A DNA surprise discovery can take a while to sink in and depending on your choices, this could be the end or beginning of a much longer journey. Though, even if you choose to not pursue more family information, it isn’t really over is it? As a NPE my first thought was, are there any others like me who I can relate to? The answer was and still is yes and the number is growing! There are numerous online groups filled with information and experiences about others and their NPE journeys. It’s also important to note that these groups abide by confidentiality (as is reasonable) and some have a brief interview process, similar to what someone would experience in being screened for group therapy.
In my first month as a new NPE, I found these groups to be critical in my healing as they contained considerable amounts of useful information, most of which already spoke on feelings or similar thoughts that were running through my own mind. I also found that when I posed a question on the group page, it was instantly answered by multitudes who could relate or had already gone through what I was experiencing. These groups are amazingly helpful and encouraging through the ups and downs. For this, many thanks can be given to online support systems for the NPE population. These interactions build a sense of community and can help in cautiously developing a plan for how you might contact new biological family. I found that through the experiences of others, I was able to understand the best to worse possible outcome. It was then that I had time to think, consider, and pray before deciding a step of action. I also felt comfortable knowing that no matter what happened, there was a group of people who could relate and offer encouragement.
A unique aspect of a large online group concerns the array of generations that are accounted for. Upon entering a group you can notice that the range varies but you will mostly see Millennials through Baby Boomers. These different generations add insight to the group from their own timely perspective and experience. I believe that this allows for a richer accumulation or body of knowledge. However, I also found it helpful that there exists sub groups such as a Millennials only page and others for the segment of lifespan you’re currently in. In sub groups, you can find those who might be more similar in experience due to their life stage development. There’s a lot to be said for going through something like this together and with others in your generational realm. Things are sometimes different (generationally speaking) as to why a NPE secret might have been kept. My thought is that this experience within your own generation, also helps in understanding and bonding to community. But too, there is much gained in experiencing this alongside everyone coming together as a whole. Sage wisdom and advice abounds more so when experienced as a collective. Remember, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!
So, why community? In community we find common ground and when working properly, safety and support. Support is crucial in navigating through the unknown and knowing that someone is there to listen, celebrate, encourage, and mourn with you. These aspects help when grieving ambiguous loss or when depression sets in. One example of community support that I experienced was when I posted a picture of my biological father and half siblings who I recently found. Next to their pictures was a picture of me. I asked the group if they could see similarities. To my surprise, there were tons of replies where others affirmed similarities in our appearances! I found this to be greatly encouraging and it pushed me to seek out my new family and see if I would be welcomed. This was just one of many instances where the group helped me in my own experience. Overall, concerning this specified community, I have found my experience to be beneficial. I’ve had others bear the burdens of my sadness, encourage me when I wanted to give up on the next step, and even more rewardingly, ask me for my help as others came into their own DNA surprise discovery. The process of seeking out and becoming a part of the NPE community brings healing and in time, brings greater satisfaction as we are able to contribute toward helping others. You aren’t alone, even if you feel like the odd one at the moment. There are others out there and all you have to do is send a flare and they will come.
In writing this, it is also on my heart to remind others that there is potential for hurt within a group as well. Groups are made up of people prone to err, myself included. If we can remember to show grace as one giving advice/opinions and as those also receiving, we will be better off in the long run. As the NPE movement has grown and developed, so have others who wish to capitalize in a sense of notoriety. In my opinion, this is unhelpful concerning what possibly lies at the core of motivation. When this occurs, what was originally started for helping others connect, then comes at a price. There is a hierarchy of power and significance that is sought and overtime the concentration moves from “we” to “me”. Let us be thankful groups exist, but also let us remember that it isn’t for praise that a group should be formed or interacted within. We are all in this together. This is our collectively and equally shared experience. Healing from a group perspective begins with “we”.
If you are in need of counseling or just have questions please reach out. Also, for facebook group support please look into some of the groups listed below!
Here are four group resources for those searching for other NPE’s to connect with.