Friday night October 30th, I took my boys to the local high school football game. It was my youngest son’s big night to be a part of the high school game. He got to eat dinner in the high school with his teammates from the third and fourth grade football team. Then they got to go on the field and cheer the big high school players as they ran out on the field. To my nine year old this was like getting to see a professional football team up close. To him these guys are bigger and stronger than anyone he has ever seen. It was great to see him so excited about being part of the game.
His older brother went to socialize and study the female species.
Earlier in the day I was on-line having a discussion with another adoptee about searching for her birth parents. She told me she was able to find them and her siblings relatively easily. I mentioned that I was interested in starting up my search for my birth mother again and asked her where I should start. My fellow adoptee referred me to her adoption angel, Cher.
An adoption angel is someone who searches for birth parents and adoptees on a volunteer basis. Before I could respond I got an email back from my fellow adoptee stating she had spoken with Cher and told Cher I would be contacting her. On my way out to the football game I sent Cher, now my adoption angel, a message.
In the e-mail I advised Cher I was looking for my birth mother. I gave her what I believed to be my birth mothers last name, my date of birth, and where I was born.
The high school stadium is a five to eight minute drive away from our house. By the time I was in my seat at the football game, my phone was buzzing. I had received an e-mail. The e-mail was from Cher and she had additional questions. Answering the questions I quickly hit send and was getting excited about the possibilities. Cher sent an e-mail back in the next five minutes stating she had found a possible match.
Immediately, Cher asked a few more questions in another email. Cher wanted to know if I knew of any other children my birth mother may have had. I rocket back to her that I know my birth mother had children. I think three or four children and I know one was a girl. Cher was able to find three boys associated with who she thinks is my birth mother immediately.
My heart is pounding now and the loud football game that is 20 yards in front of me is a distant sound I can barely hear.
More questions and more answers flew back and forth. Each answer narrowed the search and the possible became more probable. Cher told me she was confident she had found my birth mother. As she dug deeper and deeper, Cher finds an obituary. My birth mother had passed away in 2003.
The football game that surrounded me went quiet. My internal response to this news was small. A few years ago, when thinking over the idea of looking for my birth mother, I contemplated and accepted that one outcome could be that she may have passed away. The news is not shocking and internally it was as if I already knew.
In her death came the last puzzle piece. In the obituary it showed she was survived by three sons and one daughter. The presence of a daughter brought us even closer. Cher wanted to know if I knew the ages of the children when I was born. Off the top of my head I don’t know but I knew at home with my non-indentifying paperwork sent to me by the adoption agency in 1988, it showed each child’s age. Once we know their ages we can match and pretty much confirm if this is my birth mother and her family.
It was only the second quarter of the football and I had to wait until the game was over to go home. The game is a blow out but both of my sons are off with their friends somewhere in the crowd. I knew how much they enjoy the Friday night lights; more for social reasons than football. We stayed for two more quarters in the rain as it feels like the time on the scoreboard was going backwards.
The game finally ended and I raced home to find my paper work. I e-mailed it to Cher. It was confirmed. The ages on my paperwork of my siblings matched the information Cher had found.
Cher was sending e-mail after email in rapid fire mode and it was hard to keep up with but I was happy. By this time I was starved for more information and Cher continued to shovel to me forkful after forkful of information.
In the assault of information, I got names of three brothers and one sister. The location of the cemetery where my birth mother was buried, pictures of the cemetery, and pictures of my birth mother’s headstone all arrived in the storm of information. The last piece of information was my sister’s address and phone number. Cher suggested I call my sister to see what she knows. It was close to 11:00 pm and the conversation with my sister would have to wait until the morning.
My wife, Shilease, had come home, by this time, and we read through the emails again together. We both sat in my office quiet occasionally remarking on how unbelievable all this new information is to us.
My calm reasoning side tried to convince my excited emotional side that this was not my birth mother. Shilease and I went over the information and compared it to the information I had from the agency in my non-identifying information letter.
The women we found has the same last name as the last named confirmed by the agency years ago. This woman’s age, that fact that she lived close to Detroit, where I was born, the number of children and the sexes of the children, all coincided with the information I had in my letter. The odds of this not being the woman were astronomical. Reason lost to logic and the hopes of my emotional side.
Friday night, passed by slowly. I slept for a few hours and then I was awake for a few hours. When I was sleeping, Shilease was awake. When Shilease was sleeping I was awake. It was like we were taking shifts watching the sun that refused to rise.
My dreams were monopolized by thoughts of my birth family’s reaction to me. I was the product of an affair my birth mother had with a black man and at the time of her death she was still married to her husband, the man she cheated on to have me. So the chances that the family knew about me were not good.
My oldest brother was 14 when I was born so he must remember his mother being pregnant. Shilease and I reasoned that the kids could have been told that I died during my birth. This is the most logical explanation and it is the one I excepted.
In the early morning hours, I played over and over what I would say when my sister answered the phone. “Hello, my name is Kevin Hofmann and I think we might be related,” is the opening line I settled on. Now if only the clock would move.
The stubborn sun finally rose. At 11:00 am, Shilease and I gathered in my office. I put the phone on speaker and hooked up my recorder. I wanted to record the conversation because I knew there is no way I would remember all of that was said.
I dialed the number, nervous but committed to force fates hand one way or the other. The phone rang and my heart was pounding like a church bell in my chest. A recording picked up. “This number has been disconnected or is no longer in service.” I dialed again and the recording repeated.
My body was tired from the anxiety and preparation and lack of sleep. Shilease went to work on the internet. She found my sister’s name on facebook. The woman she found lives in southeast Michigan, and is married to a John; just like in the obituary. Another probable match.
I sent her a message through facebook. My introductory line was the same as I practiced all night long. I explained what I knew about the family and give specifics from my information that she could verify. I asked her to contact me via facebook or by phone as soon as possible. Shilease advised me to express how long I had been looking for my birth mother and I kindly asked that the woman let me know if this was her or not.
Later in the day, I tried to watch football but ended up catching up on the sleep I missed out on the night before. As I was semi-conscious in front of the TV, my phone rang. I reached for it but didn’t get to it in time. It was a blocked call and the caller didn’t leave a message. The torture of not knowing haunted me on that Halloween afternoon. The rest of the afternoon I jumped when my phone rang or when I got an email. No contact came from my sister.
Shilease spent the afternoon doing more research. She found that since my birth mother had passed away my file at the adoption agency should be released to me. We ordered my birth mother’s death certificate and once the death certificate is received I should be able to present it to the agency and get my mother’s information released to me. The information should include personal information on my mother and all her children’s names. Then I will know for sure whether my sister contacts me or not.
A temporary road block is placed and Shilease doesn’t want to wait. I am resolved that the family never knew about me and at the very least it will take my sister several days to verify the information I sent her. Being closer to solving this mystery than I ever have I am happy to wait the four to five weeks. I only hope I have the strength to get Shilease through the waiting.