My First Contact with My Son


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How would I manage my first contact with my son? I’d said good-bye to him in Iowa 20 years earlier.

Post Adoption Contact

I was not entirely sure how to initiate my first contact with my son.

As a regular attendee of the monthly Concerned United Birthparents meetings, I picked up some tips there. How to have modest expectations. How to approach the situation with an open mind. How to put myself in the shoes of my son. I didn’t want to shock him or frighten him. Most importantly, I didn’t want to lay my grief on him.

And there’s also this more recent guidance from American Adoption Congress.

After a lot of thinking, I found my path.

The letter

Not long before Christmas I decided I was ready to make my first post-adoption contact with my son. I wrote a letter to him, detailing who I was and how I’d come to place him  for adoption. And I enclosed a faded color snapshot of his biological father and me dressed in our pastel evening finery at our senior prom. What would my son think when he saw those two innocent smiles? Would he realize that he was in the photo too?

Christmas was just a couple of weeks away, so I put the letter in a red envelope, hoping to pass it off as a Christmas card. If he doesn’t write me back in a couple of weeks, I thought, I’ll call him.

The mail fell in heaps through the slot in our front door during the week before Christmas. I’d hear our dog bark, and I’d race to the entry hall to contemplate the holiday envelopes strewn on the rug. Examining each one, I hoped for a return address from my son, but there was nothing. At the meetings I’d heard adoptees say that reuniting with a birthparent could make the adoptive parents feel abandoned or threatened. I told myself my son was just taking it slow out of consideration for his family. But even ten days later there was no response.

A phone call

When I first received information about my son, I learned some basic details. That he lived at home with his parents. That he had a sister. That he worked as an information operator for the phone company.

The searcher had given me my son’s phone number and pointed out that the line was separate from his parents’ line. Consequently, I began working up the nerve to call him. But first, I wanted to find out if my son shared his phone line with his sister. This would be important if I called and left a message.

One afternoon shortly after New Year’s, while my daughters were napping, I sat on my bedroom floor with the telephone in my lap. Because I knew his sister’s name, I could call information to get her number and see if it was the same as his. I dialed information for Mesa, Arizona with my pencil at the ready. “Hello, this is C***. May I help you?” said the operator. I gasped at hearing my son’s name and slammed down the phone. I lay flat on my back on the cool oak floor of my bedroom. Was it possible that I had just spoken to my son?

I would find out later that I had.

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