Meeting my birth mother

I had always wanted to meet my birth mother (like most other adopted kids). I’ve always known I was adopted. I don’t remember a moment when I was told “You’re adopted”. I just grew up watching my baby videos and one of the videos was called “first looks”.  My parents would show that to me a lot – I just thought I was super cute so I loved it. I remember there was a phase when I would re-watch that video and wonder “is she secretly my birth mother” for every woman in that video. I’d do that so much! For a while I wondered if the red-haired white woman in Inspector Gadget was my mother! I even cried about that!

I asked my mom to contact SOFOSH to find my birth mother.  I stupidly thought it would be a relaxing trip going to India to find out more about my biological parents. It was far from that. Mom and I went to my orphanage to see some babies and to speak to the social worker. We sat down with the social worker and it all felt like a blur.  “So Richa. Your birth mother has agreed to meet you”. I was listening but somehow my brain shut off right after I got the answer. That was very clear to my mom cause she put her hand on my arm and gave a huge smile “Did you hear that!?!” We then got some other info on her. That she had changed her name after giving birth to me, got married and had 2 kids 2 years after me. Her husband didn’t know about me.  I had assumed my whole life my birth dad was not worthy of pleasant thoughts. I learned from the social worker that he was a photographer with his own studio, and that he had been unable to marry my birth mother because they had the same last name. That was mind altering realizing I could have inherited my passion for digital art from my father!

The car ride to meet my birth mother was about 31/2 hours. On the car ride I began having fears. “What if she says she’ll meet but decides to back out?” “What if I am not what she expects and gets disappointed?” A social worker, translator, my mom and I waited in a coffee shop to meet my biological mother. My birth mother brought along her youngest sister. My biological aunt looked just liked me and was the one firing a lot of the questions. My birth mother was very calm and a bit quiet (unlike me!). I talked to her about her kids. She said I am very much like my biological brother! In that moment I felt something I never thought I’d feel. I didn’t realize that part of me worried whether she was empty without me. She said she didn’t regret giving me a better life but that if she could have provided one for me, she’d have been so happy to raise me. My mom on the other hand must’ve been so anxious for me. Just beginning the trip! NO mother wants to see their kid wait for something their whole life and be let down. My entire family was super anxious for me and supportive and patient.

When people ask how it was for me to experience that, I say I didn’t feel at all how I thought I’d feel. It was not a bad thing at all. All the movies about adoption display those moments in a way that isn’t realistic. My meeting wasn’t emotional. It was surreal. It went by fast. The one thing that felt similar to movies was the slow motion part. I felt I was intaking every feeling. Ignoring all my random thoughts to just be in the moment.

To be completely honest I didn’t feel a connection to my birth mother!!!! In my head I built up this relationship to her but it wasn’t real. It doesn’t mean I don’t care for her. Doesn’t mean I don’t love her. It’s hard to feel a connection to someone you know exists but have zero information about personally. I felt more of a connection to my biological aunt. Mostly because her personality clicked with mine. Sometimes I wonder how I’d feel if I didn’t meet my birth mother at all. If we were arranging to meet but she backed out.  I was causing trouble to my parents before the trip, and I would probably have become worse. Meeting my birth mother made me feel more at peace.

My mom came with me on the trip. I think it was really nice for it to have been just us two because the more people the more pressure I’d have felt to hold up emotionally. There was a lot going on for me and my mom. I am grateful to have someone so strong to have gone with on this trip. Also I learnt just by writing this and talking to my mom about it that I was so stressed I didn’t hear important information while talking to the social worker. I have never been so stressed before or after – my brain shut down 20 times that day. It may not seem a big issue but I talk really fast to where no one can understand. My mom being there to help me communicate / translate made it a smoother experience. No one knows how to emotionally calm me down like my mom. I don’t know how to possibly be that strong when the time comes for me to be a mom.

–Richa Gopal

See also “Meeting the woman who gave me my daughter” by Gita Gopal

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Nancy

Thank you so much for sharing your experience, thoughts and feelings — I have two daughters who were born in India. Reading your account helps me picture some of the thoughts they may have about searching or (hopefully) meeting a birth relative someday. I truly appreciate your words.