My brother-in-law was adopted in Texas in 1966*. For the past several years, we’ve had candid conversations about the impact of not knowing who his birth parents are and how he longs to see someone he looks like.
In 2011, with my brother-in-law’s permission, I contacted the adoption agency he was adopted from in Texas and got the paperwork for him to complete to start the process of finding his birth parents.
The only thing he knows is that his mom and dad were 18 and 19 years old. That information alone speaks volumes about what must have been going on in their lives. It was the time of the Vietnam War. It was before Roe v. Wade, and birth control was uncommon. It was at a time teenage pregnancy was seriously frowned upon. Young pregnant girls were commonly sent to maternity homes where they surrendered their newborns at birth. Only then could they join their families and society.
In October of 2015, four years later, he completed the forms. The uncertainty and possible deeper pain of knowing that there may never be a chance of connecting with his birth parents was too much to bear, so it took time.
In this time, he married my sister and now is even more aware how this emptiness inside of him impacts his own longing and fear to have children.
I sent in the forms and for some unknown reason they got lost in the mail. The contact at Catholic Charities would understandably only speak to him so I’ve had to let go and leave this quest in my brother-in-law’s hands. He has to do the legwork and call, leave messages and call back when they don’t return his calls.
This morning in my meditation practice, my attention went directly to this situation. Within minutes I had planned my text to my brother-in-law about continuing to reach out and not giving up. I had devised a plan in which I would take him to Texas myself and find his parents. I had planned my Google searches, “How to find a private investigator in Texas to find birth parents.” I recited the message I was going to leave on this woman’s voicemail about the incomprehensible inconsideration of not calling back a man trying to find his birth parents. How in the world?
This flutter of activity happened within minutes and my mind was perfectly happy devising a plan and making myself feel better.
So what was actually happening in my planning and strategizing? Well, I was distracting myself from the sadness that I feel for my brother-in-law and his birth parents. I was trying to make myself feel better. I know the sadness is tremendously deep for him. From what I understand, the trauma of what happened to these young women still haunts them today. The emptiness is carried in the mother and child.
In all of my well-intended efforts to make this pain go away for him, I realized in my morning meditation practice today that really the best thing to do was open to the sadness for this sweet and loving human being and hold his pain tenderly and with compassion in my heart. I need to trust that this is his journey, not mine.
And so with the greatest love and respect for him, I offer up to the universe that if it’s meant to be for him to reunite with his birth parents, it will happen. I trust that the emptiness and longing will inspire him to keep calling, keep leaving messages and get on an airplane with his sister-in-law to Texas, if he so wishes.
* I obtained my brother-in-law’s consent before sharing his story.