“Adoption Discovery—I have a brother and two sisters?”

Adoption Detective | Judith Land

I daydreamed about the brother and sisters I had never met. Fervently hoping to be reunited with my biological siblings some day, I decided to clarify my thoughts in writing. I placed a bouquet of flowers on my desk, gathered my favorite stationary and fountain pen, settled into my favorite leather chair and composed a letter to them.

When I discovered the identity of my biological parents I was elated to learn that they were married to each other. I was even more wide-eyed and over-joyed with the discovery of a brother and two sisters; a serendipitous outcome that I had never anticipated. I had been raised as an only child in a quiet neighborhood with nobody to share my thoughts and secrets with other than my surrogate dolls, my dog Toby, and my neighborhood Lilac Sisters. My father was never home and my adoptive mother was a somber individual who attended church every morning and spent her afternoons painting in solitude. The interior of our house was dark, lifeless, shadowy and wraithlike and reeked of the unpleasant smells of oil paints and turpentine. The idea of a household filled with the voices of other children, raucous laughter and gaiety was a new image of a family that had been completely lacking in my youth.

I was wildly enthusiastic about meeting my siblings but I was uncertain if I would ever be given the chance. I had a major decision to make about how to approach them. Should I obey my birth mother’s desire to keep my identity secret from her other unsuspecting children to protect her reputation as she had requested, or should I defiantly disobey her wishes and brazenly reveal myself to my siblings against her will? I sat by the window quietly absorbing the view of the verdant mountainous hillside towering above me as I weighted the alternatives. I could feel the tension leaving my shoulders as the ever-increasing heat from the warming rays of the early morning sunshine pierced the windowpane. I was tired of internalizing my childhood fears and fervently looking forward to a fresh new chapter in my life. I was eager to overcome my apprehension and the pitiful negative feelings genealogical bewilderment had caused me. I paused to gather my thoughts and daydreamed about what the future might hold. I filled my fountain pen with ink and placed the tip on the stationary. The words I was seeking flowed out naturally.

“My lovely sisters and dear brother, I am your prodigal sister returned from a hapless life of isolation in the wilderness. When our parents were very young I was abandoned due to the unfortunate timing of my birth and left to independently find my own way in the world with the hope that I would be offered a better life by someone else. I unconditionally forgive them for everything that happened to me. I am happy and healthy. I do not regret my youth. My childhood can’t be recaptured and my past experiences are history. The future is what is most important to me now. In my new life, I serendipitously look forward to the highest achievement any adoptee from a closed adoption can ever experience—the pleasant discovery of a positive self-identity based on “truth” accompanied by an internal joy and sense of belonging that is beyond expression. The three of you are very important to me. I fondly look forward to eventually reuniting with you sometime in the future. I am the happiest girl on the planet today. I send my fondest regards and all my love. Your sister, Judith Ann.”

How do some of the rest of you feel about adoptees meeting their siblings?

Judith Land


Adoption Detective





About Judith Land

Judith Land lives in Colorado and Arizona with husband and coauthor Martin Land. Judith is a former nurse, retail shop owner, college instructor and avid outdoor person. Her book "Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child" is a true story detailing the journey of Judith Romano, foster child and adoptee, as she discovers fragments of her background, and then sets out to solve the mystery as an adult. She has reached readers in 192 countries. "Mothers and fathers everywhere in the world need to understand that children are forever and always." --Judith Land
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14 Responses to “Adoption Discovery—I have a brother and two sisters?”

  1. catfishmom says:

    Judith, I had the pleasure of meeting my half sister at the age of 46, soon after I met my father. She could not have been nicer or more welcoming. I want to know her better and I feel as though she would like to know me, but she is a busy executive with a son with autism, and I am a mother of 4. She has graciously shared “our dad” with me and seems to have little jealousy, although I know she must have some feelings about it. I also have a half brother whom I have spoken with over the phone. He was a very nice guy and we had a wonderful 30-minute conversation…he has his own secrets, and I don’t know if we will ever meet, but I would like that very much. I feel a kinship of sorts with both my siblings and love my dad to death. My family has been nothing but welcoming…a dream of mine since I was 5 years old has come true.

    • Judith Land says:

      Catfishmom. The emotional depths and turmoil of solving an adoption mystery and successfully connecting with relatives takes tremendous courage. The experience is often equally troubling and euphorically exciting. Learning the truth can be sobering for many adoptees, but removing the shackles of secrecy can also provide emotional relief from the childhood troubles that haunt us. With age and maturity comes wisdom and a clearer vision of the past and by the time most adoptees reach young adulthood they often think of their parents with growing wisdom and in the spirit of forgiveness. Friendships often take a long time to develop and must be cultivated to succeed. I am very happy you have found someone to confide in and share your expanding and interesting altered life’s journey. Judith

  2. Despite never “finding” or having a relationship with my birth father, i sought out his eldest daughter, my half sister. She lived on the other side of the country and had no idea I existed. Over the years I have found this relationship not to be without it’s unique set of difficulties, but definitely more neutral, equal and free of strange obligation or feelings than any relationship I could ever hope to gain from our birth father.

    • Judith Land says:

      Kimberly, I am happy for you. Thanks for sharing. Learning something about other family members and their history is often quite interesting whether this information comes from parents or others. It is difficult to tell initially who will provide the most help; siblings, cousins, aunts and other family members often turn out to be good contacts that can provide insight into past relationships, activities and interests, and family history. Most friendships develop slowly over a long period of time and often have to be cultivated. Thanks to Google translate, it is even possible today to develop friendships with remote relatives living in foreign countries who don’t even speak English. I say this from personal experience. Life’s trajectory for adoptees is often very interesting and intriguing to others that is why adoption stories have so much appeal in all cultures for people of all ages. I hope you have many positive experiences and continue to share your experiences with others who can also benefit from your advice. Judith

  3. I found my birth brothers and sisters. It really was like coming home for me to see people that looked like me and they remarked at how much I acted like “Aunt Pearl” and how my mannerisms were so like another sister. I am now geting to know my family at age 60 and I have never felt so comfortable with anyone else in my entire life… except for my own children. I have 2 brothers and 2 sisters and 2 half sisters and 2 half brothers. And a gazillion cousins since my dad was the youngest of 16. I got to meet a few cousins on my last trip back to our home state and would love to go to a reunion or something. And a nice man in England has a family tree on my fathers side that goes back to 1750 or so. I am content. Finally.

    • Judith Land says:

      Dear Cathy J. Thank you for sharing your serendipitous adventures. I never get tired of hearing about positive reunions. I am am very happy for you. There is something special about meeting others who are intuitively familiar. The feeling of belonging and being connected with others is a very emotional and powerful experience that triggers many positive psychological responses. Knowing something about our ancestors, where they came from and what motivated them, is helpful for developing a true sense of self. Stories of adoption resonate with people of all ages in every culture. For that reason, I hope you continue to share your experiences with others who can benefit from your knowledge and wisdom. Judith https://judithland.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/adoption/

  4. averycn2007 says:

    Hi Judith,

    I was reading your post today. Wow!!! It made me inspire!!!! I myself am adopted. I would like to share with you, I did wrote Non-ID form and mailed it in Albany about couple years ago. I received from Adoption Registery for Non-ID information. They said they don’t have information about me. I puzzled it and little bit disappointed in that. I realized that I should put my former last name was Gibson into Adoption Registery for Non-ID information. Do you think I should get Non-ID form again? Should I put my former last name was Gibson, maybe they might find information from my former last name was Gibson instead of not my current last name is Avery?

    I did took Ancestry DNA test 2 months ago. I received an email about couple weeks ago from Ancestry DNA, unfortunately, they said my DNA test was not enough and it was not correct. They wanted me to re-take it again. I supposed to re-take it. I was so sick from pneumonia about several weeks ago. I will plan to re-take Ancestry DNA test again sometimes this month.

    Please advise me. Thank you for your time. Hope to hear from you soon. Have a blessing day!!!! 🙂

    • Judith Land says:

      Soulafrosistaz, The process of searching can be very simple for some individuals and extremely difficult, or even impossible, for others. There is no obvious solution for everyone but registries provide an excellent tool for many seekers. Open adoption and open records management have become more acceptable and popular in recent years. Internet websites have greatly increased the size and quality of the databases. In your case, you many benefit from talking with someone in person to get some advice directly from the service agency as to how to clarify discrepancies in names and spellings and gather other suggestions and helpful tips. In my extended family, more than one brother changed their surnames, so even within the same family tree there are different spellings of the last name. Confusion also exists when individuals use nicknames, abbreviations or middle names instead of their given names. Married names also vary from maiden names and this becomes even more confusing when an individual divorces and marries more than one person. DNA testing provides new and very exciting possibilities for connecting with ancestors, building pedigrees, and learning interesting facts about our true self-identity, gene pool, culture, language and place of origin. DNA can also provide highly valuable medical information that is useful for doctors. When it isn’t possible to locate close relatives through normal channels because they are deceased, living in a foreign country or speak other languages, knowledge about our ancestry gained through DNA testing can be especially enlightening. Enjoy the search. I wish you luck. Judith

  5. flrpwll says:

    Funny. I was thinking way back to when I was 7, and younger. I was obsessed with pregnancy, and couldn’t stop looking at any pregnant woman I happened across, and I had a habit of telling random people that my mother was pregnant.

    Now that I do the maths, it was all around the time that my biological mother was having my 3 older (but younger than me) half siblings.

    Turns out that I have 3 half brothers, and 3 half sisters, from my maternal side. My childhood could have been a lot less quiet and orderly.

    I also have a half-sister, paternal, but she has no clue I exist.

    • Judith Land says:

      Your ancient memory rouses the passions of the heart, captures the imagination and provokes the wisdom of the intellect. Age three is about when memories finally begin to stick with us for a long time. The image of your mother that remains frozen in your mind reminds me of the movie “Somewhere in Time” a point in time never to be forgotten. Your memory of her is both real and intuitively recorded in your mind as a survival mechanism and a way to recognize her. Your memory is very strong and it remained unbroken even after separation. Where to go from here is what we’re often most afraid of doing, even if it is the very thing that will set you free…keep us informed.

  6. michelemel says:

    Judith, I must first ask, did you ever send the letter? It appears that you wrote this 2 yrs ago…? I am in reunion with both of my half sisters- maternal for 10 yrs, paternal for 4 yrs.y maternal sis knew of me, as our bmom had told her when sis was 21. My paternal sis was found through 23andme, which landed me my entire, previously unknown paternal side with her match! My younger sis was adopted by our aunt and uncle when she was 4. My paternal sis was only with our common bdad for a few short yrs before her parents divorced, and he went on to remarry 2 more times…and I was conceived during one of those marriages. So, the question: Did my siblings accept me, and do we have ongoing relationships? YES! ♡
    I believe that this is due, in large part to the fact that all bp’s were deceased by the time I found my famity of birth. Yes, that was a sad fact for me, but in meeting so many other adoptee’s, and hearing their stories, I know how trepidatious those relationships can be- the birth mother’s fears of being outed can outweigh her relinquished “child’s” need for reuniting with her own siblings. 😦
    So, yes…my reunions are wonderful, heart-warming, informative, self-identifying, and with us all in our 50s+, secure. I would not take any of it back, and SO thankful to finally have people in my life who make me feel connected to the world! Again, I know that because my bp’s had passed, I did not have to face the possibility of losing a relationship with my birth mother, simply due to her feeling the need of secrecy. I hope and pray that you have made that connection with your siblings, and that your birth mother was able to overcome her…self. ♡

    • Judith Land says:

      Thank you for asking. I wrote many letters before, during and after my adoption search that provided therapeutic relief from the pressures of reality. I mailed the most appropriate ones and saved the remaining letters in my personal files. I wrote to my mother and father, siblings and several aunts and cousins. My mother rejected me at first but a life-changing vision from God told her to let go of the burden of fear and doubt she had hidden under a cloak of secrecy for thirty years. After this breakthrough incident occurred we were suddenly no longer opposed. The doors to our cages were miraculously flung wide open. We united together in harmony as mother and daughter. I was absolutely euphoric during our reunion. Metaphorically, I was standing on the summit of a majestic mountain peak and the panoramic view was magnificent. My energy level was sky-high. My fast-streaming consciousness was in overdrive. The planned homecoming as my birth parents prodigal daughter was a glorious experience to be wholeheartedly celebrated. Our focus was not to dwell on the past. Our goal was to establish friendly relations and build a positive future based on unconditional love. Our reconciliation took place sitting in a pew in the back row of a church. We hugged, held hands, shed a few tears of joy, and made our mutual peace together in unison. I felt like a shaggy dog in a Walt Disney movie lost on vacation in Yellowstone National Park who returns home exhausted and thirsty and ready for a comforting nap in front of the home fireplace. The experience was serendipitous—everything I had ever imagined in my childhood dreams eventually came true.

  7. andybee68 says:

    Similar story to yours except welcomed with open arms. Birth Parents married 20 months after my birth and 3 brothers, 1 sister. Met them when I was 21. (27 years ago) Lots of mixed emotions, power struggles, regrets and sadness over the years but generally accepted as part of the family.

    • Judith Land says:

      Dear Andybee, I’m very happy for you and enlightened by your connections. When we meet someone that strikes a cord in us, we tend to remember them because they seem inherently familiar and connected to us in some mysterious and intuitive way, often because we remember something similar or because we shared similar experiences and things in common. We find others interesting when we feel connected with their lives and ways of thinking, and when we remember them the experience triggers feelings, memories, and emotions, the same way that songs, music, and poetry resonate in our heads and hearts. If someone strikes a cord with us, it generally causes us to agree and approve of them, which causes us to react sympathetically. When this happens we continue to think of them often but it is up to us to determine what happens next and decide if a relationship will flourish or wilt from a prolonged lack of attention. Friendships don’t usually happen all at once—they must be cultivated. Relationships between people are the same as flower gardens; they both require a large amount of effort and attention in order to thrive. When they are cultivated the results can be amazing, even if the flower grows from an ancient root the flowers of spring are themselves a new and precious gift to the world. This means staying loyal and cultivating trust, not being afraid to show your vulnerabilities, appreciating other’s individuality, and remaining curious, honest, and kind with each other. It means being generous and grateful. Laughing is an important aspect of relationships that helps to clear the air and lighten our mood. Life is really hard for many individuals who have experienced separation and loss, and when we find others that we can cut loose with and laugh until we cry, it is good for the body and soul. Never forget that today is a gift—that is why it is called the present. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Judith

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