about me? The questions I had as a child, and still have today, are many. And knowing that I will most likely never get the answers that I so desperately want is very disappointing and frustrating.
As a child, I felt ashamed of being adopted so I didn’t tell my friends. Unfortunately, this left me feeling very alone and disconnected. I also felt different from my peers. They knew where they were born – I didn’t. They looked like their siblings and/or parents – I didn’t. They had photo albums filled with pictures of them as babies – I didn’t. During my teenage years, I didn’t think too much about being adopted. It wasn’t until I was in college that I even had friends that were also adopted. We shared about our feelings and emotions and I finally felt heard and understood. After I graduated from college, I began to experience a strong desire to know more about my adoption.
The felt need to protect my mom from any hurt was still there, so I chose to do some investigating on my own. I contacted the agency that handled my adoption and they were only allowed to give me my non-identifying information. I was ecstatic to find out anything about how my life began. In some ways, the information validated me as a person. Even though it was a small piece of my puzzle, I was grateful.
Reading it now, twenty-five years later, I find it quite boring, generic and impersonal. It also is rather humorous to read that my birthparents were intelligent and attractive…as if they would describe them any other way! I did find out in this non-identifying information that I had two half-sisters. This news caused me to have some conflicting feelings and emotions. I had always wanted a sister – now I have two! But then the reality that we would probably never meet sunk in and I experienced yet another loss on this journey.
I also found out that my birthmother was adopted.
I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that she would give me up, knowing how much pain it would cause me, since she herself surely wrestled with the same issues and fears that I did. I now realize that because her adoption experience might have been very positive, perhaps she wanted the same for me.
Around this same time, I met my husband. We dated off and on for a couple of years before we got married. Even though I knew he was the one God had chosen for me, my fear of rejection, my lack of trust, and my insecurities caused me to push him away whenever he got too close. Thankfully, he was patient and he didn’t give up on me and we are celebrating twenty-four years of marriage this year.
I’ll never forget when our first daughter was born. Words cannot describe how it felt to hold this tiny baby. Finally, I was truly connected to someone…flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone. Three years later, we had another daughter and God continues to heal my heart when people say that she truly is my “mini me.”
I live in a state where the adoption records are sealed, the laws have changed over the years, but we still have a long way to go. I believe that secrecy is never a positive thing. It is never in someone’s best interest to keep the truth about them from them. As adoptees, we have a right to know our origin. Those of us who choose to search for our birthparents are searching for our identity – not to replace the one we have, but to fill in the pieces to the puzzle of our lives. I decided to do this almost two years ago, and even though I did not get the results I hoped for, I don’t regret my decision.
The agency found my birthmother, but unfortunately, she chose not to have any contact with me – no exchanging of letters, no possibility of meeting, nothing. I was devastated, crushed, heartbroken, and confused. I couldn’t understand how she could reject me again. Why wouldn’t she want to know who I was or what I looked like or how I was doing? This was yet another loss for me and one that I needed to allow myself to grieve. Eventually, God helped me see that her decision was not about me – she had her own issues to deal with.
I needed to let God put the pieces of my heart back together again. I began to pray for her because I knew she was most likely dealing with shame and loneliness, especially if she had not told her husband or children about me. I still hold onto hope that one day she will change her mind and give me the opportunity to meet her and my half-sisters. But, until then, I choose to trust in God’s timing and in His perfect plan for my life. On my darkest days, I cling to these truths: He created me, He knows me the best, He chose me, I am His beloved daughter, and He will never leave me or forsake me.
Jeanna Evans lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, where she works as a preschool teacher. She and her husband, Jonathan, have two daughters, who are both in college. She enjoys spending her free time reading, coloring and getting together with friends. The beach is her “happy place” and she loves to travel. Throughout her life she has held onto the promises found in Jeremiah 29:11 - “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” She believes that adoption truly is part of God’s plan for her life.