Adoption often leads to a much happier life for children. Whether their birth parents are unfit to care for them, unable to care for them, or dealing with other untoward circumstances that could be preventing them from thriving as parents, adopted children are given a second chance at life with families that are both willing and able to give them everything and more.
With these unique stories, though, often come cases of burning curiosity.
It’s estimated that just over 60 percent of teenagers who know they were adopted want to find a way to meet their birth parents, but even more simply want answers. Nearly three-quarters of those teens have cited a desire to understand why they were put up for adoption, while over 90 percent—nearly all adopted teens in the study by Adoption.com—are curious which of their birth parents they more physically resemble.
Jen Wicki was given up at birth, living with a foster family for the first three months of her life.
Wicki was finally adopted after those months, and she grew up with a loving family—but when she found out she had been adopted at age 7, she said she felt “devastated and lost.” She “didn’t know what to do with those emotions,” after growing up in her early years assuming her parents were hers by blood.
That began her search to find her birth mother.
She didn’t begin her quest at age seven, but the questions were there from the moment she found out about her birth.
Wicki said she wanted to know all about the family she had never met; did she have siblings? Did she look like her birth mother? What would her life have been like? What was her mother’s life like?
She constantly observed the people around her, “hoping to catch a glimpse of someone” who could be her mother, or brother, or grandparent.
Her official search began in her early 20s, when she started signing up for online registries to try and find her mom.
Years went by without answers, as Wicki found herself at dead end after dead end. She spent a full two years combing through DNA and ancestry sites, going as far as to get her DNA tested and put out ads in the paper in hopes that someone was looking for her as well.
“I was convinced no one was looking for me,” she admitted—and although that didn’t stop her quest, it certainly didn’t make it any easier.
She ultimately had to work her way down from a great-great-great grandparent, finally finding someone online whom she believed was her birth mother.
Elated after years of searching, Wicki painstakingly wrote out a letter to her birth mom. She didn’t fill it with questions, accusations, tears, or even elation; for now, all she wanted was that initial point of contact to see if the woman she had found was truly her real mother.
If it turned out she was right, the two could arrange a meeting and catch up on what was over 30 years of lost time.
She thought she had come to a dead end weeks later. The letter, which she had so painstakingly worded and sent off with crossed fingers, had been returned to sender; while her supposed birth mother did indeed live at the address she had sent the letter to, the woman living there had refused to sign for it.
Wicki was heartbroken, assuming she was getting turned away once again. After getting left by her mother 37 years prior, she believed that the woman she’d written to wanted nothing to do with her—especially after she sent a follow-up letter, only to have that one returned, unopened, as well.
It was at that point that she considered her next options. Should she leave the questions unanswered? Or should she keep trying, hopefully getting through to her mother and finally arranging that long-overdue meeting?
She didn’t get a chance to answer the questions on her own, though.
Not long after the second letter was returned unopened, Wicki received a Facebook message.
It wasn’t from her mother, but it was close—the message was from her birth sister, and it nearly broke Wicki’s heart.
The message explained that, as Wicki had started to suspect, her mother was indeed receiving the letters and returning them unopened. What Wicki didn’t realize, though, was that her mother wasn’t ignoring her out of dismissal or anger; instead, it was out of fear that her daughter, given up so many years before, was truly angry with her.
“I thought it was going to say ‘leave us alone,'” Wicki shared online.
“I was too anxious to comprehend what she had written, but I saw the words ‘my little sister,’ hardest decision of her life,’ and ‘always loved you,'” Wicki remembered.
Now that Wicki had found her, her mother wanted to be the one to initiate contact, hoping that she could convince Wicki to put away her anger and meet with her face-to-face instead of casting blame.
Given that Wicki, of course, had no desire to berate her mother, she quickly agreed to meet—so she packed up her family and drove thousands of miles, all the way to Georgia.
That’s where she finally reunited with her mother – and found out who, exactly, ‘she got her looks from’. Giving her up had been “the hardest decision” Wicki’s mom had ever had to make; but luckily, in the end, they were reunited again.
“It was so surreal it feels like it didn’t happen,” Wicki said.
Now she finally knew where her roots were, and she finally knew who she looked like.
“Then we spent the rest of our trip having a blast!”