Finding My Father: One Adoptee's Story and How Adoptive Family Can Help

By April Guffey

June 3, 2024

Meet April Guffey, a former foster youth, adoptee, and now an adoption coach for adopting families. She shares her unique perspective through her experiences as an adoptee.

Searching for birth family and navigating reunion is a roller coaster of emotions, and April shares her journey to finding her birth father and how adoptive families can help support their adoptees through reunion.

“Richard doesn’t have any kids…” My heart sunk. Here I was again, so close to possibly finding my birth father, and it looked like I had struck out once again. I wasn’t sure if I could keep looking.

Let me back up. I was adopted at the age of two, taken straight from the hospital at birth to a foster home, due to my birth mother’s loss of custody of her previous children. I was placed in the foster home my half- sister was already in, and they adopted us a few years later. No one knew who my birth father was, but my adoptive parents were very clear with me growing up that if I wanted to try and look for him, they would help and support me.

There was a man’s name on the court paperwork terminating my birth mother’s parental rights. My sister looked him up on Facebook when I was 18, and found him! I messaged him who I was, and he said he knew my birth mother, but the timing of my birth didn’t seem to add up to when he was in contact with her. But he was willing to do a DNA test, and I was on pins and needles waiting for the results. I had an amazing adoptive father, but there was a hole inside of me only a birth father could fill. I wanted to know where my green eyes came from, and what my grandparents looked like and what my medical history was, just to name a few of the questions circling my brain regularly.

That negative paternity test crushed me more than I was expecting. I didn’t realize just how much I had hung on finding my birth father, and having him fill me in ways a human could never. I vowed I couldn’t handle looking ever again, because the negative was just too much to bear. I closed that chapter, convincing myself I was okay not knowing, and moved on.

Hardships in life and becoming a mom catapulted me into therapy, where finally some deep healing occurred. I realized I was relying and waiting on a birth father to come be everything I needed, and my inner child’s happiness was so dependent on this mystery man it wasn’t healthy. As I healed, I realized I would be okay even if I never found my birth father, and I started to truly appreciate the many family members around me that loved me as their own, even though we shared no blood relation.

My Mother in Law got our family Ancestry DNA kits one year for Christmas. Even though I had healed, I tucked the tests away in a cupboard, still convinced I just couldn’t handle looking for my birth father again, in case another let down occurred. A few years later, after having my second daughter and healing some more, I decided to go for it. This was going to be my last shot; if I didn’t find my birth father through Ancestry, it just was something that wouldn’t be fully healed this side of heaven. And for the first time in my life, I really felt at peace about that.

I still remember the exact place I was sitting; my friend and I were shopping downtown when the cousin I had connected with on Ancestry messaged me. We had already gone through each one of her uncles, and had ruled out every single one as my possible birth father. I had come to peace, and had moved on. Or so I thought. My cousin messaged me as I was sitting in a shop, waiting for my friend to try some clothes on. She asked my grandma’s name, my birth mom’s mom, and said her uncle remembered having relations with her daughter. Sure enough, the name my cousin gave me was my grandmother’s name…I shouted more curse words in that store than I had ever said before. I had found my birth father.

My birth father and I have gotten together four times now; he’s come to visit us 3, including making it out for my college graduation, and we have been to visit him. He is the kindest and sweetest man, and my three girls absolutely adore their Grampy. His wife is so supportive of our relationship, and I’ve met aunts and uncles. I now know what my ancestors look like, and half of my medical history, and my dad and I are very alike. It’s crazy to see the power of nature vs. nurture in real time, and I will never stop being thankful for the gift my birth father is. He holds a place in my life no one else can, and because of the healing I’ve done, I can truly enjoy our relationship.

The search for my birth father was exhausting. It brought up questions and insecurities of mine and shone a bright light on them. I had to work through those, and realize I was okay if I never found my birth father. It was hard that all the work of searching fell on me; my adoptive parents knew nothing about who he could be so I had to do all of the emotional work of trying to find breadcrumbs to lead me to him.

So, adoptive parents, how can you make your adoptees' search for birth family easier?

Gather as much information as you can about your adoptee’s birth family, and get/stay in contact with as many birth family members as you can. Initiate contact with as much birth family as you can while your adoptee is small, so they don’t miss out on years of life together. Most importantly, be supportive of your adoptive child in their search but also in the cultivation of relationships with their birth family. My adoptive dad’s response to me finding my birth father was, “The more the merrier!” and he acts that out regularly. There is no competition, and no making me feel like I have to choose, but a true welcoming of everyone. And that’s the only way it should be.

April Guffey April is an adoptee and former foster youth, but also an adoption coach, mom of two, military wife, and daughter of Jesus. She uses her lived experience to educate, empower, and inspire everyone connected to adoption. She has a passion for supporting prospective and current adoptive parents, and by doing so, advocating for all adoptees. She strives to be a safe place for all who have been affected by adoption to come and experience mercy and healing.