Abuse is not okay. As I listened to my guest, Desiree Moore, share her story, saying, “I’m sorry” didn’t feel like enough. Adopted at the age of three, she suffered at the hands of those who were supposed to be her protector. She wanted to escape but didn’t dare speak up. Foster care entered into her story at the age of seventeen as a welcomed relief. Throughout her journey, though, she longed to meet her biological mother. Years spent fantasizing about her and what that relationship would be like left her feeling confused and disappointed when the time finally did come for them to meet. I was so proud of Desiree for sharing, and I know that what she learned in meeting her mom will help us too.
HERE ARE MY 3 TAKEAWAYS FROM OUR CONVERSATION:
1. Fear can hinder children from speaking up about abuse.
Desiree knew that something was different about her life. Though she was adopted by her aunt and uncle at age three, she discovered she wasn’t their biological child at age six. In the home of her adoptive parents, both sexual and physical abuse occurred, and she longed for a way out. It only made her dream about her mother more. She knew what her adoptive parents were doing was wrong, and she wanted to get herself and her sisters out of harm’s way, but she believed the lies that she was told. She feared that speaking up would result in more harm, ultimately leading to her separation from her sisters. This was not a risk she wanted to take, so she endured the pain. I can’t imagine what it was like to be put in that position—of enduring pain so that my siblings and I could remain together, of feeling like there was no way out.
“I was always nervous of sharing; like, what would happen to my sisters?”
When Desiree finally confided the abuse to a friend and, in turn, a counselor, she was able to escape her abusive home at age seventeen. As the youngest sibling, she knew her older sisters would be okay at that point. Foster care was a welcomed relief, and yet she still had a burning desire to meet her mother. By this point, Desiree had built up an ideal picture of her mother. She wanted to see herself in someone else and dreamed of the day where she would look into her mother’s eyes. In a chance meeting, her sister discovered she was sitting across from her mom on the train. Desiree and her mom connected shortly thereafter. But, those first few meetings were not as she expected. Disappointment set in as she realized she and her mother were not the instant dynamic mother-daughter duo she thought they would be. Desiree didn’t consider that this relationship, like all relationships, would take time to grow and build.
“We have this idea that as soon as we meet our biological parents, it’s going to be like mother-daughter best friends, but that’s really not the case. Those relationships take time.”
3. To the adoptive parent and adoptee, walk the journey of meeting biological parents together.
I so appreciated Desiree’s advice to us as adoptive parents who have children longing to meet or know more about their biological parents and for other youth and adults who have that desire but don’t know what to do about it. Here’s what she shared:
To adoptive and foster parents who have children longing to meet their biological parents:
- Just because your child is curious to meet their biological parents, it doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong.
- Join them in the conversation and show them your support as you walk this road together. This is precisely when they need you the most.
To youth or adults longing to meet your biological parents, before you start the search or reach out:
- Build a support system. Don’t walk this journey alone. You need a team as a steady base. Some times, we discredit the people we already have in our lives. Allow the people in your life who love you into this part of your journey too.
- Take off false expectations. Things take time. You may not instantly connect with your biological parents. They may feel like strangers, even. Your emotions may be all over the place, and that’s normal.
“As a child who has been adopted, we’re overwhelmed. We’re trying to figure out this stranger and how they fit in our lives. Sometimes visiting a birth parent can be exciting, and sometimes it can be disappointing. There are just so many different emotions that you need your support system to be ready to support you.”
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