The door bell rang and my legs turned instantly to noodles. Trying to balance and walk on thick noodles is impossible. Fortunately the door was not far away. I opened the front door and on my porch stood my sister holding a Poinsettia, standing next to her adult daughter. We immediately hugged and just held each other. The sister that had the same birth mother as me was squeezing me and I was squeezing her back. I have waited 42 years for this meeting.
In the three days leading up to this hug I worked hard at trying to understand what this meant. It was hard for me to conceptualize what it would be like to meet someone from my birth family. I spent a lot of time trying to get my mind to understand this was a blood relative. Convincing my mind this was more than seeing a friend I hadn’t seen in many many years was very difficult.
Throughout the days prior to our meeting I kept telling myself, “Your sister is coming in two days.” “Your sister will be here tomorrow.” This is a hard concept for me to understand. Since I have never known a blood relative older than my oldest son this is an intimidating concept to digest.
My broad range of emotions prior to our meeting was exhausting. There were moments I was very excited, moments were I was very confused as to what I felt or should feel and one moment of panic.
The moment of panic came about 30 minutes before the door bell rang. I sat on my living room couch watching my football team, the Detroit Lions, struggle with portraying themselves as a professional team. I was hoping the Lions would distract me from the emotions that were wrestling in my stomach. For a brief moment, I questioned why I was doing this. For a brief moment, I concluded this was a bad idea. For a brief moment, fear invaded and came close to over throwing my common sense.
I pushed the fear to the side and tried to concentrate on the interception-fest, sponsored by the Lion’s quarterback, that was going on inside my TV.
By the time the doorbell rang excitement had pushed fear back and excitement was staking claim to the territory inside my stomach.
When I hugged my sister I was happy. We both whispered in each other’s ear how long we had been looking for each other. It was evident this was a coveted meeting from both sides.
We all sat down at the dining room table and began to share our lives with each other. My wife, her daughter and my parents joined in the exchanging of information.
My sister showed me pictures of my birth mother. My birth mother’s baby picture looked like my baby picture. My sister shared stories of my birth mother and I was captivated.
Then my sister told me something that took me back a few steps. She shared my birth mother never put on make up or did her hair after I was born. Although my birth mother never spoke about me my sister said she could easily tell she thought about me. Only once, in a quiet moment with my sister, my birth mother simply wondered out loud if the decision she made were the right decisions. My sister knew exactly what she was talking about.
For years I assumed my birth mother gave me up and never looked back. Now I learned that giving me away changed her; giving me up for adoption changed her daily routine and she worried about me. This was heartbreaking and comforting at the same time. The decision to give me up was not as casual as what I thought and that was great to know.
My sister also told me she was able to find a good friend of my birth mother. This friend drove with my birth mother when they dropped me off at my foster home. The friend explained to my sister that my birth mother cried and sobbed as they drove to my new home. This friend actually held me before I was turned over to my foster mother. I now had a physical connection with someone. Even more comforting is the fact this friend is still alive and anxious to meet me. The thought that someone who held me is around to help fill in some of the blanks was great news.
I shared with my sister a photo album that my wife and I put together the night before. The album was full of pictures of me from three months old to the present with pictures of all of the important moments in my life. It also contained poems I had written when I started this search 21 years years. We gave the album to my sister and then had to help her stand. Her tears flowed and now she was standing on noodles. The album shows the life I had and helped to reassure her that my life turned out alright.
Our sharing and laughing and talking and crying ate up time quicker than I would have liked. My sister had to leave and I wished that she could have stayed. She told me she would call to let me know when we can visit my birth mother’s friend to find out what she knows. My sister over the last two days was able to narrow down who my birth father may be and was able to provide a possible last name. She assured me she has several people search through old address books of my mother hoping to find something.
Before she left we took several pictures together. One picture we quickly printed out and added to the album.
After she left and the house was momentarily quiet , I exhaled. Meeting my sister was a great experience and I look forward to building a relationship with her.
The nicest thing about yesterday was the healing that took place.
I was able to see the healing that took place inside my sister. For many years she was the only one of the siblings that knew about me. (Our three brothers, found out this week when my letters to them arrived.) For many years she wondered if I was alright and for many years she shouldered the burden with my birth mother wondering if our mother made the right decision. After meeting my parents and looking through her photo album she seemed at peace.
I saw the healing that took place in my parents. For many years they’ve wondered if I would ever connect with my birth family and how that would play out. We were able to share this meeting together and I saw the peace that came to them in this meeting.
My wife, who has been next to me in the front car of this roller coaster, was able to be a part of this meeting. She was able to see her hopes and dreams for me met. My wife, my biggest supporter, seemed at peace.
The answers I got today and the beginning of a relationship that will find more answers gave me peace. Internally, I am still sorting out what goes where and still saddened by the fact that I can’t get these answers from my birth mother, but yesterday was a great start to my complete healing.
Finally, the thing I am most excited about is that I like my sister. In the few days leading up to the meeting, a fearful thought struck me. What if I finally meet her and I just don’t like her? Then what do I do. After our meeting yesterday this is one less thing to worry about.