November has many things to be thankful for (gobble, gobble), but it is also National Adoption Awareness Month. An entire month dedicated to raising awareness for the mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents and others who choose to love their adopted babies, big and small.
Two amazing people adopted me several years ago when HIPAA laws were not so strict. My mom received a phone call at home from the supervisor at the hospital where she worked. Her supervisor told her that a baby girl had been born and had not been signed to an adoption agency. My mom and dad needed to decide right then and there if they wanted me.
Within 72 hours the lawyers, social workers and judges signed off on all the papers. On Wednesday of that week the adoption lawyer took me to the front steps of my parents’ home and delivered me into the arms of the two people that made the selfless choice to love me. Of course, I was a pretty cute baby!
I’ve always known I was adopted and I’ve always felt that this is an aspect in my life that makes me special. As a family we celebrated my “gotcha day” every year. (It’s awesome having two birthdays with presents). Regardless, I wrestled with wonder, questions, and feelings about my adoption. Growing up, I always told myself that my birth mom loved me so much that she wanted to give me a better life. It had to be true, right? Why else would someone give away a baby?
This past March I began the crazy journey of contacting and reuniting with my biological past. The only information my parents had was the name of the woman who gave birth to me and the man that fathered me.
I like to live in the areas of black and white where things are cut and dry. What I learned next was a whole lot of grey. It is something I never expected and a feeling I will never forget…
My biological mother had died when I was young. I never knew her, but her parents were still alive. In her obituary it said she had died of cancer at age 30. What?! Age 30? That is so young! Was there something I was missing in my medical history? Sometimes I get headaches…do I have brain cancer? I’ve had a sore throat before…do I have throat cancer??!! (Do not look up symptoms on WebMD…do not look up symptoms on WebMD….do NOT look up symptoms on WebMD…)
I needed to know what kind of cancer killed her, so I contacted the newspaper that printed her obituary…nothing. I contacted the funeral home that buried her…nothing. I had to call her parents, but there was one problem. My birth mother had never told them that she had me…
I found a phone number listed for my biological grandparents online. The phone rang for a LONG 30 seconds, and I was about to hang up when my biological grandmother answered the phone. I told her that I was her daughter’s daughter, whom she gave up for adoption several years ago. She asked me if I knew the name of my biological dad. I said yes and told her his name. She shouted from the phone, “…it’s ___’s daughter.” They knew about me!
My biological dad had called when I was 21 looking for me and told them the story of my adoption. They hadn’t known for sure about me or whether he was lying for several years, until I showed up confirming the story. During our first phone call I asked them my medical history questions and received the answers I needed. I also inquired whether their daughter had had any more kids. Did I have any siblings? They told me no. We decided on a time and date to meet in person.
On the day we were to drive the 4 hours to meet them, my husband, son and I all packed into the car. We made it about two blocks before I had the meltdown of all meltdowns. Why didn’t I wear waterproof mascara? I was nervous and anxious. I anticipated my life changing now that I would have answers to a lot of the questions I had been thinking about for my entire life.
After a long drive we arrived on their front doorstep, ready to look face to face with two people who shared my genetics and it was…anti-climactic. They answered my questions as best they could. They fed us lunch. We talked about work and the weather.
After lunch my biological grandmother asked me to come into her office and promptly shut the door. She handed me a large manila envelope and said “I didn’t know whether I should tell you about this or not, but I think you have a right to know.” Inside that envelope was a picture of a handsome man and a sticky note that read: this is your brother.
I looked at her, looked at the picture, looked back at her, looked at the picture, looked at her…she nodded, and I looked back at the picture. I closed my eyes and cried. (The kind of cry that only happens when you feel overwhelmed and completely caught off guard.)
I wanted to ask her so many questions about him. Was he alive? Was he okay? Did he go to a good home? All she would tell me is that he liked to run. He was a runner? The only reason I would run is if a lion was chasing me, or towards a really good cheeseburger. I missed those genes somewhere…
The curious, sneaky side got the better of me and I snooped around for more pictures of him in her office. Eventually I found one on her desk with his name on the back. It was a picture of him and his parents from Christmas. He looked to be 8 years old.
About an hour later we said goodbye and got in the car. I made my husband pull over about 3 blocks away and told him about my brother. As we resumed the drive home, I spent a good chunk of time typing his name in the search engines on Google, Bing, and Facebook…then I found him!
I waited to contact him until I got the blessing from my biological grandmother, which took a tortuous 2 months. In the meantime, I followed him on Facebook. I looked at every picture, memorized his face, compared our similarities…just in case I were to see him in real life then I would recognize him.
Throughout those two months of anxiety I emailed back and forth with my biological grandparents several times. We wrote about work, the weather, and dogs. I didn’t tell them about my snooping or that I already knew my brother’s name and had seen all of his public pictures on Facebook. We set up a second time to meet.
Upon meeting with my biological grandparents the second time we got into a heated conversation. In her frustration my grandmother blurted out, “It wasn’t just you and your brother. She had four kids; you’re the third!” I was shocked.
On that Sunday in September I learned about my other 2 siblings. The next day I contacted my younger brother and older sister. You see, I grew up an only child. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that my biological mother was the same biological mother to four kids. Never did I think that I would have more years in a lifetime with siblings in it than the years I spent without. And never in my life did I think that I could feel a magnetic love for two people I barely know.
During this time I also met my biological Father. He and his whole family welcomed me into their lives. It’s an interesting feeling having another family claim you for their own when you feel so connected and defensive of the family that raised you…another topic for another blog, another time.
As my husband and I embark on the journey of adopting a child, please say a prayer for us. You never know how things might turn out; but then again, it might be just what you need.
Well played God, well played.
*Special thanks to our Guest Blogger, who wishes to remain anonymous, for sharing her story with us!
*Images courtesy of Microsoft Stock Photos