I'm currently at an altitude of 36,608 feet, and am flying at 475 miles per hour from the East Coast back to Seattle. This past weekend, I journeyed to Pittsburgh to speak at an event for foster and adoptive families. I delivered a keynote speech, which included a short video from a recent conversation my birthmom and I had. The video clip is quite emotional - the quote vulnerability begets vulnerability is on full display as my birthmom and I seek to know each other better through a series of difficult questions. I choose to share the very personal clip because it helps demonstrate that while being in an open adoption relationship is an experience that assists adoptees to fill in those holes in their lives and has the potential to support positive identity development, that challenges remain baked in to the relationship building experience.
Sitting in the front row at the event was my dear friend, Emily. She also serves in an Executive Assistant role for me, for which a duty includes being a source of emotional support during events such as these. Emily is a transracial adoptee, adopted from Korea and raised in Nebraska. She and I connected a few years ago after I read one of her blogs about her quest to find her birth family (you can find it here). She wrote:
Reading Emily's words pierced through me, as although being in reunion hasn't been easy, I realize that at least I had the great fortune to even work to develop a relationship!
Emily and her husband hosted me for the remainder of the weekend, taking me to all of the best food spots in Pittsburgh and introducing me to the most delicious London Fog I've ever tasted (#BiddlesEscape). We spent time discussing the event. While debriefing, Emily shared how emotional she felt while watching the video clip of the conversation with my birthmother. She emoted about how she longed for an experience like that some day. She shared that she didn't allow herself to cry at the time because she was due to speak after me on a panel and had to "keep her composure."
Emily is not just a good friend who is also a transracial adoptee. She is a transracial adoptee, a good friend, and one for whom a relationship with her biological family has been elusive. Knowing that she wants what I have (a relationship with my biological family) does not prohibit her from speaking honestly with me about the emotions it stirs up when hearing me talk. Nor does it prohibit me from speaking about the difficulties that are present for me while I navigate building relationships.
I feel a deep sense of good fortune in the fact that I was able to find my birth parents out of the sea of 7 billion people on this earth. However, being in a reunion doesn't quite feel like good fortune as so many aspects cause anxiety, questioning and sadness. I'm thankful to explore this with someone like Emily who understands this paradoxical conundrum. Still hopeful that she's able to find her Omma someday.