So glad to get a chance to talk to you a little bit, Meredith! Could you start by giving me a little background about yourself?
Well, I’m originally from a small town in Western Massachusetts. I moved to Northern Virginia in 2005 after college and have been here ever since. I have an event planning background and currently work part-time for a wedding venue and part-time as a preschool teacher aide.
I grew up always knowing I was adopted and have an older sister who is adopted as well. My parents are still married and just recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. I had a very good childhood and always considered being adopted to be one of the most unique things about me.
What is your relationship like with your adoptive parents? Were you pretty open with dialogue about adoption?
We didn’t talk much about my adoption honestly. They never said we couldn’t but I always got the impression that it was not a topic they felt comfortable with. As a natural people pleaser, I never brought it up or asked questions. Even to this day we don’t talk much about it as it continues to be a sensitive topic for them.
I certainly understand that- I still feel the need to tread lightly with my adoptive parents on the subject.
It’s so sad, really. The people I want to share the most with…and I can’t.
Have you ever searched for or had contact with any biological family?
About seven years ago I started looking and did happen to find my biological family and have been in reunion with them ever since. My birthmom and birthfather ended up getting married about five years after they had me and went on to have two more kids so I actually have a full blood brother and sister. And the real kicker – they lived seven miles from where I grew up my entire life!
That’s amazing that they were so close! How would you sum up your reunion experience thus far?
Emotional. Unexpected. It’s been a rollercoaster, that’s for sure. My siblings didn’t know about me and I rushed into everything very quickly. It’s been hard managing relationships with everyone and dealing with my adoptive parents who were not (and probably are still not) okay with all of this. We’ve come a long way since our first meeting but it’s still far from perfect. I’ve found that having a relationship with my birthmom has been the hardest.
Its genuinely the most difficult road to navigate. Especially when coupled with navigating your adoptive parent’s feelings as well.
It definitely feels like so many people have to take on that burden. Which seems a little unfair when we are the ones who didn’t have a choice in this and now have to deal with this new life!
I think that’s why many of us become insufferably people pleasing.
Very true. I don’t think my parents understand why I would want to know about my history and instead, choose to take it personally. But honestly, at the end of the day, my parents are the ones who raised me so that’s exactly how I see them – as my parents. My birth family is just an additional group of people to love us.
Would you do it all over again, you think?
If I didn’t have any answers by now, I’d still be searching and would want to know. I’m happy to have found all this family, especially full-blood siblings, so I’d like to say “no regrets” but the entire process has come with many feelings I never could have imagined. My life is for sure more complicated and emotional now.
I would at least make some changes if I were to do it again: taking my time with it, having a support system…things like that. At the time of my reunion, I didn’t have a support group or a therapist or any other adoptees to connect with. I jumped right in and met them after barely two months of talking online. And then when we met, I went directly to their house which was far too emotional. I suddenly met so much family- siblings, cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles. It was too much, too soon
What do you wish more people knew about the adoptee experience? And is there anything you wish more adoptive parents knew?
That’s a hard one! I wish people realized that adoption is something that affects us every single day. It’s not something that will ever go away. It’s something that is always on my mind and will always be a part of me. Regardless of whether we had a good upbringing or not, adoptees always have a right to know about their past. I can still be happy about my life and devastatingly heartbroken for my loss at the same time.
I wish adoptive parents would be more open to talking with their kids about adoption- mainly by initiating the conversation so their children know it’s ok to talk about it; being supportive of their past and being involved in the journey if that’s what the adoptee chooses.
What inspired you to start reaching out to other adoptees?
Wanting to feel “normal” and being around other people who understand me. I’ve always felt so out of place in all aspects of my life so to be around people who can truly relate to what I’m feeling…it’s priceless. Having a support group has been great for my wellbeing in general but to know that we’re also finally using our voices to share our stories means so much to me.
I feel like I’ve had to be quiet for so long to protect those around me. But in reality, by not sharing, I was only hurting myself. There’s so much secrecy around adoption and it’s freeing to finally feel like I can use my voice to talk about it.
How has Adoptees Connect, in particular, impacted your journey?
I have met some amazing people who I now consider friends. Adoptees Connect has given me an outlet to share myself as well as listen and learn from other people and their stories. It’s also given me courage to speak more freely about my journey in an effort to get others to understand us.
I’m a definite believer in the power of being able to tell your own story, especially outside of your own head.
I often still feel like saying “Is this really my life??!”
Our stories can be zany and surreal, for sure! And I thank you so much for sharing yours with us today, Meredith.
Lee Rolandi – Adoptees Connect, Inc. Writer/Editor/Publisher