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Navigating the waters of adoption and reunion: What is my story?

When our first daughter was born I would stare at her for hours. This was the first blood relative I had ever met. Soon all the same old questions came back. It was time to start my search.

/Courtesy of John Glass

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John Glass is a graduate of Western Michigan University and has Bachelor’s Degree in Interpersonal Communications & a minor in Psychology. He is a Patient Services Coordinator with Meijer’s Specialty Pharmacy Services.

Learn more about Adopteees Connect GR on their Facebook page.


John Glass

John Glass /Courtesy of John Glass

Adoptees Connect - Grand Rapids

Adoptees Connect - Grand Rapids /Courtesy of Adoptees Connect

This piece was written by John Glass.

Growing up being adopted never felt terribly unusual. I had wonderful parents, a great sister, & an older brother who I idolized and was also adopted. To my parent’s credit, I always knew I was adopted. It was kind of like being right handed, or having brown hair. It was just “who I was”. What did bother me was the secrecy of a sealed adoption. What was my story? Why was I given up for adoption? Who were my birth parents? I mean you wouldn’t want to sit through a movie if you missed the opening scene right? It seems crazy that I can go to my bank and know everything about the bank teller who waited on me with a quick search on my phone, but I can’t find out the name on my original birth certificate. Sorry bank teller, but you get the point. It just never squared with me.

When our first daughter was born I would stare at her for hours. This was the first blood relative I had ever met. When our second girl was born it was the same thing. The sense of “mirroring” was something I had never experienced. Soon all the same old questions came back. What was my story?  It was time to start my search. Unfortunately I struck out with the standard documents I submitted to the State of Indiana (where I was told I was born). I struck out with Catholic Social Services, “Search Angeles”, and every online support group I could find, but had hit a brick wall. Finally I contacted an adoption attorney. I was assigned a “confidential intermediary” who would petition the court. This person would be allowed access to my information and contact my birth parents on my behalf, If they were still alive. If she found them they could still say they weren’t interested, and that would be it.

About a week before my birthday in November, 2015 I received a call. “I found her, and she’s very excited to speak with you.” I about passed out. By the end of that day I was on the phone with the person who gave birth to me, thanking her for my life, and letting her know I was fine. “That’s all I ever wanted to hear” she wept. Next to the birth of my children, it was probably the most incredible thing I have ever experienced. It turns out I was actually born in Chicago, and then brought back to South Bend where my adoption took place, and I lived until we moved to Grand Rapids when I was six. She lived in South Bend also, but was sent to Catholic Social Services in Chicago to have me so the neighbors wouldn’t know she was pregnant.  My birthfather had passed away, and they were never married. Suddenly I had about a ½ dozen new Aunts, cousins, and two new brothers that she had with her husband that she married about 10 years after having me.  Everyone was more than gracious, and extremely welcoming. One Aunt in particular was quite a colorful character. I’ll call her “Aunt Mary”.  For the next three summers we were invited to a lake house her and her husband rented.  This would serve as neutral place where we would all get to know each other. Aunt Mary was so generous to my family & I, and is probably the only person I know that can talk as much as my youngest daughter.

My birthfather’s side has also turned out to be an adventure in itself. It turns out I have two additional brother’s from two other women. So the three of us all share the same father, but from different mothers. I have fantastic cousins on his side as well, and was fortunate enough to bring my family to Oregon last summer to attend his brother’s 70th birthday party. My new uncle shared many stories about my birthfather and meeting him will probably be the closest thing to meeting my birthfather. My four new brothers fascinate me. We are all different, but I can see parts of myself in all of them. Nature vs. nurture I suppose, but there’s no doubt that they are my brothers.  

After all of this I sort of crashed. It was like coming down from a huge adrenaline rush that has lasted nearly three years. I lost focus. I had the sense that I couldn’t relate to anyone, and no one else really understood the enormity of what this has all been like for me. I literally felt like I had nothing in common with anyone.  Around this time I was contacted by my best childhood friend whose wife (an adoptee) had just found her birthparents and was experiencing very similar emotions. He told me about a new group in Grand Rapids called “Adoptees Connect”, and wondered if I might want to attend their first meeting. I was reluctant, but went. It turns out there’s a bunch of us out there!  Some in reunion, some not, some positive, some not, but good people just sharing their stories, and experiences.  I’ve been going back ever since and I really feel like my old “self” again.

Last week I attended my Aunt Mary’s memorial service in South Bend. She passed away unexpectedly at the age of 62. This was one more thing I didn’t factor into things when I began my search. I will never regret finding my story, and I’m grateful that a group like Adoptees Connect exists as we all try to navigate the waters of adoption and reunion.

I would like to dedicate this to my Aunt Mary, my birthmother Patti, and most of all, my Mom who has been nothing but supportive along the way.



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