If I had been asked before my son was born, my response would have been that it wasn't something I ever really thought about.
I knew my dad's cousin and wife had adopted after their sons were born - twins (brother and sister) from Africa and a Malaysian girl - but it was never something that was discussed. When I was 17 I found out an old school friend had been adopted but I wasn't that curious as I knew she had contact with her natural mother.
At 19, the reality of adoption hit me hard when I was forced to surrender my son. There was no good reason for it to happen. My parents just didn't want me raising my son as I was single and there was no way his father and I would marry. We had split on bad terms and neither of us wanted to get back together. Plus I knew he would never accept his child as his.
I completely retreated into myself and I had no support from anyone. I was lied to, not just by my parents but also by the adoption agency. Had the agency told me my rights, I would have been able to get the support to keep my son. Eventually I was told it was too late to stop the adoption.
For 23 years I refused to talk about my son -- even to my husband -- as my family had made it quite clear that it was in the past and to get on with my life. Even the adoption agency told me I would forget about my son, get on with my life, would have more children. They said I would never be allowed to search and my son would be too happy to with his adoptive family to search for me. So I suffered in silence and wouldn't let anybody get too close to me emotionally as I was so scared of losing grip on my emotions. I felt like a complete freak as what I was feeling wasn't what I was told would happen.
I never forgot my son, but I got on with my life because I had to for my own sanity. I could have searched eventually as the law changed but I believed what I was told -- that he was too happy to want to find me.
I didn't have more children unfortunately and my son DID decide to search. He found my family in 1999, but they basically lied to him for years. Then I found him through Genes Reunited in 2004.
Reunion unleashed all the emotions that I had locked away for so many years. The intensity was such that I sometimes thought I wouldn't endure it. I went through anger to the point of fury, shame, guilt, pain, sadness even loneliness but what helped me through was the joy of finding my son alive and well. I didn't know I could love someone so much that it almost hurt.
Reunion isn't easy by any measure and probably one of the hardest things a person can go through. I don't ever regret finding my son but I do regret that he was adopted in the first place. I cannot turn the clock back so I have had to learn to move on.
Pip, who lives near London in the UK, is a birthmother to a 27 year-old son and has been in reunion since 2004. This post was written for especially for Bridges. She also writes at My Rambling Thoughts, Pip's Journal and Relinquishing and Reunion.