Two years ago I received my birth records, and found my birthmother within 4 weeks. The information under father said only his birthdate, and UNKNOWN. My heart sank when I read this because I honestly believed I would be finding ALL of the missing pieces. Did someone actually believe that this was ok to withhold this from me? Adoption....secrets, lies, fear, deception.
Within months of contacting my mother, we scheduled a reunion. It was everything made for a Hallmark movie. The video setting was ready to capture that first embrace, there were tears and love overflowing. There were new relationships and memories forming. It was beautiful and heartbreaking all at once, but then I went straight to the point and asked about my father. Then there was awkwardness, quiet avoidance, and skirting around the subject. I took a deep breath and swallowed the lump in my throat deciding it was too risky to rock the boat. I don't want to lose everything I've worked so hard for. My mother has been found, she wants a relationship with me, and we will get to my father later. She just needs time.
On my last day of a week long reunion ( I know that's a loooonnnggg time for a first meeting) my mothers husband asked if we could have a private conversation. My mother quietly sat by while her husband told me " we understand if you want to find your father, but we do not wish to be a part of it, and we would hope that you do that in private". He added that when I really think about it, it's my mother I have probably thought of all of these years anyway. Whoa!?!?! Wait? What? I cried, and thanked him for his love and support of my mother, but inside I was deeply hurting. It was the only time during my reunion that I wanted to slip back to my hotel room, and sit alone in my feelings That of course did not happen, so I had to put on a happy mask and disguise my true feelings ( adoptees are pretty good at this).
What I wish I was brave enough to say was DO NOT tell me who I thought of or didn't think of. What if the shoe was on the other foot, and it was you who was kept away from your sons? Would it be ok then, because you're just the father? Did you never think of your father?
So I am a stubborn girl and I decided FINE, you don't want to help me, then I will do it all by myself. I am so used to going at it alone. I had his birthdate and my mothers sister in law had slipped the name Gary. She had told me that she wanted me to know my father loved my mother very much. She shared with me that my grandfather told lies about my father to keep him away. My father had wrote many letters to my mother and my grandfather threw them all away. She has no idea that he fought hard to talk with her father, to share his feelings and love. My grandfather had made his decision. His daughter would not be a part of Gary's life and either would I. I started searching online anyone with the name Gary, the same birthdate, and anyone who lived within a four state area. I wrote random Gary's letters saying.... I know this is crazy, but could you be my dad? No responses. I was like a crazy, stalking weirdo. I eventually decided to take my chances with a DNA test. I carefully calculated the perfect amount of saliva and prayed that the spit would lead me to my father. 7 weeks later, and much detective work on my part, I found Gary....my Gary...my father. I did it!
He received my letter, and in the same week it was sent I was talking with my father over the phone. I wish I could adequately share with you the love and excitement in his voice as he shared with me how happy he was to have been found. He said I was never a secret, and that he always thought of me telling friends and family somewhere out there I have a daughter. The best news was that his home was only 1 hour away from my adoptive family who had just moved to Florida. How perfect is that? I can visit my parents and meet my father, so I planned a trip.
My adoptive mother was very hurt when I found my mother that I did not include her in on every detail. We weren't exactly close, and I've always needed to protect myself from her hurtful words. My main concern was that I didn't want to hurt her. I decided to be more open and sharing with my adoptive parents while navigating meeting my father. We had great talks about my fears, and the feelings I always had growing up, but they could have never known about because I stayed quiet to guard their heart. They were loving, supportive, and I felt an extreme amount of guilt that I had not trusted them with my heart the first time around meeting my mother. My adoptive parents really wanted to meet Gary, but inside I was still cautious, and wondered could Gary and I truly be ourselves and have the conversations I wanted to have with my parents present? I was in full on good adoptee daughter mode wanting to not hurt them and please them so we all traveled to my birthfathers home together. I worried the whole car ride there if my mother would say something inappropriate, would she be judgmental or was I worrying for no reason? On the car ride there my mother passes me her phone to show me some photos that she had collected to share with Gary. Beautiful baby photos, sweet little pig tail photos throughout my childhood, and memories up into the present. There was one photo that I just looked horrible in....dreadful jr high years with big bangs and chubby cheeks. Embarrassed I said, "oh please don't show this one, its awful". We arrive and my mother video tapes every move we make, it's a relief to wrap my arms around him, but I know we both feel like we are under a microscope and this is not how I pictured this meeting happening. My mother whips out her phone, and she shares one photo, extending her arm and giggling. It wasn't that she shared the photo I asked her not to share. I would be totally vain, and if my father truly loves me he is going to love any photo of me, right? It was that she ONLY showed that one photo which felt like to spite me. No beautiful baby photos, no heartfelt thank you for giving us such a precious gift, just that one photo and I wanted to cry.
Gary calls me all of the time, just to talk about nothing or tell me a story. He wrote me a 10 page letter sharing about his life and he was so open and honest I felt like I've always known him. He isn't perfect, in fact he's a little rough around the edges, but that's what I love most about him. He trusts me with it all. Reunion is not for the faint of heart and I'm not certain I prepared myself to be cut open for all to see. There is beauty, heartache, raw emotions, and I'm leaning heavily on grace.
When my adoptive mother came to KC for a visit this fall she stated that her and my adoptive father have decided if Gary wants to be a part of my life, he would need to come visit me....not me always going to see him. I am a grown adult....and they have decided. Are you kidding me? Not to mention I've met him once. There's no track record of me only putting in the effort and not him. Not to mention this is none of their business. She then added..."he didn't look at your photos very well". She has so much fear, that she stirs the pot with a big ol' spoon of he doesn't really love you. I thought the love of a mother would come along side me and say look how he looks at you, of course he loves you, who wouldn't.
I hope Gary can feel my love and know within his heart that his daughter never gave up. He was that important and he is more than enough. We both are.