Have you ever had an experience that you need to share, but you don’t know where to start? That’s what I’ve been going through lately and it has been driving me crazy. But I’ve had time to process and I know that putting this out there will be a release for me, therapeutic even. So I’ll start at the beginning.
Most people who know me are aware that my parents adopted me as an infant. I have always known this, and I never felt a need or desire to seek out my birth parents. As a child, I would often imagine what they were like, but it was more of a make-believe game than genuine interest in who they were. For years, I imagined I was the love child of Shania Twain and Tim McGraw. And I would sometimes tell people I had a twin who came to visit; I would then go into the house and change my clothes before reappearing as that twin. Really, it was fun knowing nothing about my parents and letting my imagination run wild.
Mine was a closed adoption in 1982, so the only thing I knew about my birth parents also happened to be the most important to me: They loved me enough to recognize that they couldn’t provide the life I needed.
Connections Start Happening
When I got a little older, I found out my birth mother had written a letter for me during her pregnancy. Long story short, after a broken engagement with my birth father, she found out she was going to have a baby and decided adoption was the best option. It confirmed in my mind that she had done what she felt was best for me and that I was part of the right family. So I moved forward with my life.
Then, nine years ago, I missed a call from a number I didn’t recognize. As I listened to the voicemail, I was surprised to hear the girl on the other end say she thought I was her half-brother. She had found my information on adoption.com and felt there was a connection—she wanted to talk.
I called her back. How could I not? Fortunately, I had that letter with a few details about my birth parents so we had a few specifics to compare. As we talked and the connection seemed more and more likely, she started to get excited, but I was nervous. I had never wanted to know any of my genetic family members: half siblings, birth parents, etc.
When I told her that my birth mother had graduated college, her excitement evaporated. This wasn’t true in her case and the connection was broken. With the information I have now, I wish I knew her name.
Two years ago, my brother-in-law gave me an exciting gift—a genetic test from Ancestry.com. While I hadn’t cared to know about my direct parentage, I did want to find out where my ancestors came from. Spitting in a tube had never been so exciting.
Six weeks later, and I got my results:
Great Britain – 62%
Europe West – 15%
Iberian Peninsula – 7%
Europe South – 4%
Europe East – 4%
Scandinavia – 3%
European Jewish – 2%
Ireland/Scotland/Wales – 2%
Finland/Northwest Russia – <1%
These numbers on a sheet of paper were so interesting. I loved knowing where I came from, but after the initial excitement, I set it all aside and moved on once again. I didn’t want anything else from this experience. I never imagined that there would be anything else. Boy was I wrong!
One day I got a notification from Ancestry about a connection with a fourth cousin. I looked them up and thought, “This isn’t my fourth cousin.” But of course, it was a biological cousin and someone I don’t know. I ignored it.
Third cousin, second cousin, first cousin . . . they kept coming and the familial relationships were getting closer. The first-cousin link finally made me pause long enough to wonder what connections were coming next. But when you have three kids, outside wonderings tend to drop off the radar.
April 11, 2018, I was in New York with my wife. I checked my email as we were getting ready for a day of exploration and saw one from Ancestry letting me know I had a new message. That was weird. I had never received a message from anyone—so I opened it.
“Hello, Apparently I gave birth to you. How has your life gone for you? Good I hope. Don’t want to cause you any issues, I just saw this and thought that I should say Hi.”
I was shocked. I had no words. What had I just read? Could this possibly be real? Hello! Of course it’s real, our DNA connected us—there is no denying that.
Now I had a choice to make: Respond and come what may or delete it and act as though nothing happened.
About a week went by and I couldn’t stop thinking about the email. What do I say? Do I say anything? If I delete the email, I may always wonder what could have happened. But of course, there is always risk in asking questions. I could get answers I don’t like.
I’ve heard stories of people connecting with their birth mom and having wonderful experiences. More often though, I hear about issues that come through the connection. Was I ready for what could happen? I thought was, so I replied.
I needed a little bit more information from her before I was ready to admit 100% that this was real. So I asked if she could give me more details: When was I born? Where? Anything?
She replied with the correct answers, but added that I could be one of two. Wait, she placed two kids for adoption? I wasn’t judging. If anything, I became more impressed that she went through this not once, but twice. What amazing strength to endure the emotional and physical pain of birthing two babies that you don’t get to see grow up.
As the questions flooded my head, I asked them. She would reply. Anytime I asked about her, the answers were vague. But I had to keep digging so I asked, “Did you think of me all the time?”
“I have never thought about the two of you that I put up for adoption because I never felt like you were mine, I felt like I was just a motel for the 2 of you to get to the family that you were meant to be with. I have had a great life, and I don’t think that I would do anything different if given the chance.”
This hurt. This hurt real bad.
The Pain Continued
Believe me when I say I am grateful she put me up for adoption, and I am 100% sure I was placed in the family where I belong. That isn’t the issue. The part that hurt me was, “I have never thought about you.” In 36 years, you never thought about that baby you carried for nine months? My birthday was never a day that made you stop and wonder who I might be now?
This was a hard pill to swallow, but I tried to be positive and thought that maybe my birth father had some good qualities. “What ever happened to the birth father?” I knew their story before I was born, but what happened after?
Drugs, murder, jail, rehab. It wasn’t better, it was so much worse. I am leaving out a lot of details here because it was a crazy story. But she told me he got into drugs, killed his friend, chopped up the body, and fed it to goats. WHAT?
Facts, I Needed Facts
Come on, goats don’t eat meat, let alone people. I needed to find facts so I went a little crazy and got a background check on both of them. I never knew how much information you could learn about a person for $20—but I did realize my life would have been very different had she kept me.
When we were emailing and she answered my questions, she let me know the age and sex of her multiple children. When I did the background check, I got names. I jumped on Facebook to find out more and was once again amazed what you can find on the internet.
In a matter of weeks, I went from having one sister, to knowing that I had multiple half siblings and they lived close—real close.
It’s All Too Much
Finally, I had to stop communicating with her. I could have kept it going, but I had gotten all the answers I wanted—plus a lot I didn’t want.
So I told her she was right and that I was part of the family I am supposed to be in, and thankfully, she knew that. She made a hard decision and I am truly grateful for it. As she was also adopted, she can’t provide me with any medical history beyond her own. But it’s fine; I’ve gotten all the information I can handle.
Adoption stories aren’t always rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes it’s better to not ask and let your imagination wander.
I am truly grateful for my family. I love my parents and the choice they made to adopt. When they got that phone call 36 years ago saying, “We have a baby boy here at the hospital for you,” they made the decision to get me. They didn’t know my history, but they wanted to be my future.
I know my parents are my real parents and I just needed to find an alternative method to join their family. It’s crazy how things happen, but I believe there is a plan behind it all.