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Archive for the ‘Searching For My Birth Mom’ Category

He missed out on 42 cards and 42 ties.  He missed the day I took my first step, said my first word, hit my first ball, dated my first girl, married my first(and only) wife, had my first two(and only two) kids, and I’m not sure he even knew the opportunities he was missing.

My biological father had an affair with my biological mother, a coworker.  My mother had me, gave me up for adoption, and never said anything else about me or their affair.  I am not sure he knew anything about me, although working with a woman you had “relations” with and seeing her stomach swell would cause some concern, you would think.  The beauty of the mind is it can create connections, make up stories, and absolve us of any responsibility.  Since my biological mother was married, who’s to say the increase in belly circumference wasn’t due to her husband.

So maybe he didn’t know or didn’t want to know.  After all, my non-identifying information that I received from the adoption agency tells me he already had children of his own from his own marriage.  Therefore, maybe he already had enough ties, saw enough first steps, heard enough first words, witnessed enough first dates, weddings, grand kids and opportunities.  Why would or should one more mean anything?

Because it was mine.

Over those 42 Father’s days, I can’t say I thought a lot about my biological father.  That statement does not come from a bitter corner of my heart and is not said to inflict retaliatory pain.  It is said honestly and matter-of-factly.  The emotion that should be connected to this person was never planted so it never grew and that is a shame.  Every now and then I run back to that little patch of heart-space where that feeling should be hoping the beginnings of something will show; hoping a small, tiny, curled up leaf will be breaking through the flesh of my heart right next to my right coronary artery or from underneath my left anterior descending artery.

Logically, it makes sense.  How can I feel a connection to something I never had a connection with.  But hope and the fact that so many have that connection to their biological father  makes me stroll by that place straining to see the first sign of growth from this germinating seed.

Nothing.

This week I reached out to test this absence of feeling.  I wrote a check and signed the paperwork to begin the process of locating my biological father.  Since his co-worker/my biological mother never shared with anyone his name, no one but the adoption agency knows his name.  To get his name, that was typed out clearly by a manual type writer and added to MY file that I can’t get access to,  I had to petition the probate court of Wayne County, Michigan to allow access to MY file.  Once that was done,  the court gave access to MY file, to a court appointed intermediary, an unrelated third party, who will open my file, get MY biological father’s name and begin the search.  Although, the intermediary is appointed by the court, she is paid by me.  Last Wednesday, I wrote the check and signed the agreement to move forward in this unjust process.

Now I wait and calculate and strategize.  I calmly run through possible scenarios like a pilot would run through a checklist prior to a flight.

If he’s alive and willing to meet, request a meeting.

—–If the meeting goes well…

—–If the meeting doesn’t go well…

If he’s alive and unwilling to meet, hope shrivels and dies; the heat too intense for survival.

—–Hope could still live in another relative that wants to meet.

If he’s dead, request a death certificate, search for an obituary tied to the name that is now released because dead people can’t object to their privacy being violated.  In the obituary search for names of relatives and reach out to them; knowing I maybe the one who has to tell someone their father, brother, uncle, cousin had an affair 43 years ago.  Request a meeting.

—–If that meeting goes well…

—–If  that meeting doesn’t go well…

The possibilities branch out like roots from a tree moving and sprawling in every direction; over and back, reaching and clawing for room to grow.

My hope is that through the stress, as I plod forward in a mechanical and logical way, a connection to my DNA will water and feed that small dark and cold place in my heart.  My hope continues. From the stressful search, I will find someone who looks like me, acts like me, and someone who will accept me; be excited to find me. Someone who was looking for me. Someone who…

Hope quickly grows into fantasy as it has since I can remember.  As a child, the thoughts of who I came from rode on my stream of consciousness and this simple question evolved in to an elaborate secret fantasy.  A fantasy that over the years got pushed further and further in to that dark corner because no one shared it with me.  No one came looking for me.  No one spoke about it in my home. I assume because they thought it would bring up too much pain. But ignoring my reality probably created more pain than was ever tied to this small seed. So I danced alone with this elaborate secret fantasy for many years and as most children do, I grew out of the need for this imaginary relationship;  frustrated with a relationship that only took and never gave.  I filed it away but occasionally I would return but never spending much time with it.

Now I’ve come to a point where I just want it resolved.  I want a real story and not fantasy.  The unworthiness that attaches itself to adoption tries to convince me I don’t need this or I shouldn’t be entitled to answers.  But my ever-evolving,  I-deserve-more-attitude pushes through to find more of me in those answers.

The unstoppable ball is in motion and soon the answer will come and I’m not sure how I will respond, if at all.  Maybe, I’ll find him alive and he will want to meet and at that meeting,  I can give him a Father’s day card and 43 ties…

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DON’T MISS OUT!  My two webinars are now available to listen to at your convenience on your computer.  Check out the link to the right at the top!

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Inside my plastic mailbox in front of my house, with the little red flag sticking up, is my application for a Confidential Intermediary.  Since I was born in Michigan, and my birth mother never signed a form to allow me access to my information, it is assumed she didn’t want me to be able to look into my own file.  It is important to point out that she never signed anything period but the courts have decided that the absence of any form translates into no access.  This ruling has already denied me the right to meet my birth mother.  When I located her, on my own, I was 6 years too late.  She died before I could find her.

She also died without ever telling who my father was so my only option at this point is to play by the rules of the Michigan court system.

The rules are simple.  I first must request a confidential intermediary via the application that sits in my mailbox waiting to be picked up.  The filing fee is $20.00.  Once  the Wayne County clerk gets my application they will then assign my case to a confidential intermediary(CI).  The CI will then contact me and this person has been authorized by the courts to charge me $250.00 plus expenses.  Once I send the CI my check, the CI will then go in to my file, get the name of my birth father and their search begins.  The CI will locate and contact my birth father.   If my birth father says he isn’t interested the process is over.  I lose my $250.00 and I get nothing in return.  The identity of my father remains a secret and the right that every other US Citizens has; to know their birth parents, is denied.

The frustration that fuels that last sentence is indescribable.  The fact that I have been denied what so many take for granted makes me want to march up to Lansing Michigan and sit on the capital steps and scream until I am heard.  The futility of doing that stops my march before it begins.

If my birth father is interested in meeting me then he gets my contact information and I get his.  In this process, I have to be willing to go all-in.  I have to push my poker chips to the center of the table and surrender to the process.  There is no option to just get the information on my birth father.   This is a decision I struggle with off and on.  There are days when I want to meet, and there are days when I don’t.  But there is never a day I don’t want to know his name and  know something about him.  Taking the leap to know him is terrifying.

The last scenario I am faced with is that my birth father may be deceased.  If this is the case, then I am awarded his name and from that I can order  his death certificate which can lead me to an obituary where I can find additional information  regarding other  relatives.  The freedom in doing that at my own pace is attractive.  The fact that I gain from such a great loss is unjust.

As each adoptee searches, there is the chance that we could be rejected again and the thought of that compresses my mind in my skull.  I have weighed this process and the many outcomes over and over and I am sick of being held captive by it.  My hope is that any answer will bring some relief.  Playing the what-if-game has gotten to be torturous.

It is time to go all-in.

Photo credit

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Don’t for get about the Webinar on April 28, 2011–THE TRANSCULTURAL TEN.  See link at the top of the column on the right.

*Feel free to reprint this post on your own blog. I’ll be happy to e-mail you the HTML, so all you have to do is copy & paste, and the formatting will remain intact. If you reprint it, please include the following byline:

Kevin D. Hofmann, author of  Growing Up Black In White, Consultant in Adoption, and creator of  MY MIND ON PAPER;  a blog written to adoptive parents from an adoptee’s point of view.

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At the base of the large mountain I stand and look up.  Today the mountain seems so large that I can’t see the top.  It appears the peak of the mountain disappears in to the clouds.  I wonder if today is the day I will begin my ascent.  There have been many days I have picked up my foot to begin this journey but failed to move forward.  I am exhausted before the journey begins and I am hopeful the energy that I will need to complete my  trek will catch up with me once I move forward.

Last year I completed the climb up this mountain’s twin.  It began when I set out to find my birth/first mother.  It began on October 24th, and within two hours an adoption angel was able to locate my birth/first mother.  While sitting on the bleachers at the local high school football game I was told over my IPhone my birth/first mother died in 2003.  I had suspected this was a possibility, but to hear the answers I was looking for died six years before I got there was heartbreaking.

The adventure was an amazing trip and I was able to connect with a sister, a brother, my birth/first mother’s best friend, an aunt and uncle, several cousins and two nieces.  It was such an emotional trip that happened so fast that I just needed time to absorb all the emotions that ran through my head and veins.

Thankfully, my new family has been very respectful and given me the space I needed to re-energize.  The exhaustion blended with guilt has led to more exhaustion.  I feel guilty because I haven’t jumped right in to a family that has welcomed me with warm hugs, and  great stories about my birth/first mother.  It was nothing personal towards them.  Everyone I met was great, but my system was overloaded.  By the end of the year, my head was smoking, my motherboard was fried and I needed to sit and just be still.

Now I stand wondering if I can climb another mountain.  At the top sits my birth/first father.  I have little to no information on him making the search via an adoption angel impossible.  There is just not enough information to find him.  I have his name which I am not sure is correct.  He had several children before I was born and he was married to someone other than my birth/first mother at the time of my birth.  According to what tiny information I have been given, he would be about 82 or 83 years old now.  The Las Vegas odds that he is still circulating oxygen through his lungs are long at best.

Logically, I know if he is still alive, his clock is slowing with each passing day.  It is because of this realization that I must pick up my foot and move forward.  The climb up this mountain starts with one step that I have to take now.  I will begin the climb and sort out the emotions later.

Since my information is so limited, I have only one option.  I must contact the courts in Wayne County Michigan where I was born and petition for a court appointed intermediary.  The court then assigns a court intermediary (CI) who will conduct the search after I forward $300.00 to the court.

The CI will then be given access to my adoption file.  This stranger who has no connection to my family will then open up the file, that is closed to me, and be able to verify my birth/first father’s name and begin a search.  If alive, they will contact my birth/first father and inquire if he is interested in connecting.  If he says no, my journey ends before I make it to the first plateau.   If he is not alive, they will seek out other relatives and see if they are interested in meeting.  Again, if they say no, the adventure stalls shortly after it begins.

If they agree to meet, the CI orchestrates a meeting.  Then the steepest part of the climb begins.  Although, I don’t have much control in the process I am excited about the possibilities.  The thought of meeting my birth/first father is very exciting.  If he has passed away,  the thought of meeting my brothers and/or sisters is also exciting.  The thought that he may have shared something about this time in his life with someone is exciting too.

My boots are tied tightly, my walking stick is in my left hand, and I am picking up my right foot.  Shortly, I will painfully pay the $300.00 to begin my climb, hoping those quiet questions that bounce around in my head will soon be attached to awesome answers.

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For those who have joined recently, I have a series of posts that detail my search for my birth mother  last fall.  If you look to the right under PAST BLOG POST click on “Searching for my birth mom.”  These are some of my best posts.

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Recycled

I wasn’t thrown away.

It has taken me awhile to digest the results of my searching for my birth family.  So much has happened so fast that it feels like I am living in a revolving room.  The meeting with my sister was great and to connect with someone who shares my DNA has given me a peace and a joy I can’t explain.  There are moments through out each day that I think about connecting with this tiny woman with the great laugh and I can actually feel my heart smile.

This was only the beginning.  Two weeks ago, I sat down at a restaurant in Plymouth Michigan with my biological brother, my birth mother’s best friend, and my niece and her family.  Meeting my brother was again an anxious moment but it was less stressful than meeting my sister.  I prepared myself differently this time.  My expectations were low.  My thought was that my brother was showing up because his sister made him.  I expected to meet someone who was more interested with what was on the TV screens in the restaurant than me.    If I got more, great; but if I got ignored than I got what I expected.

When I shook his hand, my expectations were exceeded.  I could tell by his hand shake that he was there because he wanted to be and not because he had to be.  He came because he was interested in meeting the brother he didn’t know about until a week before our meeting.  He showed interest in me and I sat in the restaurant next to him and my heart laughed and sang inside my chest.

My brother sat to my left and my birth mother’s best friend, Joanne, sat to my right.  She told me stories about my birth mother and showed me pictures of her and my birth mother fishing.  I found out my birth mother did beautiful needle point and she loved the Detroit Red Wings.

Joanne, who was more like a sister, filled my ear with priceless nuggets of who my mother was.   Then Joanne told me about the time her and I first met.   Forty two years ago, I rode in her arms from the hospital to my foster home.  Joanne sat in the back seat of my mother’s car holding me while my mother sat in the front seat sobbing uncontrollably.  Joanne tilted me forward so my mother could look in the rear view mirror and see my tiny face.  When we arrived at the foster home, Joanne kissed me and I was handed over to my foster mother who stood outside the car waiting.  Joanne kissed me once for her and once for my mother.  My mother sat in the front seat unable to do much.  She was too overcome by the emotions of the moment.

A week later, my mother and Joanne returned to the foster home to drop off some undershirts and diapers.  Joanne stayed in the car while my mother went in to make the delivery.

Joanne would never again bring up the events of those few weeks.  She saw how crushed my mother was and didn’t want to bring up such a painful subject again.  Over the years, Joanne explained she could tell that giving me up for adoption changed my mother.  Joanne could tell it also weighed on her mind.  When you know someone for so long it is easy to tell what they are thinking without them saying a word.  Joanne knew my mother for over 50 years.  My mother didn’t need to express her sadness to Joanne, Joanne could feel it.

By now my heart just sat and listened to Joanne.  My heart curled up in front of the warm glow coming from Joanne and sat still, quiet and peaceful.

Later on, I got to hear stories from my brother and sister about growing up with my mother.   While I sat listening to their stories a small bit of me was jealous.  I listened to them tell stories feeling a little cheated because they spoke about what I will never know.  I will never know what it was like to have a conversation with my mother or learn her likes and dislikes.  The momentary flare of jealousy took me off guard and took me away from the conversation for a few moments.  It quickly passed and I rejoined the conversation.

After our meeting, I was put in touch with an aunt and uncle; My mother’s sister and brother in law.  This sister held me at the hospital right after I was born.  In our phone conversation she told me her and her husband tried to adopt me a few months after I was taken away.  By that time I was adopted by my family.  My aunt and uncle both told me they tried to look for me since then many times but just didn’t have enough information to go on.  We are now trying to arrange a time so I can meet them.

The influx of new family members continues.  I have been sending e-mails back and forth to my brother’s daughter, my niece.  She is a great young lady and the fact that she has interest in knowing me stuns me.

This has all been overwhelming and so healing at the same time.  There are times when I just have to take a break.  I get so emotionally drained I can’t do much but just sit.  Then there are moments when my heart does cartwheels because I wasn’t just thrown away.  There have people, about 50 miles away, who thought about me and searched for me.  There have been people who didn’t want me to leave and are so happy I am back.

I wasn’t just thrown away and forgotten about like I thought for so many years.  The peace that rushes in with that realization is calming.

Now I have to rest.  There is a man that may still be alive that is my birth father.  This week one of my new nieces found my mothers old address book.  In it we think we found my birth father’s last name.  Soon there may another family I will get to meet.  I will need to rest up for that.

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Healing

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.

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Thankful

My heart is bouncing off my rib cage as the phone rings.

 

Yesterday, I sent four certified letters to four siblings.  In my search for my birth family, I found the four siblings I have been looking for for the past 21 years.  I had confirmed my birth mother’s name and the names of my three brothers and one sister.  The addresses I had for the brothers were wrong and their letters were on their way back to me.  The letter for my sister was still alive.  My sister was not home when her letter was delivered so a card was left by the postal carrier letting her know they had my letter for her.

 

In the search for their addresses I also came across phone numbers for each sibling.  After thinking about it for most of Sunday, I decided to go in to my office with my wife and make the calls.

 

The letters were much safer.  If they didn’t want to respond to the letters they could just not respond.  The phone call is very scary.  I risk the chance of having to hear someone say, “leave us alone,” or “don’t call us again.”  This response would be devastating.

 

My desire to finally get an answer outweighed my fear of the ultimate rejection and I picked up the phone.  The first number was a wrong number, so was the second, third and fourth.  It took me hours to summon the courage to dial the four numbers and they were all wrong.  Relief and frustration met in the middle of my chest.

 

There was a phone number I had for several days that I had decided I would not use.  I had the phone number of my birth mother’s husband.  The man that went with my birth mother to turn me over to the state when they found out I was biracial and obviously not his child.  His was the number I ignored because he had every right to hang up on me.  His reception I thought would be cold at best.

 

Again, my desire to get some kind of resolution squashed the growing fear I had.  At my desk, I picked up the phone and I dialed his number.  My heart was beating so quickly I can hardly breathe.  I took in a big deep breath trying to slow down my heart so I could breathe.  The phone rang once and then twice and the ringing stopped.  A woman on the other end of the line said hello.

 

No turning back now.  I asked for him.  “Just a minute,” was her response.

 

My heart was a thundering mess and it was stealing all my oxygen.  I swallowed two deep breaths and hoped I could talk when he came to the phone.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Hi, my name is Kevin Hofmann and I have been looking for my birth mother and my investigation has led me to you.  It appears your wife is my birth mother.  Do you know anything about that?”

 

My question was met with silence and it felt like my pounding heart had suddenly stopped.

“Would you happen to be of another race?” He respectfully asked.

 

Relief flows through my veins.  He is talking and not hanging up.  He did not deny it.

 

“Yes, I am biracial; black and white.”  I quickly responded.  The conversation needed to keep going I told myself.

 

“Ohhhhh yeah, I remember that.”  He acknowledged me in those five words.  My presence was not denied as I expected.

 

“She had this stretch…”  His voiced and that path of the conversation dies out.

 

“She went to a party and got knocked up by a black fellow.”  In his honest reply, I was thankful.  There was someone who knew something about me.

 

Pushing the conversation forward, I resolved to digest this later.  I needed him to stay on the phone and tell me what he knew.

 

“Do you happen to know who my birth father is?”  I quickly asked, trying to fill up the silence after his answer.

 

“No, No, I don’t.”  Immediately, I saw the familiar view of another road block.  As I was trying to think of another question to ask he continued.

 

“She used to hang around a gal and if anyone would know it would be her.  She was with my wife at that party.  I can’t think of her name.  What is that gal’s name?  I am sure once I hung up the phone I will remember her name.  Why don’t you give me your number and if I think of anything I will call you.”

 

Again in his honest reply, I was thankful.  He owes me nothing and I am sure this was a painful experience for him but he was helping me. He told me to give my number to his wife. (It appears he has remarried.)  The woman who answered the phone got back on the phone to take my number.

 

I explain the conversation I just had with her husband and tell her I am looking for my birth father.  Her voice is filled with compassion when she responds.

 

“Oh I understand.  If I were you I would want to know too.  The person who would know about this more than anyone would be his daughter.  She has been wondering what ever happened to you.”

 

This stranger has said what I have waited 42 years to hear.  Casually, she told me my sister has been wondering about me.  The sister I was convinced knew nothing about me was wondering about me.  The fact that the step mother knew that my sister was thinking about me meant someone was talking about me.  Someone cared.

 

Before that one sentence, I was sure I was the dirty secret no one knew about.

 

The kind woman took my number and assured me she would pass it on to my sister and she would have her call me.

 

I asked her to thank her husband for me.  I thanked her and let her know I was fortunate to have been adopted by a great family and things turned out great.  She told me she was relieved to hear that everything worked out for me.

 

 

We ended the call.  I put down the phone and the adrenaline in my body immediately left.  My wife and I looked at each other and were amazed at the call that took place. (I had put the speaker phone on so my wife could the conversation.)  We were excited about the connection we made and the possibility that my sister would be calling soon.

 

I stood up to walk out of the office and my legs struggled to support me.  My body was exhausted.

 

The next day, while I was home alone my phone rang.  I answered it and on the other end I heard, “This is your sister.  I’ve been looking for you for the last 15 years.”

 

Wow!

 

The conversation flowed easily as we both tried to get as much information out of the other as we could.  I learned she has a step son who lives ten minutes from me.    On Thursday, a day of thanks, my sister is coming to see me on her way to her step son’s house.

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Raped

My birth mother had been raped by an unknown black man.  This is what she and her husband told the adoption agency.  In September of 1967 they were referred to the agency by the Department of Social Services and they were looking to place “a child who appeared to be racially mixed.”

Yesterday after several calls to the adoption agency who handles my file I finally received the indentifying information I was looking for about my mother.  Since she passed away six years ago, I was able to get a copy of her information from my file.

I spoke to the agency at about 10:30 am and I was advised they would copy my file and fax to me as soon as they could.  By 4:00 my fax machine was still quiet and I was filled with frustration up to the tops of my ears.

My information from my file was not priority to someone who has other responsibilites and more pressing things to do.  My information is priority to me and I felt some compassion was expected and should be a part of this person’s job.  Unfortunately my feelings had no authority.

At 4:03 pm I placed a call back to the agency.  At this point, the person handling my file was so sick of hearing from me she wouldn’t come to the phone.  Instead, when I called the secretary relayed to the woman responsible for my file I was on the phone and the women handling my file passed a message to me through the secretary.  I am advised they are typing up the cover letter and have just finished copying my information.  They tell me they will be faxing to me shortly.

At this point, I am thinking this must be some file.  It took them five and a half hours to put it together.  I hoped I had enough paper in my fax machine.

At 4:37 pm I received my information.  Four sheets came through my fax machine.  One sheetwas a cover letter, one sheet told me who to contact if I want the court records of my adoption, one sheet appeared to be a legal order or request for my adoption, and one sheet told me my birth mother was raped.

Confusion, despair, and finality surround me as I read the words that my birth mother “could not describe the AF(father) stating she was raped by an unknown negro man.”  I sat on my bed and wondered why I never thought of this scenario.  For 30 minutes I sat still not knowing what to say or what to do.  I now hafto digest that the siblings I was going to contact would have no reason to interact with me.  I realized bringing up this painful topic really wouldn’t  be fair to them and there is a strong chance  they know nothing about it.

My search ends here, is what I thought.

The confusion clouds my memory of what I know.  For 30 minutes I was stunned and didn’t remember the information I received 21 years ago from the same agency.  Slowly,  I came out of this fog.

The reason why I never thought of this scenario was because 21 years ago the agency sent me my non-indentifying information which told me my birth father worked with my birth mother, he was married and had children of his own and he was 40 years old when  I was born.

What story was true? Did the person who was in charge of my file 21 years ago make this up to “protect” my feelings? I was clear headed and I was angry.  It was 5:07 pm and I placed a call to the agency.  I considered giving a false name to the secretary in fear that once they heard it is me they would avoid me.  I gave them my name and the woman who has my file gets on the phone.

I explained to her the information I was just given totally contradicts the information I have had for the last 20 years and I need to know which is the right story.  She gets my file and she can’t find where the initial file handler came up with the information on my birth father.  She states it might have been in the court records which I will have to get from the court.  This is another leg of a trip that seems will never end.  It seems that the court system and theirs records will be a circus that I am not in the mood to attend; the typical bureaucratic paper tornado.

On the other end of the phone she stated she had found a report in my file.  The report described a home visit that the agency had at my birth mother’s home.  The report states that my birth mother was questioned about the facts surrounding my birth and finally she  admitted the rape story was not true.  She confessed to having an affair with a black co-worker.  She provided information on my birth father to the agency.

The gravity of what just happened is not picked up by the woman on the other end of the phone.  We ended our conversation and I realize that if I hadn’t called 21 years ago, I would be left with the rape story.  My journey would have ended in a tragic way.  Being conceived out of an affair isn’t the best legacy but it would have to be higher on the scale than the alternative.

This morning, I called the court just to see what, if anything, they could provide.  I could not have been more wrong about the court system.  The woman I talked to showed the compassion I needed to see.  She listened to me tell my story.  She didn’t hear my words,  she listened.  Being in this system, she told me very often she hears similar stories.  It was very common back then for woman to say they were raped if a child was conceived as a result of an affair.  Especially, in the late 60’s with a white woman and black man, rape was often used to explain what happened.  The words from this experienced professional comforted me.

Soon after, I sat down and wrote a letter to my three brothers and one sister.  I included in the letters all the information that I have, and the letter I received yesterday which names each one of them as the children of my birth mother.  In this letter it plainly states she is my mother too.

Today four letters went to four people requesting they share with me information, stories, and pictures of my birth mother.   The letter also asks them to see if someone may know the last name of my birth father.  In the information I received yesterday on the adoption request form it gave me a first name of my father.  His last name was blacked out to protect his privacy.

I sent the letters express and they will arrive tomorrow.  Again, more waiting.

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