I was placed for adoption at birth. Growing up, I was told about the adoption as soon as I was old enough to grasp the concept of being a ‘chosen baby’ (name of a book my mom read to me). It wasn’t a big deal, and thought I was accepted into both sides of the family like any other kid. My parents (what I call my adoptive parents, since they’re the ones I knew growing up) made sure I had everything I needed, as well as a lot of ‘extras’ (music lessons, sports lessons, trips around the country, trip to Europe, etc). And yet, there was the natural curiosity about where I came from, and who was ‘out there’ that was my biological family. My parents were aware of this, and always told me that once I turned 18 or 21 (I forget which), they’d help me find my biological mom (or bio-mom as I refer to her on paper… I need to come up with something better… bio-mom makes her sound like some type of bio-fuel). I call her by her first name in person, and with people who know me; I do respect her privacy by not naming her in posts.
I was encouraged to do a search when I was 19 by a psychiatrist I was seeing for eating disorders. He thought that if I felt like I’d ‘come from somewhere’, I’d feel more secure in general. I’m not so sure about that, but I did want to find her. The adoption agency was contacted, and with two phone calls, the social worker had her on the phone. He explained that her wishes would be respected if she didn’t want contact, but she did. We began writing and exchanging photos. I was so excited to learn about her interests in photography, animals, and that she played the flute (I did, as well). I was thrilled to hear that I had half-brothers. She was still in contact with my bio-dad, and shared some information with him. Both of their situations were complicated, and he didn’t feel comfortable writing, but he saw photos, and I found out I also had half-brothers on his side. My bio-mom and I wrote for a while, but it was hard to just jump into a relationship (for both of us, actually).
She’d gone through hell during the pregnancy with me, mostly being shunned and shamed by her immediate family, and being sent across the country for the sole purpose of ‘giving me up’, staying with her aunt, uncle, and cousins (it was more complicated than that, but that will work for a blog post). She wasn’t given a choice, and didn’t feel she had any options. She never wanted to give me up, and back then, the biological fathers didn’t have any say. She was almost out of high school when I was born, but for decades, having in illegitimate child was something that was dealt with in cruel ways. It was felt that ‘it was for the best’, or (mostly) ‘what will the neighbors think?’ were more important than the impact that giving away a child would have on the two who created that baby. My biological parents had dated for years. They stayed really close friends until his death from cancer in the 90s.
Anyway, during the time we had contact when I was 19, things were getting more complicated, and she let me know she needed some time, but that if I had ANY questions, I was free to contact her. She never cut me off completely, but I felt like giving her time and space was best. If it meant that I wouldn’t have contact for years, and that it was best for her, that was gonna be OK. I did have periods of time when I was frustrated with not having ‘general’ contact, but I understood that she had more people and situations to consider. I had a lot of my own ‘stuff’ to work out, which became much more intense after I was raped a few months later, so I really wasn’t in a great place to build a new relationship at that time. It probably worked out for the best that we both took the time we needed to get some things ‘settled’.
I moved to Texas before and during this general period of time, and had contact with the aunt and uncle she’d stayed with during her pregnancy with me. The first Christmas in Texas, I got to meet the cousins in that family, which was amazing. There were times when we were talking, and I’d say something… they’d all get quiet, and finally one of them would say “You sound JUST like __ (bio-mom)!”. 🙂 I got close to one cousin in particular. We’ve stayed in contact since that Christmas in 1985, seeing each other whenever she was in Texas, talking on the phone, e-mails, and my visit out to her and her husband’s home in 1986.
Fast forward (I’d been back in my hometown for 8 years, not in Texas) to the period of time I was on chemo for leukemia. My prognosis was generally quite good, but being an RN, I know that things can go wrong. Complications can change things in a heartbeat. I decided that if something should go wrong, I didn’t want my bio-mom to get a call telling her I’d died without the option of reconnecting before that. I wrote her a letter, deciding that whatever her decision, it was going to be what was right for her, and that was what I wanted. As it turns out, she was ready to reconnect. I had been talking to the cousin I’d been close to for years (bio-mom’s first cousin) when the call waiting clicked, but I decided to finish the conversation with my cousin, and figure out who had called after that; I didn’t get a lot of phone calls. When I hung up and checked the call log and saw my bio-mom’s name, I freaked (in a very good way !). I immediately called my cousin back and told her who had called, and she told me to call her after I called my bio-mom back ! She was excited, too !
I was elated and nervous to talk to my bio-mom, but something that had never happened in 48 years happened. I heard her voice. It was on October 30, 2010… coincidentally on the last day I had the arsenic chemo. When she answered the phone, it took about two seconds to feel comfortable talking with her. I don’t remember how long we talked, but long enough to do some catching up, and some general interests type of stuff. We also agreed that we wanted to keep talking on a fairly regular basis.
The next Spring (2011), she came to visit. We met for the first time, and had fun getting to SEE and hug each other, and taking photos (which I won’t post out of respect for her privacy… her friends and family all know about me, but throwing it all out there for the world is different 😉 ). She and my dad met; my mom had died in 2003. My mom would have loved to meet my bio-mom.
That summer, my cousin (bio-mom’s first cousin) and my bio-mom surprised me when they BOTH visited ! I’d known my cousin was coming (we hadn’t seen each other in about 13-15 years or so), but after she’d been inside for a few minutes there was another knock at the door (VERY unusual for me to have two people here in a MONTH, let alone a few minutes), and bio-mom was at the door ! We had a ball for the next few days. They brought me a laptop and all of the accessories and a digital camera. The laptop has been my primary source of social interaction; prior to that I had no way to interact besides the phone, as my other computer had croaked at least a year earlier. The computer has been a life-changer, not only with social interaction but with the ability to have things delivered as it’s become more difficult to shop and drag things inside from the car. They showed me YouTube, iTunes, and some other fun stuff, and I found Facebook a few weeks later.
With the computer, I’ve been able to have contact with my biological dad’s family (his brother, and a cousin), as well as extended family on my bio-mom’s side… I don’t have a family tree. I have a family tree farm ! And it’s great. (I’ve started doing genealogy stuff on Ancestry.com, and I literally have five trees going). The next summer (2012), I got to meet my maternal (half) brother, which was wonderful (and I really like him- not just care because we’re related- he’s a fun guy ! ). I’ve messaged my paternal half-brothers (who are considerably younger), but so far no contact with them, and that’s OK. They found out about me after their dad’s death (by many years), so I’m sure it’s all a little weird.
I’ve listened to my other maternal (half) brother’s recorded music sessions, though I haven’t been able to listen to all of them; he died in 2000 (I’d been told back then what had happened, and it destroyed any possibility of ever meeting him, even though I wasn’t in contact with my bio-mom at that time). Since getting their elementary school photos in 1983, I’ve had them on my dresser (they’re still there). They’ve always been close to my heart, and when A died, it was really hard, even though I didn’t even know if he knew I existed. I later found out that he did. But it’s still too hard to listen to his voice, knowing he’s gone. I’m able to talk to my bio-mom about him more now, but sometimes I still just cry, remembering the day I got the e-mail telling me he was gone. I couldn’t stand the idea of my bio-mom going through that when she’d been through so much (more than I’m writing). I have some great photos of A, as well as the brother I’ve met.
Since that first phone call, my bio-mom and I speak at least weekly, and we sometimes have ‘marathon’ calls lasting for hours. We have so much in common, and our general interests are very similar. How we dress, our views on ‘dressing up’ (clean t-shirt, or if it’s really fancy, a woven top :p ), sense of humor, and other things are so, so similar. It feels great to know where I get some of my preferences and traits- even though I never knew what she liked/disliked until we started talking regularly (the letters had some general stuff). There’s absolutely no awkwardness when we’re together.