Sometimes when I say, “I am an adoptee” I find it hard to believe. At times I feel completely normal, at other times I feel completely lost.

Before my birthmother found me, I always thought a reunion would make me feel more whole. Six years have passed since our reunion. At times I guess I do feel whole, but then something will bring me back to reality. I have a feeling of wholeness that I never had before, but now I also have feelings of being a person with two lives. I guess that is reality. I am Grace Ann and I am Joni Kay. Six years after reunion, my struggle goes on.

When someone asks me who is my mother, I feel like the orphan I once was. My decision to answer, “I have two” isn’t difficult because it’s true. When I have the urge to “go home”, I pull towards my adoptive mother. She had the privilege of being there to fix my hurts, rock me through my illness and listen to my heartaches therefore she is the one I turn to when I need to be comforted. I have attached to her like only a child can attach to its mother. She is my mother.

When I have an intimate thought on a subject to discuss with someone who will understand me the way no one else I call my birthmother. She understands me like no one else can. I was patterned after her long before anyone knew I existed. I am of her, she is my mother too. I hope as an adult, that she is and always will be my friend too.

When I am with my adoptive family there is and always will be pain for me. These are people I’ve grown up with and people I love dearly. They are my “Mum and Dad”. They are my “brother”, my “cousins” and so forth. Sometimes I wish they were “my family” life would be much simpler. It would be nice to look like them, laugh like them, think like they do and enjoy the Oak Ridge Boys, but I don’t and I never will.

When I’m with my original family there is pain for me too. These are the people I look like, laugh like, think like and who also enjoy Carly Simon, but we are strangers to each other in many ways. I can’t spend 18 years living with and loving only them. I don’t know all the family history and I never will.

All of this makes me very sad from time to time. I love everyone in all my families so very much. They are my joys in life, but they are my sorrow too.

If I had one wish in my lifetime it would be to be whole again. It would be great to have “family loyalty” mean something to me. It would be nice to never feel guilt, to never feel pulled in any direction, to never again have to say, “I have two mothers”, but that is one wish will never come true.

The wonderful thing about my life is that this curse is a blessing too. Most of the time I don’t think of myself as Grace Ann or Joni Kay, just as ME. God has blessed ME and I also get the privilege of loving all of those people too.

There are many struggles to being an adoptee as well as for those who are birthparents. There are many new emotions a person who has been found must deal with, just as a searcher does. My message to birthparents out there that are searching is “Never, never give up, never be discouraged by talk of disrupting an adoptees life. Our lives were disrupted long ago.

My message to birthparents out there that have had reunions is “please be patient with adoptees”. Integrating our families is a very difficult and scary thing to do. We love you so much but being adopted is so hard. For all the pain reunion has brought to me it’s given me 100 times the joy. Pain is part of life, and I will be the master of the pain in my life. I guess I want people to know that reunion doesn’t make one whole again and it doesn’t end the pain, but reunion changes our lives and makes the pain easier for some of us to bear.

My adoptive parents and my birthmother visited with me this past summer and autumn. With each visit I experienced much love, fun and learning. When either of them left to go home again, I felt overwhelming feelings of aloneness, insecurity and wondering whom I am. I guess it’s a struggle I’ll always have, but it’s one that’s now okay with me.