Why Finding Your Birth Parents Won’t Help You Find Yourself

Who am I?  Where do I come from?  I think, maybe, it’s these questions above all others that haunt those people who grow up without a mother or father – adopted, or abandoned.

finding birth parents

And though they’re perfectly normal and understandable questions to ask, I think their obsession with it overlooks something important, something huge…

I was watching a reality TV show this week (don’t be jeals), and I heard a girl on the show say the following, after hiring an investigator to find the father she had never met (paraphrasing here):

If I could just meet my father, I think I could finally find out who I am and where I come from.  I think I’d finally be able to close this hole in my heart I’ve had all my life.

I cringed a bit hearing it.

Cause if she is as the show presents her, then finding dude that essentially donated some sperm is very likely the least of her problems.

But I understand the angst.  I understand the longing.

There’s no problem with wanting to know who your real parents are.  It makes sense.  Cause when a person is raised not knowing their biological parent they come to think that a piece of them is missing; that a part of themselves, their story is yet unknown to them; that who they are and where they come from is somehow related to this person – the missign mom or dad they feel should have been there in their youth.

And over the course of their life and their struggles – as this person misses more and more of what they should be there to see – they come to believe that they will never feel complete, never whole, never healed of heart or at peace until they finally make contact.  Until they finally “know”.

It’s something that follows them every day and everywhere.

Where are they now?

Who are they today?

Do I even want this at all?

But they HAVE to do it, they say.  They HAVE to know.

They’re seeking answers to the questions they have of their selves, and they think they will find them in this person; that in this lost parent is the last piece to their puzzle, and the final rest to their past.

Who is he?

Where do I come from?

Who am I?

It’s the unknown that – in many ways – has haunted them.  And should they just find them – should they just meet at last – maybe there’s the potential for a relationship that could actually be meaningful, lasting, and even life-changing.

Who – in such a position – wouldn’t want that?  Who wouldn’t be curious?  Who wouldn’t be haunted?  Who wouldn’t want – more than anything else – to meet the person who is responsible for their very existence in this world?

I know I would.  Of course I would.

It hurts nothing to try, and it’s a risk worth taking – for even a rejection would do little harm, when essentially every day before was too a rejection; when every day before these parents chose not to reach out, and instead stayed away, stayed apart – because of disinterest, or fear.

So I understand.

But I can’t accept it

I can’t accept the idea that they have anything that I would need.

I can’t accept that in meeting this person – or any person – you will find the answer to who you are, and what you are; that in knowing this person – this parent – you will finally be able to answer the question that’s hanuted you: Who am I?

And why would it?

Someone’s absence can not affect you, except so much as you allow it to affect you.  What is not there cannot hurt.

For better or worse, this parent was not there, and in their stead you became what you became.  You became You, not in spite of their absence, nor because of their absence, but always and forever because of You.

You made yourself – for better or worse.  You make yourself – from this day forward.

That their absence hurt you, that your broken home proved damaging to your belief in yourself, in your trust in who and what you are, was always your choice.  And should you meet this person tomorrow, or never, who you are remains your choice.

If you needed them at all, it was because you convinced yourself of it.

If there is a hole in your heart, it’s because you opened it.

Not him.  Not her.  Not anyone.

And though your childhood may be damaging…

…your identity can not be based on the presence or absence of a mother or a father, in where they come from or who they are, in why they left or never returned.

It’ll kill you.

Because who is this person but a stranger, after all?  How could meeting them shed any light on who you are anymore than any other random person you pass in the street?  They cannot give to you the one thing you need far more than you need them – the belief that you are fine without them, that you are all you need.

Because you are all you need.

You’re the fill for the hole in your heart.

And your heart should feel whole with one parent or two, one family or none, with the earth round or flat.


…if finding your estranged mother or father is of importance to you, then do it.  Find them.  Find them and meet them.  Talk to them and share your stories.

But be conscious of why you do so, that it’s out of longing and desire, and not of desperation or need.

Cause you survived each day to this without them, and may yet need to survive each day hereafter much the same.

You struggled and learned, fell down and stood up without them.  You did it on your own.  You became You because of you.

So know who You are.  Because this person does not.

But maybe more important than all…

Don’t air your sorrows on reality TV.


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