Surprising Reunions

Holly Shearer and Benjamin Hulleberg

Benjamin’s birth mother, Holly, was only 15 when she gave birth to him. When she was 6 months into her pregnancy, she began to search for adoptive parents for her baby. She feared that she would not be able to provide adequately for him.

Benjamin was given up to Angela and Brian Hulleberg on the day he was born, which just happened to be Thanksgiving Day in 2001. His adoption was never hidden from him and his adoptive parents talked to him about his biological mother.

Like many adoptees, including my own adoptee mom, Benjamin had always had a deep desire to meet his birth mother. He searched for her for many years. He’d written letters to adoption agencies of Utah, had his DNA tested and registered with the adoption registry. Nothing came of his efforts.

Like many birth mothers, Holly cared deeply about the baby she had given up for adoption and did a google search which found him on Facebook. 2 days before his 20th birthday, she took a risk to message him on Facebook – “You don’t know me but 20 years ago I made the hardest decision of my life and placed my beautiful little baby up for adoption with a beautiful family.”

Like many birth mothers, she was concerned about disrupting her son’s life, yet she simply wanted him to know that she had thought about him every day of his life. So she admitted that she finally found the courage to send him a message. She simply wanted to wish him a happy birthday.

When Benjamin saw the message, of course he wanted to meet her right away. So, they planned to have dinner and agreed that both of their families should be there to support them. On National Adoption Day, his wish became a reality. He discovered he had 2 half-siblings and that he was actually working at the same hospital that his birth mother worked at.

His mother is a medical assistant at the heart center at HCA Healthcare’s St. Mark’s Hospital. Hulleberg volunteered at the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. She notes that “Every morning, I would come in through the women’s pavilion to come into work. So, I passed right by the NICU every single day. We parked in the same garage, could have been on the same floor, had no idea that we were so close.”

After their reunion, Benjamin moved in with his mother, Holly. He also shares a coffee break with her each day before his shift in the NICU. He will leave soon to attend school in another Utah town.

~ today’s story courtesy of The Huffington Post.

Impact Of Adoption On Health

Every adoption is unique and every situation is different.  There have been well studied impacts on mental and emotional health for an adoptee that other people in the general population are less affected by.  Most have to do with a sense of abandonment or rejection.  No matter how much the adoptive parents try to convince their adopted child that they are “special” because they were “chosen”, nothing seems to shake that initial feeling of having been unwanted or not wanted enough for the original parents to work things out.  This is mostly a child’s perspective because they lack the mature experiences of life that most adults acquire.

My dad (both of my parents were adoptees) often accused my mom of being a hypochondriac because of her constant and evolving health problems over the long decades of their marriage.  They were married over 60 years at the time of my mom’s death.  I never judged her that way.  She did have a LOT of health problems from her heart to her kidneys to her pancreas and beyond.  She had a intervention scheduled for a blockage in her esophagus pending when she died just a few days before.

I am a believer in mind/body health implications.  I do believe my mom suffered from low self-esteem.  There is no way to know for certain whether her adoption had an impact but given her belief that she was stolen from her parents and then denied her adoption file and told at that same time that her mother had already died, denying her once again the reunion she desperately desired, there is a good chance that her mental/emotional state of being played a role.

Statistics tells us that 80% of visits to primary care doctors are the result of emotional distress.  Stress kills.  My mom had several interventions for her health beginning younger than I am now.  First a bypass and then angioplasties and stents.  My mom died of a massive heart attack that no one could have saved her from quickly enough.  The coroner said it was instantaneous and thankfully that she didn’t suffer.

Sadly there is a lack of financial incentive for doctors to prescribe stress reduction instead of surgery, drugs or other expensive medical procedures.  I continue to do battle on that front with my own doctors for my own best health as I age.