Last month (November), during national adoption month, we were reminded of the vital roles foster parents and adoptive parents play in helping create safe communities for children.
For Angelle Richardson, 47-years-old, she could not have been more grateful for the role her adoptive parents played in her life and for the courage they expressed in helping her to reconnect with her birth mother when turned 18-years-old.
Richardson’s biological mother became pregnant at the age of 15 while living with her aunt in New Jersey who was a social worker. Seeing the difficulties Richardson’s mother might have with child rearing, she used her professional background to help arrange the adoption.
Adopted by another social worker in the same department who knew Richardson’s great aunt, she helped arrange a meeting of Richardson and her biological mother.
“My biological mother and I hugged, and she cried,” says Richardson, 47, of Philadelphia. “I smiled a lot.”
For years, Richardson’s adoptive parents — her mother was a social worker in the same state child welfare agency that handled the adoption — told her she could meet her biological family at 18.
“My sister, biological mother and I did not know what to say to each other,” she says. “It was like the three of us were related, but we knew nothing about each other.”
Despite that day being more than 29 years ago, Richardson never forgot it. Her and her biological mother have since launched a loving and complicated relationship that has evolved over time.
“Like all families, we continue to be a work in progress, there are ups and downs,” says Richardson, a licensed professional counselor and an assistant professor at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, whose work includes helping adoptees process relationships with their birth families. “But I think that is part of being a family. You keep working and growing with the people you love.”
Now with the widespread emergence of DNA testing more adoptees are electing to reconnect their biological parents resulting in roughly 9 in 10 domestic adoptions being open.
Acknowledging the potential for emotionally fraught and traumatic experiences, reconnecting with one’s biological parents is not always wise. Richardson said, “Everybody’s experience is different.”
However, for the individuals who have reconnected with their birth parents like Richardson, it has been one of her most rewarding life experiences. Something she continues to celebrate 29 years later.
Source: People Magazine