It was two years ago that I met Jacob's birth family. It was a day that changed my life. Up to that point in time, I thought I was pretty good at turning my emotions on and off when I needed to. I could set a straight face and then just wait until later to show myself.
That day I nervously rode the four hours down a sometimes very bumpy road. I was thristy but couldn't drink any of the bottled water we took with us. The roads were just too bumpy and the bottle and water would fly everywhere when I tried. There was dust everywbere and the ground was dry. The people all seemed so friendly. They waved happily as we drove by some yelling foreigner and laughing others just stopping to stare.
We arrived in the town where Jacob's family would be brought to meet us. I was anxious. Would they come? Would they like me? Would they demand that I return him to them? Were they happy he was going to America?
My fears were soon calmed. Jacob's family (I won't say which ones for privacy reasons) arrived to meet us. As soon as they saw me, they began crying. I wasn't far behind. I sat down and just let them talk. About thirty minutes later, we left the room. The visit had lasted almost twice as long as everyone else's.
I couldn't stop crying. Me. I almost never cry in public and I couldn't stop. I wasn't sure what to do. I did know that I had learned some very important things from people in a completely different culture and land than I had grown up in. I learned that strength is found inside and not shown without tears. It is deep inside of a person and shows when that person is called to do the unimaginable to help another human being. I learned that love can sometimes mean saying good bye despite every part of you wanting to say stay. I learned that birth parents (know matter how they came to say good bye to their child) love their child.
Mostly I gained respect and love for a person I had never met. I saw a lot of me in them that day. We had a similar personality which would explain why Jacob and I have similar personalities today. When I look at Jacob two years later, I see his birth family. I see their quiet strength. I see their overwhelming generosity and compassion when he is the first to share with a new child or to comfort a crying child. I see their beauty both inside and outside.
For anyone considering adoption as a way to form a family, I urge you to meet the birth family. Not to find out what type of genetic risks their might be or to confront them about the choices they have made. Meet them to get to know them. It will help you understand your child and the gifts he or she has inherited. It will allow you to give that gift to your child in the form of memories you have of his or her birth family.
To Jacob's birth family, thank you. You will never know the joy you have given me. I have never once stopped thinking about you and thanking you. You gave me your son. As I said that day, we are both now his family.