After 23 years in reunion, I finally got my first holiday (Thanksgiving) with two of my sisters and their families.
I had never entertained the idea of this happening as long as my parents were alive due to “loyalty”. As most adoptees, I have struggled with loyalty since reunion but I always felt open communication was the key.
Societal expectations of gratitude are also always in play with adopted persons. Society keeps telling us we have reason to feel obligated and loyal to our adopted families than bios. We are made to feel that way because, after all our birth family didn’t want us or weren’t capable of keeping us, so… aren’t we lucky, grateful, that someone else did?” The adoptee is caught in the middle of this very powerful, emotional conflict. I constantly worry and constantly censor myself.
Feeling divided loyalty was a part of growing up and now as a reunited adult. I was raised to believe that my parents loved me more because they "wanted me.'
Now that I am in reunion, loyalty issues come up on a regular. In fact, people outside of the family will actually ask who I am closer to, or why I would want to search for complete “strangers." People also love to weigh in on which family is the "real" family. Some have come right out and said that my searching was "disloyal" to my adopted family.
Bio adults are free to have express negative feelings about or personal challenges within a family and no one challenges them. It’s not the same for an adopted person.
Sorry - I got off on a tangent there. A lot of Thanksgivings the last 10 years were spent on a soccer field (the joy of being a club soccer mom) but I can also say that loyalty kept me from spending holidays with my birth family for 23 years. I am excited to share that my first Thanksgiving with my bio family and their kiddos was extremely memorable. From the lavish scavenger hunts, scary movies to the Black Friday shopping – they were some of the best Thanksgiving memories in a long time!