LDS 23-year-old Elijah Thomas from Orem, Utah, recently met his biological father for the first time, and caught the candid experience all on film. Shortly after his birth, Thomas was given up for a closed adoption, meaning he could not contact his biological parents until 18 years old.
Thomas always felt curious about his birth father, wanting to know who he was and his side of the story. Although he met his birth mother when he was 18 and developed a good relationship with her, he still wondered about his father.
“From what I understood, he didn't want any contact with me. But I didn't feel it was right for someone to have a child and just get to ignore that fact for the rest of their life,” Thomas says. “I think adopted children often suffer in silence about these things. We grow up loving our adoptive parents and, in the process, this curiosity can eat at us and even make us feel guilty for wanting to understand the big picture.”
Growing up, Thomas’s desire to meet his birth parents grew stronger, but he struggled to know what to do about it and felt increasingly guilty for feeling like he was a "mistake."
“It's extremely important for adoptive families to be encouraging and sensitive to this desire,” Thomas says. “This desire may not exist in EVERY adopted child. But when it does, we don't want to hurt ANYONE. Families will ultimately grow closer as they communicate, and implement this level of trust.”
Last year, Thomas decided, against the wishes of his adoptive family and birth mother, that he would find and meet his birth father, alone and vulnerable. Thomas ultimately found where his birth father lived and visited him without prior notice in his home in Atlanta, Georgia, in September of 2016.
Thomas walked up to the door and knocked. After what seemed like a lifetime of waiting, he heard a muffled voice from inside ask who was there. Once he mentioned his own name and his birth mother’s name out loud, someone answered the door—it was his biological father.
They exchanged greetings and brief words and then his father realized who he was seeing. Speechless, they hugged and his birth father said, “It’s good to see you.” Later, his birth father expressed how amazed he was that his son wanted to see him and said, “I’m not the person that I want you to see. It’s just a great thing to see you. Had we been together, you and I would be good friends.”
The two of them have not talked a lot since meeting, but for Thomas, it was a kind of closure that helped him release some of the inner turmoil he had for so many years. He says there are no hard feelings between them and they wished each other the best.
“After meeting my birthfather, I feel more a part of my [adoptive] family than ever. I see the big picture, and it's had a lasting effect on me,” Thomas says. “I feel very lucky. I no longer feel like some mistake that was made 24 years ago.”