Thursday, August 30, 2007

Round Two

Searching for my birth mother was hard. It brought up all kinds of emotions and fears. The initial reunion was also fraught with worries and anxiety. But here I stand, still alive, and at the beginning of a new stage in my life. The fears and worries (though not the emotions) seem to have dropped away for the most part. Life is good.

But it's not over. There is still the matter of my birth father. For my whole life, I never once can recall feeling angry at my birth mother for giving me up. She did what she thought was best. And I had a good life. What was there to feel angry about.

Now that I've been reunited with her, I know a bit more of her story. And a bit about who my birth father was, and how he acted. My birth mother recognizes that they both did things wrong, that it's not all his fault. But I'm ambivalent about most men already. And I can't help but feel a little upset at events that happened nearly forty years ago.

And I keep wondering how I can put myself through the roller-coaster again so soon. So maybe I'm using this knowledge of my birth father to avoid putting myself through it. Or maybe all the fears and worries are just gonig to come up again. I have no reason to think he's interested in finding me or knowing who I am. But maybe I'm wrong. And people can change a lot in 36 years. (Heck, people can change a lot in ten years.) Don't I at least owe him the chance to make the decision?

My birth mother thinks she knows where he is. I even think I know the address and phone number of his current residence. But when do I use that information? Should I? How long do I wait? How do I know I'm ready for round two? I certainly don't want to wait another 36 years. But I don't know how to figure this out, either.

I guess it never really ends. And I think I knew that already. But sometimes the universe seems to really enjoy reminding me anyway.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Second Phone Call

My birth mother and I had our second real phone conversation last night. (We talked once or twice briefly when she visited to arrange meeting.) Our first phone call felt awkward to me. I was nervous as could be, and there were long moments of silence. But this time felt natural and easy. I know I felt more comfortable talking. We have been e-mailing a lot, and that is great for telling long stories and getting to know one another. But the phone conversations seem important, too. They allow for a more natural and informal kind of give and take. It was just a nice conversation.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Random Encounter

I've been reading Jean A. S. Strauss' Birthright. It's a wonderful book so far. I think I can recommend it highly to anyone doing a search, or anyone who cares about someone going through a search. I'm not quite a third of the way through it, but it is very engaging. A bit of a mix between the practical and the therapeutic. Some of the practical search recommendations may be a little outdated. (But I actually don't think so. It just was so much easier for me that I didn't have to do as much work as she describes. I was prepared to do so; I just got lucky.)

Anyway, as I say, I've been reading the book. I had to be in the hospital the last couple of mornings for some tests. While waiting between the different bits, I went to the cafeteria to get some food. I had brought the book with me to occupy the down times. As I was paying, the woman the register noticed the book. I had actually been a bit sheepish carrying it around with me. I keep expecting people to think that I'm doing something wrong for searching.

But the woman at the register seemed excited. She asked if I was adopted. I said I was. She wanted to know if I was searching, and I explained that I had just found my birth mother. She seemed genuinely happy for me. We had a neat little conversation about it. She apologized for being nosy. It didn't actually bother me, and I assured her of that. It was actually kind of neat that she seemed curious in a positive way. It made me feel better about being more open about searching.

For some reason, events like this fill me with a little bit of happiness and wonder about the world.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Friday night I went to dinner with my birth mother. It was the first time we met. My partner came with us, as did one of her sons that she raised and two of her granddaughters (whom she is currently raising).

After dinner we sat up and talked until eleven-thirty. That's five and a half-hours of talking. I returned to the hotel the next morning bright and early. We had another five hours to talk before they had to leave.

It was an extremely short trip. Too short. Way too short.

It's hard to meet your birth mother for the first time and then have to say good-bye again less than twenty-four hours later. I've been moping about all weekend since she left.

But that aside, getting to see her, touch her, hug her... There aren't words. I feel like I should write something about it. But I don't know what to write. It was wonderful getting to meet her. And I wish we had had more time. Given how far apart we live, I don't know when I'll see her next.

At least I got some pictures of the two of us together. And I wouldn't have traded even that brief visit for anything in the world.

One thing I've never lost sight of... I know that I've been lucky. I suppose there will still be bumps and hiccups, but I know that this has gone very smoothly so far. And I couldn't be more grateful. I hope others can have as good a reunion experience as I've had so far.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Little Things

It's amazing how many of the little things can be explained simply by finding one person I'm biologically related to.

There are a lot of little weird personality quirks that are probably hard to tease out. My adoptive mother and my biological mother seem to have some traits in common. Where did I get what? This is not always an easy question to answer.

But then there are those things, little things, that you know had to come from biology.

I do not have a full set of adult teeth. I never had any wisdom teeth in my head. But more than that, I'm missing at least three adult teeth. They never existed, so they never came in and pushed the primary teeth out. As a result, I still have three baby teeth in my mouth.

It turns out, my biological mother also has a baby tooth left in her smile. (She had more, but lost them due to age. I've already lost one, myself, that way.)

She mentioned this in an off-hand comment in an e-mail. But it was like another piece of the puzzle just falling neatly into place. It's something I might never have remembered to ask about. But there it was, another obvious connection.

Tomorrow, she arrives in town for a short visit. Our first face-to-face meeting. I'm really nervous. But I'm really looking forward to it, too. I'll probably find out more little things then.

Monday, August 13, 2007


One of the things that has struck me in this process is how similar the experiences of the adoptee and the biological parent can be. (I have no reason to think everyone goes through this. But my birth mother and I seem to be.)

My birth mother told me about her fantasy that I was living the perfect life. And, like many adoptees, I think, I fantasized about my biological parents. These weren't the same fantasies, of course. But we both fantasized. And we both discovered that reality was different than the fantasy. It always must be, it seems.

Now that we've found each other, we both have fears. She is fearful that I won't like her or that I will pull away just after making contact. I have had similar fears. Maybe not always the same fears at the same time, but fears. Of rejection, of not being understood.

And the problem, for me, is that a feature of my personality that is probably due in part to the adoption in the first place, is the fear of abadonment. Of being left alone. This has always made me a bit closed-off, a bit reserved around others. I instinctively pull back and shut others out in order to protect myself. If I let people get too close, I'll get more hurt when they leave me. I've screwed up a lot of relationships because of that.

And it poses problems now, too. I am scared of getting hurt. So I keep feeling like pulling back. But that activates her fears that I'm going to leave again. She's already lost me once, and she doesn't want to do it again. Still, I have only begun learning how not to shut down and shut out. I'm not very good at it. I keep everyone at arm's length, and I have to make a conscious effort not to. It doesn't come easily.

So we both seem to have to learn to do things we aren't accustomed to doing. She has to learn to trust that I'm not going to disappear from her life again. And I have to learn to let down my guard. I guess we both need to work at it, and hope the other person has enough patience to stick it out.

Nobody said this would be easy. But I didn't really have any idea how hard it could be.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Sense of Self

Last night, I spoke with my birth mother for the first time. We talked on the phone for over two hours.

There were awkward minutes. Neither of us seemed to know what to say at times. But we talked more than we sat in silence. And I think we got a sense of one another. Which isn't to say we covered everything. But I feel like I have a clearer picture in my head.

Maybe the hardest part of the conversation for me was when we drifted, however briefly, into the "what if?" zone. I had mentioned, in one of my letters, that my parents had divorced when I was younger. I'm okay with this fact, and both my parents love me and are still very much part of my life. But they didn't work together. I won't pretend there were no problems because of the divorce, but overall, I don't regret the life I was given. I think I had a good life, in general.

But my birth mother, last night, began choking up at one point. She said that she had always imagined that I was being raised by wealthy parents who treated me like a prince. When she found out that it wasn't like that, she had a thought that she could have kept me. And I could tell it bothered her a lot.

I don't like to see anyone in pain. And in this case, I really wanted to allieviate the she was feeling. It isn't my job, but it's how I've been most of my life. However, I felt as though there wasn't anything I could say here. If I agreed with her, in order to sympathize, I would be lying. I do think I had a good home. But if I emphasize how good I think I have it, then it sounds like I'm saying she couldn't have provided as good a home as I had. And I don't know that that is true. It felt like I had to walk a very fine line in reassuring her without sounding like I was putting her down, which I didn't want to do in any case. And, on top of that, I didn't want to deny the very real feelings of loss and regret that she clearly was feeling.

I hope I managed it okay. I don't regret the life I was given. And I don't want her to feel any more guilt or sorrow than she has already lived through.

Anyway, I felt better after the conversation. (The above mentioned difficult portion didn't last long.) I seemed to be less tense, I thought, after we hung up. And it occurred to me that I think some of my anxiety was due to worrying that my sense of self was going to evaporate. I think, once I had pictures of her, and a looming phone call, and maybe even a face-to-face meeting in the near future, I was starting to panic. I started to think that all of this was going to lead to a complete undermining of my identity, with a new person standing in my place.

The phone conversation seemed to ease my mind in that regard. It was as if I realized that this was providing some answers and some pieces to a large puzzle that is my sense of self. And it didn't mean that sense was going to go away, but that it might be a bit more complete in a way it hadn't been before. We had talked, for hours, and I was still here. And I still would be. This changes things, to be sure. But it doesn't destroy them. I'm still me. Just me with more of an idea of where I came from.

That doesn't mean I don't have any anxiety. But I don't feel nearly as overwhelmed as I did twenty-four hours ago. And that is a good thing, I think.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Time Keeps on Slippin', Slippin', Slippin'...

Events keep moving, whether I get my head together enough to post or not.

Last Friday I received pictures from my birth mother. Shelly put this perfectly... The pictures made all of this so much more real. She was a real person. I could see what she looked like. I could see what my half-brothers looked like. I, and others, could see some of my features in those grainy pictures. Suddenly, I felt even more scared than I had before.

Why was I scared? I'm not sure. I think because they had become more real. There were real people on the other end of this. They have feelings and hopes for all of this too. And what if I couldn't meet them? What if I couldn't live up to them?

Is that silly? I hope not. I know, intellectually, I think, that it's not about meeting hopes or expectations. But I suddenly felt worried about that.

But all told, I was still excited by everything, just a lot more nervous than I had been. And I had been pretty nervous. It feels like there is so much to take in and to process.

Now, today, this morning, I finally got the contact information. And we've started exchanging e-mails. It's so much nicer getting e-mails than having to wait weeks for the next letter. And I really can't imagine how much money I would be spending on express mail if e-mail wasn't an option.

I'm trying to build up the nerve for a phone call. I've never been really comfortable talking on the phone, I think. Well, that's not entirely true. I think I was really good at phone conversations when I was in high school. But I seemed to have lost the skill now that I'm older. I can talk to my family pretty well on the phone, but sometimes I even feel awkward with my siblings. So I'm hoping I can get over myself and screw up the courage to talk on the phone.

For almost three months I had no idea what was going on or how long it might take. Now things have just snowballed. It's hard to get a handle on things long enough to take a breath. But so far, I'm hanging on.