(And Now For Something Completely Different: My wife, molly bloom, who was adopted a week after she was born, left on a plane this morning to meet her birth mother and her three siblings for the first time. She wrote the following a few months back, after she had made contact with the family, and was starting to make plans for the visit.
I truly believe that opening up adoption records, and allowing adoptees access to their medical history, their heritage, their identity – is the last great civil rights issue of our time. In the future molly will be guest-blogging here, on adoption and health issues; please let this serve as an introduction to my lovely, talented and awesome better half. – c.a.)
My birth and adoption took place in Massachusetts. I was raised an only child in a very affluent family. My adoptive parents did not share my looks, my religion, my politics or my extroverted nature.
My adoption was a source of emotional distress to my adoptive mother. Any questions I had growing up were met with such pain. So out of respect for her, I never brought up my adoption, and buried all my feelings and needs.
Then I had my own child. As he grew I could see similarities with my husband, his family and myself, but there were other mysterious traits. I was extremely conscious of his differences.
When I was 53, my adoptive mother died suddenly. Six months later I asked my adoptive father if he would be upset if I began to search for my biological family. After receiving his blessing, I sent for my Original Birth Certificate. I picked up the documents from the Post Office, excited but not emotional. I opened the envelope in the car and suddenly started to weep. I saw that the certificate had my birth mother’s name (no father), and mine – she had named me! I sat there for a half hour crying. I was surprised at the intensity and a feeling of longing I had never quite felt before. It was a different longing than for a lover, or for my child, or for a close friend that I missed. The only way to describe it is the longing a child has when she is hurt, and mother is not there to comfort her. It was that feeling of abandonment, when all is lost before you see her, and you feel like the loneliest human on earth.
I looked for my birth mother for 4 days on-line, and hit nothing but brick walls. During this time my fear was palatable. I had enough issues in my life already. It would have been easy to walk away, but the drive to find her was beyond my control. I realized that my desire to know has been with me as long as I can remember.
I’d befriended a “Search Angel” I’d met at an adoption reunion site. I emailed her on the 5th day, and it turned out that she lives in Massachusetts, and helps adoptees search in that particular state. Apparently she was considered an expert. To me, it seemed like Kismet.
I’ll never forget her emails to me as she unraveled the mystery. The 2nd day she sent me a name that matched the one thing I was able to find, a birth date and my biological grandparents’ names. There was a phone number. She asked me to call and get confirmation so she knew she wasn’t wasting her time. So I made my husband call and leave a vague message about performing a genealogy search. No response, so the next morning I called and left a message that was so stupid that I hung up and screamed “Aaarrrgh!” It wasn’t more than an hour later that my angel emailed me and gave me a direct link to the woman we were calling. I’ll never forget the title of her email: “BingoBingoBingo.” Attached were her daughter’s birth records (I have a sister?), with a matching birth date. And my angel simply said, “She is your mother.” There was no doubt.
I immediately wrote a letter in an almost free associative style, scanned some pictures of myself and my family, and shoved them into an envelope. I threw it in the mailbox and then just stood there. What in the world did I just do? But the letter was gone, gone, gone. I didn’t even make a copy of it. What did I say? Oh my God……
Then I waited. For over two weeks, I waited. I drank a lot. Towards the end of the two weeks I was sitting on the porch, drinking and yelling at my husband. Well, not at him, but about being adopted. I had never felt anything so intense in my life. I had no idea I had these feelings. My abandonment issues were beyond my control. These feelings were buried so deep inside me.
I was at work and my husband called me to say that I had received a very thick letter from my birth mother. He had scanned the pages and was emailing them to me at work. I opened the email and decided not to read them on the screen but print them out and go somewhere private. However, I had to read the first line: “I was very surprised to get your letter, to say the least!”
Ten full pages of my family history, information about my two brothers and sister, nieces, nephews, aunt and cousins: MY HERITAGE. Then I saw her picture. For the first time in my life I saw, in someone else, my eyes, my smile, and the shape of my face. I was mesmerized by her face. It was a beautiful face.
Now what? No really, what in the hell did I want from her? This is where the actual story begins.
So we started a very careful email relationship. My siblings did not know I existed. The only people that knew about me were my aunt and my birth mother’s ex-husband. I was so scared I’d say something wrong to her and she would vanish. Now, months into reunion, I realize she was feeling the same way. We stayed away from strong emotions and just talked about our lives. I told her everything about me: things I never told my adoptive mother; all those things about yourself that you feel are less than perfect. It was almost like I was testing her to see if she could handle who I was. I decided that of all the people in my life, she would have to take me as I was. I was going to be myself without trying to impress her.
I didn’t want another mother. I decided I wanted to be her friend. When I told her this, she never once commented either way. She did not act motherly to me, nor did she act like a friend. She was professional. I, on the other hand, was a bit of a mess. I was all over the place with my writing.
I wanted to hear her voice. Emails were too dry. I could not get a good sense of who she really was. Does she sound like me? So I began to press, whereas before I’d been very patient. My siblings still did not know about me. She and I were like lovers having a secret affair. Finally she consented to a phone call and, while it didn’t rock my world, it was great. I think she was constantly waiting for me to confront her about the adoption, and on a phone call she would have to respond. My biological mother was fragile, and I knew that. I was never going to hurt her, no matter how deeply I felt about my situation.
It wasn’t too long after that phone call that she couldn’t hold in her secret any longer. One morning she decided to simply begin to tell her family about me. She went to each of my siblings’ houses to inform them. It was the day she had dreaded.
I got a panicky email from her the next morning to warn me. I was so excited. Finally! She was very afraid that they would try to contact me on Facebook before I knew what had happened. Nothing happened. After a week, no contact….what? Are they rejecting me? I swear I never even thought about sibling rejection, I was so concerned with mother’s rejection.
I found out they were all going to write me handwritten personal letters and mail them in one big envelope. I was flattered, but beyond impatient. So she told them to email me…PLEASE.
All three of them immediately accepted the fact that they have an older sister, without any reservation. Once, I was an only child. I cannot say that now. The words “brother” and “sister” roll off my tongue with ease. They are so like me. I have a deep connection to each one of them. They are all very different, but parts of me match each. Biology is profound.
I am now fully in reunion with my biological family. I am surprised to find that I love each and every one of them, without any misgivings whatsoever. Yes, I said love, and I do mean love. And I now refer to my biological mother as Mother. Yes, I do mean Mother too.
It’s an open wound, but the healing process is ongoing. This is bigger than just me. The wound involves my mother, my siblings, my aunt, my cousins, and me. Even if this had not turned out to be optimal, it’s all about the contact. As humans we need our shared DNA, our biology, our sameness and connection. It’s the depth and breadth of life.
We are all going to meet in three months. It’s our last leg of this part of the journey. I have no fear, no anxiety, and no reservations. Plain and simple, it just feels like I’m going home to see my family.
– molly bloom