I was extremely anxious about being with my birth family for the first time. I didn’t have any idea how to act or what to expect from them. I was excited, nervous, and terrified all at the same time. Adding to my stress were the images in my head of tearful reunions I had seen on television. What if I didn’t feel the same level of emotion towards them as they did to me? Well, when I finally met them, I was pleasantly surprised. My fears subsided quickly, and there was no dramatic scene. It just felt like being home. The feeling was similar to visiting an old friend I hadn’t seen in a long time rather than a new family.

It’s been a year and a half since I reunited with my birth family, and I still don’t have all the answers on what to do or how to feel about certain things. I had to find my place in the new family dynamic. I’ve had to find a balance for the right amount of contact. I take responsibility for keeping everyone updated on what’s going on with my sons. I put forth a lot of effort to keep up with birthdays and such. That’s something I personally feel is important. Just tonight I was picking out a birthday card for one of my sisters. Most cards mention childhood and growing up together. It’s the same with cards for Mother’s Day. I think holidays will always be different.

I live about eight hours away from the rest of the family. I still get really nervous when my birth family comes to visit, even though they have been here many times before. I don’t know if that will ever change. I’m not sure if you ever get to a point where you are completely adjusted. It’s an ongoing process that evolves over time.

For more on search and reunion, visit Adoption.com.

Ashley Foster is a freelance writer. She is a wife and a mother of two, currently residing in Florida. She loves taking trips to the beach with her husband and sons. As an infant, she was placed with a couple in a closed adoption. Ashley was raised with two sisters who were also adopted. In 2016, she was reunited with her biological family. She advocates for adoptees’ rights and DNA testing for those who are searching for family. Above all, she is thankful that she was given life.