Why Open Adoption? Part III: My Daughter Meets Her Birthmother

After searching for eleven and a half years, I have finally found my daughter’s birthmother. Sobbing I call my husband to tell him the news. We agree to wait until after the piano recital to tell our daughter. Driving her to the recital, I struggle to listen and talk about the upcoming performance. It is hard to keep such momentous information from her even for a couple of hours.

Finally, we return home. I tell her what happened, that I have met her birthmother. She starts to cry and grabs me half hugging and half dancing around the living room. What does she look like? I show her a photo on my phone. She gasps, “She is so beautiful!” My daughter smiles as she realizes that her birthmother is her mirror image. “I want to meet her,” she anxiously says.

“You will,” I assure her, but again events intervene. Three months will pass before we finally meet in person. During that time, I struggle with what this means for me, for my husband, for our daughter, and for her birthmother. I am relieved that the answers to my daughter’s questions are so close, but I am afraid she might be disappointed or hurt. Surprisingly, the one thing I do not feel is threatened. I am not worried that my place in my daughter’s heart will be gone. I know that is not possible. I also know that her heart has always had a place for her birthmother, and that until this point it has been achingly empty.

Finally, the day arrives when the three of us are to meet. My daughter is nervous, so nervous. We arrive early, and then spend fifteen agonizing minutes waiting for her birthmother to arrive. She steps out of the car and approaches my daughter offering her hand to shake. I can tell she is trying to be careful not to intrude on anyone’s boundaries—mine or her birth daughter’s. My daughter takes her hand and looks into her eyes, and for the first time in her life, my daughter sees her face reflected back at her.

Her birthmother tells her she loves her and always has. She tells her about her birthfather, and then she tells my daughter why she placed her for adoption. I can see my daughter visibly lighten, later she will tell me, “It all makes sense now. She made the right decision. I understand she placed me for adoption because she loved me.” I smile.

Perhaps the most startling news, however, is the revelation that my daughter is not Persian at all. Her birthmother confused explains to my daughter her true racial and ethnic identity. My daughter shakes her head, “Okay. I guess most people don’t get to change their entire race and ethnic background when they are twelve,” but I can tell she is relieved to know the truth. CONTINUE TO PART 4.

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