Meet Sean. He is an incredibly approachable man who radiates compassion with a quick smile and contagious laugh. As a counselor, he helps people struggling with mental health; as an accomplished musician, he explores his own experiences artistically. 24 years ago, Sean was adopted through Adoptions Together, a program of Paths for Families. His amazing story is a testament to the importance of having support every step of the way.
Sean’s adoption journey started when his birth parents made the difficult, loving decision to place their child for adoption. With the help of Paths for Families, they met Sean’s future adoptive parents and knew that the match was perfect.
Growing up, Sean always wondered why his birth parents chose adoption instead of parenting. These common feelings are very real and often result in a feeling of abandonment. For Sean, his curiosity was never about replacing his adoptive family, who he loves very much. It was simply that his birth parents are a part of him, and he wanted to learn more.
As a teenager, Sean experienced a mental health crisis and wondered if there might be genetic connection. Reading about his birth parents’ medical histories, he began to connect the dots. Sean’s discoveries were validating and provided clarity that helped Sean and his family work through his challenges. It was an experience that gave Sean a burning curiosity about this part of his journey.
“These facts shaped my vision of who they might be. They seemed, in ways, a lot like myself—creative, extroverted… I remember learning those things and just crying in the office. It was overwhelming in a good way.”
With consistent support from his Paths for Families social worker throughout every step, the journey has been one of wonderful growth. One of Sean’s cherished memories was a conversation with his birth father. They had shared pictures and letters, and set up a phone call which would be the first time Sean ever heard his birth father’s voice:
“It was breathtaking. He accepted me and I accepted him. We just got to know one another, and we made plans to talk again soon or to meet in person. A few weeks later, I got a phone call from my Paths for Families social worker with the very sad news that he had unexpectedly passed away. While it was devastating news, I am just so grateful for that one conversation, getting the chance to have had it. And being ready for that emotional roller coaster was so important.”
With the support of his social worker, Sean found himself at the funeral of a birth father he’d only gotten to have one conversation with. He was sitting next to his social worker in a room filled with biological relatives who had no clue who he was. But for Sean, there was so much good to be found. The phone call with his birth father showed him how impactful expanding his idea of family could be, and Sean knew how many opportunities for connection lay in store for him.
Since that emotional day, Sean has successfully reconnected with his birth mother and aunt. He also got to meet his older sister who was adopted by another family. Interestingly, she also happens to work in mental health. He has finally learned the answer to his question of why his birth parents chose adoption, and how their personal struggles with difficult mental health issues led them, with guidance from their families, to find Sean a loving family who could provide him with stability.
Just as adoption is not a one-time event but a lifelong experience, our support for families does not end after adoptions are finalized. The process of reconnection provides clarity and opportunity for adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive families. Each connection has helped Sean discover more about himself and has brought beautiful new relationships that will continue to build, and he knows that his family and Paths for Families have his back as he follows his heart.
Every step of the way means that we are always there for our Paths for Families community. We were there for Sean before he was born and continue to be there for him more than two decades later. With robust counseling and training programs and critical support services 24/7, Paths for Families builds families and ensures that they have the resources to thrive.