World Adoption DayIn celebration of the upcoming 1st ever World Adoption Day on November 9th, Doog News, as an Ambassador for this exciting event, has invited friends who are connected to adoption in a variety of different ways to submit writings about adoption. Between now and November 9th we're excited to post these stories to give some insight into what life is like when it involves adoption. We encourage you to follow along and read the various postings whether it's about a family who has adopted a child, to someone who was adopted, to the perspective of an adoption counsellor, and even a family who has decided to adopt and now waits and wonders if and when they'll be parents. In all of these stories there is one common factor: love. Please join us on this celebratory journey as we lead up to World Adoption Day.
Today’s adoption story comes from Rob Michaels who was adopted as an infant. Years later he decided to search for his birth family and he found them. Here is his story of meeting his birth family.
Meeting My Birth Family
Adoption. What can be someone’s most frightening decision can be another’s most amazing blessing. The one question I always get is “do you know your birth family?” Luckily over the years my answer to this question has changed and here’s how it happened.
I always knew I was adopted. Ever since I can remember, I’ve known. Sure there was a part of me that always wanted to know who was out there, but I didn’t think about it all the time. I grew up in a great household and my parents didn’t care whether we shared the same bloodline, they loved me all the same. I can remember sometimes walking through the malls or grocery stores, spotting someone who maybe looked a bit like me and questioned “hmm… I wonder if we’re related?” It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I decided to get on the internet and see how difficult it would be to find someone who might be related to me; and it wasn’t all that difficult.
From paperwork my parents shared with me, I knew that my birth parents were both young. I didn’t decide to search out my birth family because I wanted to know ‘why’ or anything like that. I didn’t care why, I was just curious to see if anyone was out there. A simple Google search revealed an adoption registry in the province of Ontario where I grew up and was adopted. I thought about it for a few days and decided to register with the little information I knew. My birthdate and birthplace. I never thought I would ever hear anything back and went on living my life until 5 quick months later when I got a letter in the mail. There was a match.
Yup, while I was at Wendy’s eating lunch with a friend and going through my mail, I opened a letter that said they found a match with my birth mother. I can’t begin to describe the different emotions I felt after reading the first line of the letter, “I’m pleased to inform you that the Adoption Disclosure Registry has matched you with your birth mother.” Feelings of excitement and fear filled my mind as I rushed home to tell my parents over the phone. It was a difficult phone call to make because I didn’t know how they would take it. They always said they would support me if I ever wanted to seek out my birth family, but I still struggled with how to bring it up to them. You see my adoptive parents are my parents; nothing less. I didn’t want them to think I was out searching for replacements. Thankfully they were excited.
I exchanged a letter with my birth mother before passing along any identifying information. I was nervous about revealing too much information. Cautiously nervous, but after I received that first letter from her, I knew I definitely wanted to meet her. The 2nd letter I sent contained more personal information about me including my name and phone number. I was really excited to share my full name with her. You see, she named me Michael and my adoptive parents wanted to honor her so they kept that as my middle name. She was also excited to know that I still have a stuffed bear that she bought and gave to me from the hospital gift shop the day I was born and the last day she saw me. While my birth mother was excited by the stories I was sharing, I was just as excited to hear I have 3 half siblings, a grandmother and a niece. In fact a few weeks after I sent her the 2nd letter, I got an email from one of my birth sisters and we chatted online all night. What an amazing experience. I had a whole family living 1 hour away from where I grew up. Heck, my adoptive cousin’s husband was a good friend with my birth family. How weird is that? For months letters, emails and pictures were exchanged, but then came the time to meet face to face and I’ve never been so nervous in my whole life.
Going back in time to the mid 1990’s, my birth mother had an aneurysm and had to re-learn how to do everything. The letters she sent me were done so with the help of a social worker. My birth sisters and brother explained that it was a tough time for everyone and though she would pull through, she would have no short term memory. In the summer of 2006, I packed a bag, got on a plane and headed to Ontario to meet my birth family. Of the 3 birth siblings, I talked to the oldest, Amanda, the most. We decided to meet up for a coffee just the two of us so we could chat in person before meeting everyone all at once. Meeting her face to face was a pretty cool experience. It was actually quite easy and felt like we had known each other our whole lives. We met up again the next day. She pulled up in a van full of people and the plan was to take me to her mom, my birth mother’s house. So here I am in a van with 2 of my birth sisters, 1 birth brother, an in-law and niece on my way to meet the woman who gave birth to me. I thought it would be a bit awkward, but it wasn’t at all. We seemed to have the same, weird sense of humour and all got along great! Then we started to slow down and turn into a driveway. I could feel a sinking sensation in my stomach as my hands started to tremble. We got out, walked up towards the door and there she was.
Because of her medical condition, I wasn’t sure how she would be and if she even knew who I was, but she did. We had a nice hug and went inside. She had a picture of me from the day I was born that she kept which I had never seen before. They told a story about how she always kept it in the house and no one was allowed to touch it. We shared stories for hours and then it was time to go home. Wow! It’s a day that I will never forget.
8 years later we still keep in touch. Since that day there has been a few nieces and nephews added and every time my wife and I head to Ontario to see my parents, we make time to visit with my birth family. It’s something we look forward to each year. All adoption stories are different. I happen to have a positive one and am so proud of my family and birth family equally.
Rob Michaels is the PD & Afternoon Host at Ocean 98.5 and can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.