Adoption and Loss

Perhaps you have come across this situation in your counselling practice or you are a party in a similar circumstance.

Unexpectedly, in June 2019 I was contacted by a woman stating she thinks she is my half sister. “YA RIGHT”!  I was skeptical and suspicious about who this person was. Out of respect, I messaged her back and told her I would take time in a few days to reconnect with her.

From that point, I connected with other siblings and we shared our thoughts about the situation. “Is this woman a crazy person, where does she live, and will she be knocking on my door in a minute”?

I also wondered how she found out about me; this was creepy to think someone has tracked me down.

After connecting with her, I found out she has been searching for 29 years for some connection to biological family.  Her story of loss, not feeling she belonged and her intense desire to be connected to others who had stories about her parent(s) was poignant.

I, on the other hand did not have a deep desire to meet her, but my other younger sister did.

This caused me to ponder the reasons why there were differences in how we approached this situation of a new sibling.  Quickly I processed that one of us had way more time and I wonder perhaps an emotional need to do so; while I had a lot on my plate and not much time to chat on the phone.

Over time we connected and have met in person.  She lives across the country, is a little younger than I and has a family as I do. We have things in common.  I can see a resemblance to my biological father in her.

Prior to knowing about this new sibling, I had written an article about adoption and loss.  I find it interesting how some of the different components below were also expressed by those in my personal story.

Here is something for you to think about; is adoption a loss?  Depending on your perspective the answer may be yes or no.  Another point to ponder is loss a positive or a negative? Again, the answer may depend upon your perspective. 

Perhaps you have been adopted or know someone who has, or perhaps you have had a child adopted or have adopted a child, hence the reference to perspective. 

I have heard different comments from many individuals dealing with adoption and everyone’s story is just that; their story.  Powerful stories of love, loss, despair, fear, wondering why or hoping the child never leaves. 

Searching for birth parents and scenarios where both parties are glad to reconnect and another party is upset at this reunion or is non supportive.  Searching for birth parents or children where to reconnect will cause harm to a newer family who do not know of the adoptive child, no matter what the age is. 

Some reunions go well and others do not.  Unanswered questions may never be answered while some individuals find a whole new part of their life open up.  Death of a biological parent or child may end the search, but there may be extended family that will or will not be receptive to sharing family history.

To say the least, most often this is not an easy journey for anyone involved.  High expectations may be shattered and low expectations may be met with open arms; no one knows until they open the door or have the conversations, if this is possible. 

No matter how you look at adoption it is a reality for many people; some will say thank you for a better life and some who will say why did you do this to me?  Understanding the perspective of another sheds light on the decision-making process, but does not stop the wondering “what if”. 

Personal update; my new found sister and I connect on social media and are slowly getting to know each other.  (The parent she was looking for is deceased.)   I find it weird that she exists in the first place and is now part of my life’s story. I do not think I have totally got my head around this.

How about you?  Do you have anything you can share about your experiences with this topic of adoption and loss?  Please do so; continue the conversation.


All my best

Barbara Gillett Saunders


It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.