Wednesday, August 5, 2009

the other part of the story

This is a story with no definitive beginning and no ending in sight. It is the story of my life as it bisects with the lives of others --- so many others. It is the story of my beginning and other endings. It is the story of the things that I know, at least at this moment, but it changes with every passing second as it should, as I know it must. (If you haven't already read this post, you might want to do it now.)

When I was a little girl I liked to close my eyes and imagine my birth mother. I hoped she had brown hair and brown eyes like me. I hoped she smiled. I hoped she was happy, where ever in the world she might be, most of all I hoped she was happy. When I pictured her, she was usually alone. I didn't like that she was alone, but somehow I was never able to conjure up other people around her. She just sat there at a cafe table in the sun. In this fictional memory, I watched her grow old. I worried that I might never get to meet her, that she would be gone before I was able to look her in the eyes.

I never once imagined my father. I don't know why that is, except that my birth mother was the one we talked about, she was the one who made my life possible, the one who made the choices and did what she had to do.

Which is why this story takes such a sudden and inexplicable turn. It was my birth father and my brother Matt that found me two years ago. Let me explain how this is possible.

My birth parents had been married and then divorced when I was born. My mother didn't feel that she was in a place to raise a child on her own, so she gave me up for adoption. It was her decision - and my father stood by her choice, regardless of his own feelings. It was a few years later that they reconciled and remarried - and had Matt, my brother. My mother died when Matt was just a little guy, and Buddy (my birth father) never remarried.

In 2007 they decided to get serious about tracking me down, and so Matt and his wife drove up through Utah to the little town where I was born to see if they could find any record of my adoption. Through a series of crazy happenstance and chance they ended up speaking to a doctor that was very good friends with the OBGYN that delivered me. This is how they found me.

It was July 2007 when I got the phone call that I had a full brother, and both he and my birth father wanted to make contact with me. Was I interested?

Let me tell you, it's a strange thing to be faced with that kind of choice: the haven of not-knowing, of continuing to allow yourself to imagine your beginnings instead of knowing the concrete structure of truth. As soon as you find out the true version of events, every single other possibility of who and what and where closes with a SMACK and a once-crowded hall of maybe's becomes a straight hallway with just one door: these are the people you came from.

You no longer imagine that you're the daughter of a bank-robber or the niece of a fortune teller. You can't wonder whether you're related to anyone who is famous or if a distant cousin invented anything really useful. With the truth of who and what and how, you're left without options or possibilities.

Once I had talked things over with my parents (that would be MOM and WINSTON, y'all - this might get confusing, but hang in there), and once I'd made sure that they were going to be okay with everything, I said YES, ABSOLUTELY, I WANT TO HAVE CONTACT WITH THESE PEOPLE, I WANT TO KNOW THEM. I was curious. I was full of wonder. I was wary. I was worried. I was hopeful. I was hesitant. I was guarded. I was overcome with joy. Because I really, really, really did want to know them.

And I'm so glad. I'm so glad to know them. I'm honored to know them.

Both Buddy and Matt have been so immensely patient with me. They have been kind, generous, curious, and very respectful of both my feelings AND my time. They have allowed me to set the pace, to express my feelings, and to say no when things were too much. In short, they have been amazing.

This is the introduction to explain how it came to be last week that I attended a gathering of one hundred people with whom I share blood. One hundred people I had never seen before, and until two years ago, didn't know existed.

Looking back now, with the understanding and the weight of the true stories that I know, it seems so weird that I never pictured my birth mother with anyone. It seems even more strange that I never even considered my birth father and what he went through as a living, breathing, human being when I was gone.

I am so grateful to both Matt and Buddy for their sweetness, and for their tenacity. They are what makes the next parts of this story possible, and in those upcoming parts I will tell you what it's like to meet a brother that you never even knew existed when you're thirty-four and pregnant (that's in 2007, kids, I am not now pregnant and I am definitely NOT thirty-four).

... continued tomorrow


Spadoman said...

I'll be back to read the next installment. This is a fascinating story, like something Oprah would tell us about. Thanks for sharing it, thanks so much. Real life, not something written for entertainment, and it has feelings and emotions and is real to you that makes it real to me, to all of us.


Anonymous said...

Wow, this is so amazing.

I find it fascinating that as a child you never wondered about your birth father, just your birth mother. I wonder if the same is true of other adopted children. What that says about mothering is immense and maybe even a bit overwhelming as I try to mother my own child without totally screwing her up.

Cannot wait to hear more of the story. For now, it just makes me love you a little bit more.

Amy said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I know you worry about not knowing the right words, but you always have a way of making us feel like we are there with you in your pocket.

bethsix said...

Can't wait for the next part.

My dad was adopted, and he committed suicide when I was 11. I *so* wonder about that other half of my blood.

I also found out when I was 19 that he fathered another child before I was born. I have a half-sibling out there somewhere that I almost certainly will never know. I know nothing about him/her, no name, no mother's name, nothing. It absolutely kills me.

stacie d said...

I remember wondering with you when we were kids. I'll never forget when you told me about all blew my mind & busted open my heart for you!!

The continuing part of the story I don't know yet and I can't wait to read what happened!!

M said...

love you.

Alice said...

this is such an amazing story. thank you for sharing it with us.. i can't wait to hear the next part(s)!

serenity now said...

I was going to leave a comment here, but I'll trade originality for sincerity--ditto what Amy said above.

Eleanor Q. said...

I think you are so brave. I imagine that I would want to meet my relatives but at the same time would also be so filled with fears (that I wouldn't like them, that they wouldn't like me, that it would be weird and uncomfortable) that I may not have been able to step up and open my life to them.

Thank you for sharing something so personal. Its a beautiful story.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Reading this made the little hairs on my neck stand up (even the stray ones in FRONT. HAhaha!). Thank you for sharing.

My niece was adopted through an open adoption. It is a strange and wondrous thing for her to know, even now at age 3.5, the woman whose belly she grew in. I'm sure the open-ness will have its own challenges (she has asked her birth mother repeatedly, who she sees once a year on her birthday, why she
didn't keep her. There is no recrimination, just curiosity.)

Anonymous said...

I am glad your reunion is going well.

I have reunited with my son and he has reunited with his father and his other siblings. They get on really well.

It is interesting about what you said about not thinking about the father.

My son was told that I didn't know who his father was! He was told that so that he would be put off wanting to meet me.

Did he get a shock when he found out that not only did I know who his father was but that we had been searching for him together and found him together.

My son then decided he wanted to meet me first before he met his father. I think he still couldn't believe that we had been in touch for decades just so that our son would not have to do 2 searches
(His father lives in North America and I live in Europe).

My son moved to Europe and stayed near me for a few years and then he moved back to North America near where his father lives. They see each other regularly - they even went skiing together at Christmas
(they both like going down the black runs - they reckon that their skiing abilities are matched pretty equally).

One spooky thing - my son's father was actually on the ski patrol team for many years on the very mountains that our son skied down.
If our son had any trouble, it would have been his father that would be the one to rescue him.
My son's father was watching out for our son even though he didn't realise it at the time!

Anyway, I wish you all the very best. Good luck.