mixed emotions of adoption reunion

So Many Emotions About My Son’s Adoption Reunion

Letter Writer: I  came across your post “He Wants to Live with His Birth Mother. Now what?”  — because I’m living it.

I am an adoptive mother of three.  My son, now 23 , graduated from college this past May.  Throughout his upbringing his father and I would talk about adoption from time to time and always told him (and the other kids, too) if they ever wanted to search for their birth parents we encourage and support and will help in anyway possible.

None of our kids ever took an interest, until earlier this year when my son was in his senior year of college. It seemed from out of nowhere, but all of a sudden he wanted to reach out to his birth mother.  I knew her last name and the state she last lived in. With that information, voilà,  he found her on Facebook.

My son met with a counselor who specialized in adoption search and reunion and we met with them to navigate the process.  My son asked for my help, asked if I could message her  through Facebook.  At first I was hesitant but after composing what I thought was a thoughtful , acceptable letter, the message was sent.

That was February of 2016.  We held our breath. Will she open the message, will she be open to corresponding, will she reject him? What will happen???

Fast forward a few months. We flew her and her entire family to his college town to attend his graduation this spring. They stayed for a week. Four weeks later my son decided to move to another state and live with them.

So this has been a whirlwind. It has been such an array of emotions. I am so grateful his biological family accepted him and immediately loved him and were open and kind and appreciative towards us.

On my bad days I feel like….. what. just. happened.

mixed emotions of adoption reunion

But then I ran into your post. I have it printed and hanging in my office to remind myself every day to “remain vigilant of my own fears and insecurities and deal with them.”

My son has only seen my (and his dad’s) appreciation and happiness for all that is going well in his life and how exciting this adventure is for him.  I have never wavered from that in front of him.

But on the inside it’s confusing , not every day, but sometimes, and sometimes the confusion gets the best of me.

— Charlene

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Hi, Charlene. Thanks so much for your letter. Kudos to you for keeping your own issues your own issues and leaving your son free to deal with only his. What a gift for him.

You didn’t actually ask a question but one arose in me when I read your last two paragraphs. I don’t know the answer to it, so I’m going to ask readers — especially adopted people — here.

My question stems from conversations we’ve had here recently (thanks, TAO), conversations that reiterate that children are not responsible for their parents’ feelings, nor should they be made to feel responsible for their parents’ feelings.

At the same time, I see value in modeling for our kids how to work through hard things. That usually means acknowledging that you’re facing a hard thing and are trying to do your best to work through your own emotions about it. It’s through this modeling that a son or daughter (a)  learns that dealing with hard things is something everyone faces, and (b) sees how their primary role model gets to the other side of a formidable issue. Qualities I want my kids to see when I do this include tenacity, self-reflection, mindfulness, self-forgiveness, compassion for others.

So given those competing ideas — not laying your feelings on your kids, yet also being open with them about your own emotional journey — here is my question to you (yes, you here reading).

It’s one thing to not lay your own issues on your kiddo. It’s another to hide from your son or daughter that you have issues of your own around insecurity and “ownership.” How much of this mom’s inner processing should she keep from her son, and how much should she share with him as she’s going through it?

Charlene’s one-year-later update

Read Also:

Image: John Snape (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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About this Open Adoption Advice Column

open adoption advice

  • I occasionally call on others to help with answers, to tap into group wisdom.
  • I am not trained as a therapist. Please do not rely on words in this space to make your own major or minor decisions.
  • Readers are encouraged to weigh in thoughtfully and respectfully. Remember that this is a teaching endeavor rather than a shaming endeavor, and that we aim to bring light rather than heat. It’s my belief that people do the best they can with what they have to work with, and our goal is to give folks more to work with.

Send in your own open adoption question. I’ll either offer an answer or find someone who can address your issue.

 

38 thoughts on “So Many Emotions About My Son’s Adoption Reunion”

  1. I think a little honesty, in this situation, would be OK. But too much could be destructive. You can’t tell a kid through his whole life that you’ll help him find his biological family and then say “I didn’t mean for THIS to happen” when he hits it off with them and focuses on establishing a relationship. But I think it’s OK to say “I’m glad that you’ve been accepted. It makes me feel a little superfluous, but I know that is not your intention at all. I’m your mom, and don’t forget to call me, and when will you be coming to visit?” And maybe it’s good for an adoptive mom to consider this no different than focusing on a new career or a new partner – all of the kid’s attention goes there for a while, but eventually, your child will come to you because there’s something only you can provide – your particular brand of love.

    1. In situations like these, I try to take out the adoption charge to see how I’d handle something similar but not-adoption. So I like what you’ve done here: “consider this no different than focusing on a new career or a new partner – all of the kid’s attention goes there for a while.”

  2. Thanks Lori…

    Having never been on the flip side I can only guess at the emotions from the adoptive parent side and we all know that typically fails. I do know how mom modelled it, with vague memories as a child to vivid memories at my siblings wedding not so long ago. I never saw mom modelling her side of reunion my sibling had with her mother. I did see her modelling inclusiveness, equanimity, equality, albeit the very different roles played between mom and my siblings mother. So, if anything, mom modelled how to handle a tough situation with equanimity, a very valuable skill set to have I might add that also includes a component of the compassion for others as a bonus

    I don’t think a parent needs to show the emotions coursing through them in regards to a reunion between their child and parent by birth. I’ve never met, or spoken too, an adoptee who doesn’t get that this may, and likely will be hard for their mom/dad. I have had many ask for advice on how to help their parents deal with it. Seeing it modelled as in the big, hard emotions – is centering the experience on the adoptive parents, rather than the child, the one person experiencing an overwhelming storm of every emotion possible. Adding another emotional burden on the adoptee, just no.

    I’m also sure that most parents throughout life have had far too many opportunities to model the emotions of hard stuff to their child to teach them how to deal with the feelings, how to see how others are affected, how to be compassionate and wise. If you haven’t taught them this – it’s a little late in the game to do it now.

    Based on the very small poll you linked to, that has no scientific merit – adoptees will put their needs at the back of the line with your feelings at the front. With that in mind, if you absolutely need your feelings about reunion made known to your child – you will have to walk a very narrow path doing it. The focus then has to pivot to the emotions of watching your child grow into an adult, start spreading their wings, being open and willing to reach out to their other parents, and the inherent fears that go with it, centered around both the joy it brings and the sadness they grew up so fast.

    I’ll leave with a question: Why this need to make the child’s reunion THE time to teach them this skill? Why the resistance to accepting that your role is to be the one in the background, ready, and willing to be the one to just give support – whether it is as a mentor, or as mom when things don’t turn out the way the child wanted them too?

    1. This is great perspective. Thank you for sharing! I found it really interesting that you discuss that the child would inherently understand the difficult parts of this for the adoptive parents. It’s important for us parents to remember this… That there is a burden on our children of keeping our feelings at the forefront of every thing.

  3. “Why this need to make the child’s reunion THE time to teach them this skill? ” — Not THE time. But part of an ongoing pattern of not hiding one’s own imperfections and struggles.

    “Why the resistance to accepting that your role is to be the one in the background?” Hmmm…I feel as though I asked the question more from a desire to be in integrity than a desire to be in the foreground. But I would like to examine that within to make sure.

    Thanks for the prompt, and for your viewpoint.

  4. This is such an interesting question. Particularly given reading the comments and seeing the different points of view. TAO’s thoughts are especially important given that she points out how the adoptee is likely taking on a role of protecting their adoptive parents. Hence why it’s important for the adults to seek help and deal with their own issues.

    But I also wonder, given this culture of openness and truth, wouldn’t it also be a disservice to not have this struggle shared with the adoptee? I agree that learning how to manage life crises should be taught early on, but isn’t hiding those emotions from the adoptee also dishonest? I ask as I truly don’t know and want to understand.

  5. I can also only approach this from the adoptee side of things, and from my experience going through reunion and trying to balance my mothers’ needs. Yes, their needs, not mine. At FIVE YEARS into reunion, I’m starting to find a balance that includes my needs. LW, your son is just beginning. He has a long journey. So do you.

    Have you considered going back to that counselor that helped your son with the initial reunion? Please consider it.

    My parents also promised to help me search. They were actually ready for that. My adoptive mom was entirely unprepared for reunion, though. Her method of dealing with her feelings, which she has acknowledged out loud to me once, is to pretend they aren’t there and pretend she’s happy about everything. This is remarkably unsuccessful. The conversations get awkward and weird and uncomfortable whenever she asks about my reunion.

    I went to therapy for several years to sort everything out, and I live far away from both of my families. I wish, for her sake and the sake of our relationship, that my adoptive mom had found an outlet for her feelings, some help with processing them. Our relationship would be better.

    We know our parents struggle. If nothing else, any searching adoptee has heard “But what about your parents? How do THEY feel about it?” from almost anyone they’ve told. Unless you’ve had the kind of family life where you have shared every struggle openly as a family — every marital dispute, every financial issue, everything — consider keeping this struggle to yourself. Don’t ignore it. Deal with it. If you can work through it, honestly, you’re opening the door to a better relationship with your son going forward.

    1. Oh, yes, good advice for Charlene to also get some counseling from an adoption-competent therapist.

      Also, your comment reminds me of two resources I neglected to mention, two relevant books from Entourage Press, an adoptee-centric publisher. I believe these would both be helpful for an adoptive parent in a search/reunion situations (and, of course, the adopted person).

      Adoption Reunion in the Social Media Age

      Adoption Therapy: Perspectives from Clients & Clinicians on Processing and Healing Post-Adoption Issues

      I also appreciate what you say about not sharing other grown-up stuff with kids, like financial difficulties or divorce issues. That’s helpful in figuring out where to draw the line between authenticity and discretion because, of course, most parents walk this line in non-adoption situations.

  6. A way to share with your son, “I think I may understand some of how your mother/parents felt when she/they placed you.”

    When you love your child and want so much to be with them and love them and guide them and care for and teach them, it’s hard to let them go to other parents. Whether a child being placed with adoptive parents or a child returning to their heritage.

    Sounds as though he is ‘diving in the gene pool’ and immersing himself in what is an important part of what makes him who he is. Help him to ground himself in the best reality of ALL those who make him who he is, by heritage and nurture.

    Having two sets of parents is something hard, -for parents- to deal with, whether it’s through a divorce or any other family arrangement such as adoption. It’s hard to “let go” and let someone else love the child that we feel is -our- precious one. I can say from experience that a surrendering /placing mother can completely empathize with what adoptive parents feel when … there is another mother, another set of parents that your child is going to live with and you need to be ‘happy’ about it. Some days feels barely survivable with all the emotions. The thing is though, adoptee’s do have 2 sets of parents… and they both exist and they both love them very much. It’s the reality. It is survivable.

    Be as honest with your own feelings as you can possibly be. For example, if you wished this had never gone this far, or you wish that they had said no to meeting, or only met and exchanged information… explore your feelings about that and work through them, grounded in reality and with the love you feel for your children always in mind.

    Simply a few thoughts from a mother who’s been down that road (very early on). I so hope you all come through this time of change, stronger, loving more deeply, and able to fully embrace one another as part of a larger family that is blessed with a fine young man to love. I hope he flourishes in this ever growing circle of love.

    1. Cindy, I love the way you bring empathy and connection into this scenario. I think these traits are wonderful guides to get to the destination you mention, one of deeper connection for all involved.

    2. Respectfully, I disagree. I think comparing yourself as the adoptive parent of an adult in reunion to the birth parent of a baby placed for adoption is not sensitive or accurate. The adoptee will likely feel guilty or like they must reassure their parents that they are not lost to them. This shouldn’t be how they are made to feel. They did not choose to be adopted after all.

  7. Oh my, I can see both sides of this. I am an adoptee and have found birth family but late in life when all I have are cousins left. It has been a wonderful experience to get to know them and learn of my history, etc. But I waited til my parents were deceased because I knew my adoptive mom would not understand my searching at all. I can’t imagine her ever saying she would be glad to help me find birth family. So I waited. Your son is lucky to have found close birth family still alive and do understand his feelings of joy. But I do see your side too. I’m sure you feel left out of this joy. If you see that he is so grateful that you helped him to find these birth family members, you already know you are so loved and respected. I don’t think it would hurt to quietly tell him that you are so happy for him, but do hope he still considers you his mom and I’m sure you will find that he does and has not thought of any hurt this has caused at all. Just getting it out should help you a lot I think.

  8. Your son’s reunion is for him and about him. Those are his roots and he has every right to explore that and build those relationships without fear of how it will affect you. Chances are those fears are already there for him. That would explain why he didn’t express interest in searching while he was living at home.

    Basically, I can’t imagine what you would say or how you could say it that wouldn’t in some way lay a guilt trip on the poor guy. These are your issues. You’ve had his whole life to prepare for this. Meanwhile, he was living a presumable closed adoption with no information until recently. You had her name and where she lived, but kept that from him. Why? He did his duty. He lived as your son while he was growing up. Now he’s an adult and he’s beholden to nobody. This is his life and he can decide for himself who his family is and with whom he wishes to spend his time.

    If he comes back to you, great. If he doesn’t, then you know that in his heart he was never really yours to begin with.

    1. Jackie,

      Your last sentence seems really cruel to the parent. To me shouldn’t the message to the parent be whether or not her son comes back is out of her control and not a reflection on her? Instead saying that the kid never was really part of their family is cruel. It’s like telling a biological family that if an adoptee never searches for them that they never were a part of that family.

      1. It isn’t a reflection on her. That’s pretty well the central theme of my post! People think that if they have their signed ownership papers on file down at the courthouse, that negates generations of biology. Bonding begins in the womb. Newborns long for their mothers, not a stranger. Despite what adoption professionals may say, an adoptor is essentially a stranger to that baby. The quality of the attachment the baby is able to make depends on many factors varies by adoptee.

        For some adoptees (me included), our bond with our mother is so strong and our Amom is so woefully mismatched that we never truly bond with our Amom. We still love her, but she can never take the place of our mother. Are we beholden to them for life? At what point are we allowed to go home? We know this about kept children, so why is it not true for the adopted? It’s common sense really and unfortunate that I need to explain it so explicitly.

        I say all this not to be cruel to Amoms. We all know how delicate adaptor’s feelings are and it pains me to burst their “as if born to” fantasy. (Sarc) However, closed adoption is itself cruel, isn’t it? I say this to educate, to speak for those that haven’t yet found their voice. I speak on behalf of my seven-year-old self who considered suicide because she felt so alone. I didn’t understand why I felt such deep sadness and body seemed to care. How different my experience could have been if someone had explained the loss to me and especially to my Aparents.

        I say these things because this is the reality of adoption. That is someone else’s child that you are purchasing. They are yours on paper alone. They may develop a deep attachment to you or they may not. Your level of openness about that child’s loss will affect that attachment. If you can’t handle this reality, you should not be adopting.

  9. As an adoptee Im so happy he has found his family as an adoptive parent you know that the child is never really yours they have a family . Please dont ruin his chance at happiness with his family. Adopters are so selfish thinking the child that they brought from probably a young poor woman wont want to go home.I can only imagine the happiness that they are all feeling. My adoptive mother forbid me to see my real mother so that was the end of her I went home and never returned.

  10. I tend to agree with Tao on this one.

    I’m moving across country to be closer to my b-father. (Yes, I know many don’t like to use the word biological, but that’s what I grew up with using, and it makes sense to me, and I use it with great respect.) My a-mother outwardly supports my choice, but I can also see the pain. Her facial expressions tell me a lot, and occasionally she’ll voice her pain.

    I feel burdened by those looks and the conversations.

    I have enough negative thoughts from others to deal with. People tend to think what I’m doing is wrong. Oh, yes, most people love the idea of an hour-long reunion on Maury, but most aren’t as keen about long-term relationships between adoptees and their b-families. People think we should be loyal to the people who raised us. Just visit your b-family once or occasionally , and that should be enough.

    So, I don’t have the energy to deal with my mother’s feelings about this. She’s human. Her feelings will surface from time to time. But, I don’t think this is the time for a teaching moment on how to deal with hard things.

    In life, we also learn that we shouldn’t always share our thoughts and feelings. Sometimes we just need to support the person and get support for ourselves from other sources.

    My mother isn’t going to be perfect with this. I know she’s doing the best she can. But, if I’m being totally honest, those looks and conversations feel oppressive. When they occur, I’m reminded that I’m not being the good adoptee. I’m sick of being expected to play that role.

    1. I wonder if there is a difference between looks and conversations that may be designed to manipulate, and looks and conversations that are real and raw and possible a source for deeper connection….

      I hear what you and TAO are saying, that the emotions are so big around search/reunion/adoption that one can’t also take on anOTHER person’s big emotions.

      This? So true: “most people love the idea of an hour-long reunion on Maury, but most aren’t as keen about long-term relationships between adoptees and their b-families.”

      1. Lori,

        I don’t think there is any difference on the adoptee – whether it is designed to be manipulative or raw. We have lived our entire lives being called lucky, told how grateful we must be (or should be), told who are real parents are by society at large, and some by our own extended family as well.
        We’ve also likely been told by the body language of our parents growing up that even if they are as comfortable as one can be, or think they are comfortable with everything adoption – it’s hard too. In essence, we’ve been programmed to know what is expected of us, because at the end of the day, our parents took us in when our other parents didn’t / couldn’t whatever the reason, parent us. It’s the loyalty thing – why some wait until their parents pass, why others don’t tell and live dual lives, why we downplay it to mere curiosity or medical history. It’s also that no child wants to hurt their parents. Wrap ALL that into one person whose had that message reinforced their entire life, not just now when he wants a chance to get to know his other family. He’s lived with it his whole life being told what’s expected of him – because he’s adopted, and he owes a debt of gratitude.
        This adoptee – he’s 18, which means he doesn’t have the decades of living on his own, the lived experiences we’ve gone through that that makes us more sure of ourselves and decisions.
        I think his mom expressing her feelings at this point – will likely ensure he either makes a clean break, and perhaps with anger which isn’t good, or doesn’t go, and suppresses all his needs and puts her needs first. <- I doubt that is the intended outcome of conscious parenting. The latter outcome is what so many adoptees have chosen from our era – hence the waiting until the parents pass, or living a dual life.

  11. I feel like it’s worth remembering that a young person who has just graduated college is starting to seek out a new life on their own anyway, and in this case, it’s coinciding with finding his birth family. I’m sure Charlene has some of those feelings that all parents experience on some level mixed up in there with everything else. My poor mom had literal panic attacks that sent her to the hospital when we left home, and she didn’t have the complicated emotions of being an adoptive mom to make it harder. My mother in law also still struggles with her daughter being away from home, and that has been almost 10 years now.

    Speaking only as an adoptive mom, and as the daughter of someone who made it hard (unintentionally, of course) to strike out on my own and find my own place in the world, I think counseling is he best bet. Deal with the feelings and get them out, because you are human and your feelings are valid too. Goodness knows that being an adoptive parent requires you to challenge yourself on those fronts enough without having to pretend it’s not happening. But I agree that it shouldn’t be your kid’s burden to bear. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying, “Oh, I miss you like crazy, but I’m SO thrilled that you’re doing this and I wouldn’t want you to miss it for the world. I love you so much.” But making your child, biological or not, feel bad for going out and chasing down dreams is damaging. I missed out on things in general that I wish I’d done and can’t go back and do now because my mom’s expression of her feelings made me feel too guilty to leave. The stakes are much higher here, in my opinion.

    There’s a well-known saying that we should give our children two things: roots and wings. Make sure you kid knows you love them and will *always* be there for them, and then let them fly after their dreams. I hope I can do that for my kiddos.

    1. Love this Both/And approach: “Oh, I miss you like crazy, but I’m SO thrilled that you’re doing this and I wouldn’t want you to miss it for the world. I love you so much.”

  12. As a 48 year old adoptee, I can say the amom has nothing to worry about. The boy is in the romance stage of reunion and trying to make-up for lost time. However, he mostly will discover there was no ‘time lost. He will see he is with people he is related to, but don’t have the same history and memories with them as if he were raised by them. They may have values/morales that are different than the ones he grew-up with. He may feel weird when the bparents call themselves his “parents” and try to parent him. He may also find that calling another woman “mom” doesn’t feel right. He’ll be back-he’s young and he thinks he knows want he wants-like all young adults do! I believe it’s a phase that most young adoptees go through.

    1. Wow. You’ve been drinking the kool-aide haven’t you. Treat the birthing vessel inhuman everything will be alright with amom! This sycophantic drivel sickens me.

  13. Thank you for sharing this post and your feelings toward your son’s decision.

    I’m a Korean adoptee who will be going back to Korea to search for my birth family in just a few weeks, and while my A parents are absolutely supportive, my mom was at first resistant to being kept updated on the process, and of what I was discovering about my adoption and Korea. I was so relieved and happy when she shared her general concerns with me so that we could emphasize that nothing could break the bonds of love that we have already built together over 29 years (I was adopted at 3 months old). We hugged it out and she’s been asking about it ever since 🙂

    You’re a strong and wonderful parent, and I trust that whatever happens moving forward, that it will be out of and received in pure love. – Justin

    P.S. I’ve launched a project to capture my experience in Korea and will be sharing much of my thoughts on my adoption growing up the sole minority in a rural school district in West Virginia. If you’d like to follow along, you can check out http://www.seouljournproject.org/

  14. I’m so happy that you and your mom are able to go through your journeys alongside each other, Justin.

    I’ll be checking out your project — thanks for the link. I wish you the best on your search and reunion efforts.

  15. Charlene deserves applause for helping her son find his family. Now she needs to get adoption counseling of her own to deal with her issues. I agree with others that as an adoptee we already know that it’s an issue for our aparents, because so many don’t talk about adoption while we’re growing up. The subject comes across to adoptees as taboo until we find our families – then it’s shock that we’re interested.

    Now is not the time to dump guilt on her son, he needs emotional support probably more than he’s ever needed it before. Reunions are emotional roller coasters that often have extreme peaks and valleys. Charlene would best serve her son with a daily text “Love you son. Miss you. Did you get to meet anyone new today?” The kinds of messages you’d send if he were away at summer camp.

    I’m also an adoptive parent and treat my kids bfamilies as if they are my family too. I’d also text bmom to see how things are going, or become her friend on Facebook. She also needs some support because she generally has some serious guilt and fear going into the relationship too, and that is also felt by the adoptee. Adoptees have so much to juggle during reunion that it can often produce serious depression. My losses really smacked me in the face. The brother who died, I never got to meet. The childhood stories I’m not part of. My grandmother who always prayed for me. The more guilt the adoptee feels the less inclined we are to discuss what’s really happening especially with any of our parents, and that can have serious consequences. Charlene needs to think more about her son and less about herself especially for the first few years, and after that she will know where she fits in and it will no longer be a problem. He’s on an emotional high right now, because he’s feeling accepted by everyone. Don’t pull the rug out from under him. Just let him feel your love and acceptance.

  16. Your son knows how you feel. You don’t have to act fake-happy but don’t lay a guilt trip on him. If you try to understand you won’t be upset (jealous-let’s be real). He was in a closed adoption-he wants to know bfamily. Quickest way to do that-live with them! He is not leaving you for them; he cannot relive his childhood. He will have ups and downs while with them. He will need you to talk to and it sounds like you are close so I’m sure he will. That does not mean he will tell you every feeling he has about his bfamily. He just needs you to ” be there.” Even if he develops a close relationship with them he still has a rocky road ahead. He will always be an adoptee. Try to understand.

  17. Such a thoughtful post with so many perspectives and thoughtful responses in the comments… really gives me a lot to think about. It’s good to hear that you can prepare yourself as an adoptive parent for helping in search and reunion, but that you ALSO have to prepare yourself for all the possible outcomes of that reunion and not let your issues cloud over your child’s experiences with their biological family, not inadvertently give the impression that they are not being “grateful” that they are somehow responsible for your happiness. I am hoping for an open adoption where reunion isn’t necessary because everyone knows each other from the start, but am finding that sometimes you have contact with the birth mother but not at all and/or no information on the birth father’s side (so search and reunion would be something in the future there), and that you could be open to open adoption but the birth mother is not. It seems that the value of an adoption-centered therapist is invaluable for all these complexities of parenting a child who has two sets of parents. Thanks for all the varied perspectives.

    1. With all due respect, and as a 48 year old adoptee, I can’t agree that adoptees have two-set of parents. I was raised that I have two mother two father BUT one set of parents-my aparents. If you look at it, it’s true. For many, parents are the ones who are there psychologically, emotionally and physically. I have an adopted son and that’s what I have taught him as well. You have two mothers, two fathers, but one set of parents- me and your dad.

        1. Sam: What did I say wrong? Yes, I was taught I have two mothers TWO fathers BUT only one set of parents. Isn’t it giving homage to the bparents? You aren’t a parent if you chose not to raise your child. And even if you were forced to place, like my bparents were, the fact still remains you didn’t raise the child. For many people a ‘parent’ is the one who is emotionally, physically and physiologically there everyday, and in every way, throughout the child’s life.

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