This is my first blog. I am not a writer, but most of my adult life; people have told me that I need to write a book. I told part of my story to a psychologist once. He looked at me and said, “You need to write a book!” I was even interviewed by someone else who wrote a book.] Like most people, my life’s been both boring and exciting. It’s been filled with adventure and mishap, complication and simplicity, confidence and insecurity. I’ve had times of great health and devastating sickness, sound mind and dark depression. I invite you to enjoy this journey with me in all of its honesty, raw, expressive, eloquent and verbal vomit.
My first story begins as a child. I am adopted. I’ve always known this, but I can’t recall a specific moment when I was told. My whole life, I secretly wanted to find my real parents. I wondered if I had brothers or sisters, but most of all, I wanted to look like somebody and be like somebody.
What’s wrong with me?
I grew up in a family that looked alike. Even though my brother and sister were adopted as well, they both had dark hair and dark eyes. They were cute and kind of pudgy. Then there was me; too skinny, stringy hair, hazel eyes and bucked teeth. As far as personalities go, I was active, adventurous and liked to explore. I wanted to go places, do things, interact. My family enjoyed watching TV and eating. There was never a lot of communication or conversation between any of us. My parents tried to convince me that we lived the “Good Life.” I was clearly a misfit for not wanting this kind of life. My parents and siblings acted as if there was something wrong with me. They looked at me with disdain when I complained, and would say to each other, “Just leave her alone, you know how she is. Ignore her.” I saw other families enjoy each other, go on vacations, play games and share in family jokes. The children in those families were not adopted. I came to believe that adopted children were not as deserving as “normal” children. I deemed myself “not normal” and my self-esteem plummeted.
It wasn’t until much later in my adult life when I realized, there was nothing wrong with me. Seeking fun and adventure IS normal as well as fun! I was a type A, sanguine personality growing up in a type B phlegmatic household.
March 2018 my life took an unexpected direction. I received a phone call: “Hello Rene’, I don’t want to overwhelm you but…. I think I am your aunt Sarah.”
The call that changed everything
Let me backtrack just a bit. The month is October, the year 2017. My husband bought me a subscription to Ancestry.com as an anniversary gift. As you can imagine, I was curious to find out my heritage and finally fulfill my secret wish to find my family. Honestly, I didn’t think this would happen. To my surprise, up popped a 99% match! Holy Sh–! His name was Wally. I just stared at my computer. Could this mean what I think it means? Do I really have a family out there? My hands grew clammy and I had an ice-cold pit in my stomach, it manifested into a migraine that didn’t go away for months. My first feelings were of hope and fear. Would he want to meet me? What if I was a secret and by notifying him, I would open up a can of worms? What if they already knew about me and didn’t want to meet me? Was he my father? Did I have a brother? It was an emotional roller coaster, nausea and all. Should I follow through? Do I dare even hope? What if I get rejected? Could I handle rejection? My birth mother didn’t want me; my adopted family doesn’t speak to me (a story for another time). What if they were weird? The next month was fraught with back and forth indecision. My emotions were raw, vulnerable and fragile, and I still had a migraine. After much prayer and meditation, I decided to trust in God, have faith and take the leap. I reached out. Nothing. OK, I thought, this is my answer; they’re not interested. My heart sank, I was sad and disappointed. I decided to put it behind me and go on with my life. Four months went by, then the phone call.
“Hello Rene’, I don’t want to overwhelm you but…. I think I am your aunt Sarah; you have three half-sisters. Would it be okay if they reached out to you?”
The rollercoaster of emotion turned into a tornado. I had this sensation as though I was outside of my body watching everything unfold from a distance, like I was watching someone else’s life. I felt dizzy, butterflies in my stomach and I couldn’t feel my feet on the ground. Was this real? Was I dreaming all of this and soon I would wake up? Was I dead and this is what my life would have looked like if I were alive?
We talked about my birthday and the location of my birth. They matched the date my mother gave birth to a baby girl named Christina Marie. I had a name! Not only did I have a name, but I was also baptized. This thought embraces my soul. My mother loved me enough to have me baptized and give me a name before she put me up for adoption. I am brought to tears every time I think about that.
I sent Aunt Sarah a picture of me. There was no doubt in her mind; I was my mother’s daughter! Later I sent pictures of my birth certificate and adoption papers which confirmed what my aunt had already known. So, who was Wally? He is my mother’s brother. My father remains unknown. I was told that unbeknownst to my mother, he was married, and left her as soon as he found out she was pregnant.
The one that got away
Over the next several months via phone calls and video chats, the story unfolded. In 1965 there was a lot of shame surrounding the pregnancy of an unmarried girl, not only for the unwed mother, but her family as well. Since my mother’s family was Catholic, adoption was the only option. As was common at the time, my mom was secretly sent away to a home for unwed mothers, under the pretense of expanding her nursing education. Later, my mom married and had three legitimate daughters. It wasn’t until after her death in 1984 that my sisters found out about me. Their father sat them down and said, “I have something to tell you.” Imagine their shock and surprise when they found out they had a sister! Over the years, they would look at girls about my age and wonder, is that my sister?
I don’t know how to express what I felt when I found out they knew about me, wondered about me and wanted to meet me. I struggled most of my life with feelings of not being wanted. Now, somebody wanted me. Not just my aunt, but I had two uncles and three half-sisters! Again, a roller coaster of emotions, nausea and migraine included, flooded me. Will they like me once they get to know me? What will I do if they don’t like me? Do they want a relationship? Do they wish I never reached out to them? Am I prepared to invest the time and raw emotion it will take to create relationships with people I don’t know? Can I do this?
Here we are two years later. One of my uncles has passed away, I was blessed to have met him and visit several times during his illness. I am developing relationships with his wife, my aunt, uncle and three sisters. Some moments we are cautious, other times excited, and we stare at each other. We have the same eyes, toes, adventurous spirit and quirky sense of humor. I have the same smile and mannerisms as my mother, which brings my aunt and uncle to tears. They have told me, it’s as if I have brought their sister back. My sister has exclaimed on more than one occasion, “It’s like you were gone for a long time and now you’ve returned!” I am home.