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Adoption Blog: Improv Mom

Interview with Lucky Bastard Filmmaker and Adoptee, Elijah Thomas

Elijah Thomas was adopted at three months old and grew up in a closed adoption. When he was 18, he met his birth mother for the first time. When he was 23, he showed up at his birth father’s door unannounced. What’s more, he filmed it and made a documentary called Lucky Bastard.

Growing up, Elijah knew he was and felt loved by his adoptive parents. Even so, he couldn’t shake the deep-rooted sting of rejection from his unknown birth father. “From what I understood, my birth father wanted no contact with me,” shares Elijah.

For Elijah, and many adopted persons, the question that tortured him was—“Where was my say as the adopted child?

Documenting his search and initial contact with his birth father gave Elijah his much needed say and a sense of peace.

Here’s more from Elijah…


What did your adoptive parents tell you about your birth dad?

Not much. Honestly, I don’t think they were told much other than the fact that he probably would never care to contact me.


What did your birth mother tell you about your birth dad?

When I first met my birth mother at age 18, I stopped her from telling me about him because I could tell it was awkward for her. Also, I didn't feel emotionally ready to know about him. It wasn't until recently, as I began making this documentary, that we spoke more about him. In Lucky Bastard, I actually first learned that he initially wanted to abort me on camera.


Does your birth father’s story reflect what you’ve been told by your birth mom and adoptive parents? Did his perspective reveal anything new about why you placed for adoption?

Funny you ask that. It's actually one of the main points in Lucky Bastard; when I ask John face-to-face about the abortion, he completely denies it. It was almost as though I were hearing two entirely different stories. It was unsettling. I also find out that he was married with two other children at the time when I was conceived.


Do you feel your adoptive parents and birth mom worried about your meeting your birth dad for themselves, or for you?

When I first met my birth mom, I think my parents were very afraid for themselves. But this time around, meeting John, they were definitely afraid for me. My birth mom has done an AMAZING job at putting her life together. I do think at first she was a bit leery of her youthful mistakes being publicized. She knew that this was going to be made into a film. But she also was worried for me big time.


What is your relationship with your birth mom like today?

She's one of my best friends now, and really is like a second mother that I never understood I had. I visit her for a few days at least twice a year (we live in different states). We talk on the phone at least once a week. And we text constantly. Like every day. She's the one who initiated this kind of communication over the years. She was persistent. I could tell it meant a lot to her. And it actually means a lot to me, too.


How did your adoptive parents support you during your search? How did your birth mom?

It wasn't just a search; it was a search that was being documented. I couldn't believe they agreed to be on camera—that's real love! Same with my birth mom. She also told me his name, which I hadn’t known before.


What has contact been like with your birth father since your first meeting?

He has sent me one text since then.


What kind of future do you envision with your birth dad?

In Lucky Bastard, I realize as I'm interviewing John that there probably won't be much of an effort made for an enduring relationship. Which is OK. There are no hard feelings.


In what ways has meeting your birth father affected your life? What did meeting him satisfy in you?

I think a lot of adopted children with excellent adoptive parents often feel guilty and aloof when they think or wonder about their biological parents. This was actually causing quite a rift between me and my family. Now there isn't one. Just gratitude.


How did you prepare yourself for possible rejection from your birth father? Did you have some sort of plan in mind?

There was no plan. In my opinion, he had already rejected me, and was still rejecting me as long as I felt he was ignoring my existence.


How long did wait before telling your parents you wanted to find your birth father? What did you go through during this time?

I waited about one year, and spent that time kind of suffering in silence. Visiting my birth mother and seeing the happy family and life she was able to create for herself once I was given up for adoption made me feel like I was a mistake.


Do you think you would have felt like a mistake to this day if your birth father had rejected you again?

John was very kind to me. He agreed to be interviewed and to a part of the documentary. However, in the long run, he definitely has not accepted me to the same degree that my parents and birth mom have. So, some might say I was rejected again. And yet, since then, I just feel lucky.


Did you ever wish that your parents took it upon themselves to track down and make contact with your birth father when you were young? What are your thoughts about this?

Great question! It's interesting, I think that I am personally more in favor of open adoption now. Closed adoptions are often just postponing inevitabilities. We live in an age of information. If you don't think that your adopted children are smart enough to find their biological parents as soon as they want to, think again! All it took me was a name, an account on, three days in Atlanta, and a little bit of luck.


What would you tell adoptive parents who are worried about opening contact with birth parents?

If you raise your children with the purest love you can, listen to them, and do your best to be open and vulnerable with them about your feelings, you have NOTHING to be worried about. I promise that we love you RIGHT BACK! We are yours. You are ours. Always.


Elijah’s 38-minute documentary, Lucky Bastard, is available for purchase on Vimeo. You can reach him by email or through his YouTube channel.

Elijah Thomas is a 24-year-old actor, musician, and filmmaker. He is currently an open major student at BYU. His claim to fame is his performance as Lord Voldemort in the YouTube viral video “Dark Lord Funk.” He believes that as long as communication, love, and trust are implemented in an adoption from ALL PARTIES, the adoption can be successful.

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Barbara Herel

Barbara Herel

New York

I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
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