I was pretty late to the “This Is Us” bandwagon, but I’ve caught up and love it. My friends say they cry every episode, but I don’t because I’m living it. Well, sort of.
My 15-year-old daughter met her birth mother the same night I started watching it. It was the episode where Randall gets really sad and angry when he realizes his adoptive mother Rebecca knew his birth father and didn’t tell him. Talk about life imitating art.
I used to be like Rebecca, accepting of birth parents somewhere out yonder, but relieved they weren’t in the picture. I wasn’t afraid they’d want custody, but I was fearful that my daughter would somehow love us less if she met them.
But when a medical condition came up and a doctor asked for a history, I didn’t have one. I called the adoption agency and learned the records are missing. It was time to get over myself and do some digging. I sent both birth parents emails and they both got back to me immediately. They provided medical info, and were eager for a relationship with my daughter.
We met her birth mom in March and we’re going on our second “date” on Sunday at her birth mother’s place. So far, it’s been great for everyone, especially my daughter who jokes that she has to deal with “four parents.”
What I’ve learned is it’s never good to hide the truth because in a sense, you’re living in an imaginary world. It takes a huge amount of energy to keep secrets, and in the end, nobody wins. You feel like a fraud, and your child wonders why you hid the truth. You think you’re protecting them, shielding them from the pain of abandonment, but in the end I believe they’ll love you more for being honest.
I live in Connecticut, where there’s a bill pending that would open records for all adoptees. Currently, only adoptees born after 1983 have the right to see their original birth certificates. Opponents argue that birth mothers were guaranteed lifetime anonymity when they surrendered their parental rights, but get this: after their death, birth records are unsealed. In other words, you can find out who gave birth to you only after they’re dead.
I think my sister Patty put it best: “Can you imagine finding out your mother had a child and didn’t tell you about it? You’d always wonder what other secrets she had.”