Friday, July 30, 2010

Birth family search

Each of our children has their own unique story of how their life in our family came to be. Learning as much as we can about each of their backgrounds and lives before we entered them has become very important to Sara and I. The day may come where they have questions and we are striving to have as many answers as we can.

Parker is unique in our family, as he has memories of his childhood that he will hopefully never let go. Early on during his time with us he would reflect on his life and experiences in Ethiopia and express to us that he missed his brother Abdi. Sadly, those conversations have slowly dissipated and it pains me greatly to think that he may be ever so slowly losing those memories.

When asked what he would like for us to bring him home from our most recent trip to Ethiopia, after pondering for a moment, he responded with “a picture of Abdi.” It was a gut wrenching answer to say the least. He chose the one thing that I would like more than any other to bring to him, but also the one thing that I didn't know how to find.

He used to ask me why Abdi couldn’t come to America. Why couldn’t we adopt Abdi. Once Park began speaking English and we started to learn more about where he came from we yearned to learn more. We wanted to be able to tell him the story behind how he ended up in our home. That’s easier said than done, but we will try. We owe it to him to attempt to find out how this life with us came to be.

Lleyton’s story is something we have always wanted to know as well. Just like Parker and Addy, we want to be able to share with him the details of his life in Russia and, if possible, the story of his mother. After a bit of research and noticing emails on a Yahoo group that we are a member of about birth family searches in Russia we decided to seriously contemplate searching for Lleyton’s mother. Our decision to follow through with the search was not something that we took lightly. As much as we would like to have the information for Lleyton, we knew that there was a woman out there that had to go through the very difficult process of making the decision to relinquish her rights to parent Lleyton and place him in the care of an orphanage. If the search was successful, how would she react? How would the memories of that day affect her? We did not want to cause her any undo pain.

After much thought and discussion, we elected to employ the services of a very nice woman in Russia, who we now consider a friend, and she was successful in her task of locating his mother. Thinking back to the email that I received saying that she had found his mother causes my stomach to feel like it is in knots. I was scared to read it. How had the meeting gone? Had we made the right choice?

We had come up with quite a list of questions for Lleyton’s mother that ranged from details on her family history, what her favorite food is, what the weather was like the day he was born, does she have any other children, any details on his father, to what she would like Lleyton to know about her.

Looking back, all of the stress that went along with making the decision was warranted, because we didn’t know how she would react, but after following through with it, we couldn’t be more pleased. From the very detailed account we have of the meeting, Lleyton’s mother, after coming to terms with seeing his picture and finding out of about him, was grateful that we cared so much about her story and went to such lengths to find her so that we could share her story with him. We now have answers, we have pictures of her and her family, we have pictures of the hospital where he was born, and we have details and a picture of his father.

It’s difficult to articulate the emotions that I feel each time I read the letter detailing the meeting that our friend, Svetlana, had with Lleyton’s mother and grandmother. I feel those same emotions when I look at the number of pictures that we have of her, her family, the apartment building she lives in, the hospital, and the picture of his dad. As I told her in a letter that I wrote back to her after she graciously welcomed our friend into her home and answered our questions, her most difficult decision to not parent Lleyton allowed us into his life and granted us the dream of becoming parents, and we are forever grateful to her for that.

Ultimately, our decision to do this search came down to wanting to provide Lleyton with as much information as we can when, and if, he wants it. These searches may not be for every adoptive family, but we are certainly glad we did it.

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