I’ve been lamenting about my journey to grey for nearly a year now. Insisting that this journey is not for the faint of heart. Well I can say now for sure that finding your birth mother isn’t either. I can say this now because I found her. After 56 years, I now know my medical and genealogical history. I also found a wonderful step-father two step sisters and a step brother. All of whom are lovely and I would keep as friends no matter what. The icing on this cake for me is my biological brother. A big bear of a man, a gentle giant. Strong, sweet, smart and kind. an amazing man an an early Christmas gift. Thanks Mom!
My journey took me out of the US as my mother immigrated not long after I was born. I always knew I was of Italian decent, but thanks to 23 and me and my birth mother’s story I know I am 100% Sicilian. Pretty amazing….
I always thought she would like to know that I am OK and had a good life. I thought that would bring closure and maybe happiness for her. I always gave her credit for taking the time to have me and to not have an abortion. I fancied that I am a love child, as I have been surely loved in my life. I said a prayer of thanks for her on every birthday as I didn’t know hers. (but I do now.) The fantasy was part of the wisdom of adulthood. I imagined as I let go of my childhood and the preconceived thinking of a child that this was not a nice woman who would just give a baby away, but she was a good woman who took a year out of her life to have me. And of course I am eternally grateful for my life.
What I found on my journey was a strong woman, the matriarch of her family. Sadly a woman not in good health but strong and loving with her family, so she pushes on and insists on cooking and doing whatever she can to take care of her husband and amazing children. I found a nurturing woman, easy to laugh, a woman who believes in propriety, honesty and doing the right thing. A stand up lady, a lady who I find I sound a lot like in my words and thinking. It shocked my husband many times over the week we were together as to how much I think and act like this woman I have only just met.
She took time with me to explore my biological family, showing me pictures and sharing stories of her childhood, and the raising of these beautiful children she acquired and produced. She made us an amazing meal, I know this was hard for her as she tires easily. And shared us with her kids, they all took time out of their lives to get to know me, my husband and my life. Kind and generous and thoughtful. When they found out I am a vegetarian, they took care of that as well. My brother brought us veggie burgers from his restaurant, and my sister made a vegetarian lasagna that was delicious! So many wonderful gifts!
And yet things were a little off. My Mother lamented her choices as a young woman, my emergence rehashed all of those old feelings, I also have an idea of how she feels, what she went through and how hard it is to dredge up the past. She doesn’t want anyone other than her immediate family to know I exist, it was a mistake, bad judgment, the worst mistake of her life, if she could have had an abortion she would have. She rarely thought of me, put me right out of her head and moved on. These are words I got to hear during our visit and some before. I guess living in a small town is different than what we are accustomed to, what other people think and say is very important. Maybe I can understand this as well. Although that is not how I live my life. I spent my week trying to understand what it was like for her, how she feels. Rolling over in my head how she must not have realized how her words shifted to being so hurtful right in the middle of a conversation, and the next day be so kind and loving. I have to say it was a hard week, hearing those things out loud, destroying my wise fantasy was not fun for me. It hurt, I cried, and I realized I had to let it go, we’ve come to far not to. I spent these conversations, placating and trying to keep her in the present. I quickly realized that this is so much about her. I’m just riding the train, unleashing her greatest secret, one she went to great lengths to keep. For me it was years of wondering, and fantasizing. For her I am proof of a bad choice, one that she still is haunted by. This is something I really didn’t think would be so. I guess I knew there was a chance of being rejected, but don’t we all think that “this will never happen to me”.. But I realize that she is conflicted by her past and now facing the present In her mid-80’s is really something to think about. She could have denied me, but she didn’t she told her kids right away, claimed me for her own. This journey is so much more than my imaginings as a young woman. It’s about me owning this choice I made, coming into these good peoples lives and changing them forever. Maybe this is why I was so hurt. I felt so selfish for searching her out. I try not to be selfish but maybe I was. I didn’t feel this way until I was right there in the thick of it. Either way the dye is cast and here we are. I think richer for it, better stronger. Her children see an amazing woman who had a rich full life before they were born, a woman who rode the train to the west coast all on her own in order to have this baby in secret. A woman who moved on found love and a wonderful life with her beautiful family.
With each conversation we have become more comfortable together. She is wise and kind, I find comfort knowing I get to talk to her and learn from her. I find myself letting go of the hurt and focusing on the good. The good is much richer and just so much more. Would I recommend this search to other adoptees? I wouldn’t say either way. It’s each of our journey’s and it’s all so very personal.
At the end of my day, I have another amazing family, and my biological brother, and so much to look forward to.
(This post was originally written on August 4th 2019) I will be following up soon.