Rebekah Henson shares her story of growing up as an only child, then discovering she was one of seven biological siblings. If this sounds at all familiar, I actually interviewed Rebekah’s older sister Mary Anna King on season one, episode 7. Rebekah is incredibly open with me about the challenges of such a complex reunion. We also dish on all the awkward and completely inappropriate things people have said to us about being adopted. We also chat about the adoptee rights movement and adoptee advocacy and activism.
Topics We Discussed
- Adopted via private adoption because her parents were infertile; their adoption agency told them they were too old (mid-30s).
- Rebekah is one of 7 siblings who were adopted in a variety of ways: one sibling group in-family adoption (grandparent), two only-child adoptions, and two sisters were adopted to one family
- Closed adoption, but some early contact with biological family. Mary Anna actually got to hold Rebekah for a brief time at a church service - this seemed to spook Rebekah’s adoptive parents and they stopped attending that church.
- Baby M Case - surrogacy court battle; extended family members would discourage the adoption from taking place.
- Rebekah adoptive mom told her she had some siblings (after a school incident in grade one!) and later gave her photos of her bio family.
- Her adoptive mom encouraged, yet dissuaded search; would talk about her bio-family yet put them down. A real push and pull here.
- Searching at age 16 - Rebekah was given her original birth certificate; lots of imagining and even writing letters to her siblings.
- How Rebekah was found by her older sisters, reunion during college.
- Meeting them in-person for the first time, a few siblings at a time. It took ten years (in 2015) to all be in the same place at the same time.
- Going from thinking you have 4 siblings, to finding out there are 6; the journey from imaginary people - photos only - to real live people.
- “Going from the people I imagined to the people they actually are was an interesting journey of discovery for me.”
- 7 siblings, 5 different sets of parents.
- Going from being with siblings as one person, to returning home and being back to other Rebekah with her adoptive parents.
- The disappointment and a feeling of betrayal finding out her birthmother placed with so many different families.
- All the awkward things people have said to us about being adopted. “Why didn’t your parents use birth control?” “I wish I was adopted!” “Who are your ‘real’ parents?”
- Talking about the four families at Rebekah’s wedding, commemorating with a photo.
- We do a deep dive of adoptee activism in the recommended resource section.
- Rebekah’s sister Mary Anna’s episode in season one: Season 1, Episode 7: Mary Anna — Adoptees On
- Betty Jean Lifton: Journey Of The Adopted Self: A Quest For Wholeness, Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience, Twice Born: Memoirs of an Adopted Daughter, NY Times article
- Donaldson Adoption Institute, Understanding Options Counseling Experiences in Adoption, Understanding Options Counseling Experiences in Adoption: A Qualitative Analysis of First/Birth Parents and Professionals - The Donaldson Adoption Institute, Born in June, Raised in April (April Dinwoodie’s podcast)
- Adoptee Rights Campaign and their Facebook page
Connect With Us
- Rebekah Henson: Twitter | Instagram | Medium
- Haley Radke: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Adoptees On: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook