I went to my first WARM support group meeting in 2016, showing up teary, frantic and not even sure what I needed. I was in a full-on identity crisis. The act of reaching out for help felt Herculean to me at the time. The support, comfort, understanding and actual help I received from WARM changed my life.
Going through my father’s papers after his death in 2012, I unearthed the file he had compiled about my birth mother. It had her maiden name, birthdate, and an address from the early 70s. My dad was an attorney and had accessed court records the week of my birth in 1968. Seriously, it was the only ‘unethical’ thing he has ever done. I don’t think it was unethical, I think it was heroic.
In 2013 I decided to begin my search one step at a time, just exploring, as I didn’t have to do anything with the information. I wanted to know more, so I started my search on Ancestry and found a helpful obituary. I quickly found my birth mother and her current married name. On my Ancestry account I made a family tree and discovered a Norwegian and French Canadian heritage. Cool! Three days later, in the full randomness of the universe my birth mother messaged me, but she doesn’t know who I am. I now know it wasn’t random at all, it was my way to truth and eventually to WARM.
We emailed each other on the Ancestry site and she shared information about our ancestors. It took me about a week to decide to tell her I was looking for her. Hitting send on that email was one of those truly shining moments, equal parts exhilaration and paralyzing terror. Then silence, for three years. I worked through a roller coaster of emotions and finally resigned myself to her silence. I was very angry.
Fast forward to 2016, after taking a DNA test I was happily exploring my heritage. One day, Ancestry pings me with a new DNA match. It’s her, my birth mother. No question about it. She sends me a message: “DNA says we are related. I don’t know who you are?” I have never been more confused in my life. Was she sane? Was it really her? A relative helping her with the computer?
I replied back, confirming our relationship and our previous contact. Silence again. Three weeks go by and I have no idea what to do, I’m frustrated and angry. My friends and family are supportive, but as clueless as I am. I need help. That is how I ended up at my first WARM support group, crying my eyes out. WARM delivered. I got what I needed. All adoptees are welcome in the tribe.
Three months later, another shining moment. Mickey, an amazing CI for WARM calls, a smile in her voice says “I just talked to a wonderful woman that wants to speak with you.”
My reunion and search continued with some connections I value greatly and others I am not engaged in. I found out I have six half siblings! It is a large and complicated family.
I received continued support from WARM navigating those waters, as they help me learn such a valuable life lesson. Over the course of my reunion, I learned that my birth mother placed another child, a boy, up for adoption 15 months after me. These pieces of her story and her reluctance for contact started making sense.
Once again WARM returned into my life in 2021. In July I learned from my half-brother Joe that this ‘boy’ had reached out to our birth mother, wanting contact. I was over the moon with this news! In our first phone call, he told me he used a CI from WARM for his search. I don’t know how often two adoptees find each other this way, but it is delightful to have another adoptee in the family. It was also really fun telling the news to Valerie in the WARM office and hearing her whoop with excitement.
My adoption story is long, complicated and seemingly never ending. Just like life. I am forever grateful to WARM for the work they do and to my fellow adoptees, whose stories and support are so precious.Reaching out and asking for help when you need it is fundamental to growth and connection. I am grateful for the opportunity to support WARM and its service to all whose lives have been touched by adoption. I encourage others, whose lives have been enriched by their experience with WARM, to give generous support to this amazing organization. ~ Sarah J.