As this Sunday dawns. I stand at the threshold of my 48th year….and it’s time that I revealed the secret burden that I’ve been hiding from you the last few months.
This may divert from my usual “gee, this past year kinda sucked but was kinda OK” birthday post.
Because this last year was freaking AMAZING.
The kind of year of my life that I had always dreamed and hoped for.
It wasn’t perfect. But it was jaw-dropping at times…in all the best ways.
And a 47 year old mystery dissolved in a matter of minutes and a lifelong burden lifted.
Some of you may know that I was adopted when I was six weeks old. For some adoptees, myself included, this comes with a wagonload of questions, issues, etc.
Speaking for myself, I spent most of my life feeling unwanted and out of place, even with my own family and those closest to me. At home, at work, it didn’t matter. Apparently it’s quite common among adoptees, and I empathize with those among us who fought that battle in their life.
I always knew that I was adopted. It was never a secret, my parents told me from the moment that I was able to comprehend the concept.
And as kids are wont to do, I used that in shitty ways. I remember my mom being mad at me for something and my reply was “Well I’m gonna go find my REAL parents” (Sorry Mom) or words to that effect.
Of course I never did.
Until this past March.
The law preventing adoptees from accessing their original birth certificate was quietly changed in Missouri a couple of years ago and as of January 1, 2018 adoptees can now request their original birth records…so I did.
Unless you have no idea what your biological roots are, you may not have any idea how powerful the concept of not knowing who you are or where you came from can be. Now I did a DNA study a couple of years ago, which answered a few questions and you can find a post about it on this blog.
After sending in my requests, the months of agonizing wait ensued until a chilly Friday in March, when a nondescript envelope was waiting for me when I got home from work.
I’m pretty sure that I was weeping before the envelope was fully opened. Nope. I’m positive that I was. In fact, I pretty well cried that whole weekend and freaked the shite out of my kids who I kept trying to reassure between bouts of tears that I really was okay.
I called my sister before I even left the mailbox. She’s also adopted (from a different family) and would understand better than anyone what I was going through. We cried together on the phone and I promised to keep her informed as to anything I found out.
Here’s what I found out:
My birth name was Robert John.
This surprised me because I had fully expected to see “Baby Boy Jones” or something along those lines.
And it also listed my birth mother’s name but no father’s name. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, in literally 5 minutes, I located a likely individual matching the name, approximate age and profession (my parents had always told me that my birth mother was a nurse.)
I studied her Facebook profile, poring over her photos and wondered…could this be she?
Then I pondered what to do for several days. I realized that I was opening a 47 year old can of worms and possibly disrupting a peaceful life for her which was nothing that I took lightly. I did not want this to be a negative experience for anyone. I’m not that selfish.
The following Wednesday, I wrote a carefully worded letter and mailed it to the address that I had found with no expectations. In the letter, I expressed my thought that she could POSSIBLY be my birth mother and if she she was indeed my birth mother, I would understand if she could not respond to this letter, for whatever reason.
A few days later, I was elbow deep in replacing the rear brakes on my girlfriend’s car when my cell phone rang. I saw the area code and knew instantly who it was. I grabbed my phone and hustled to my car to have some privacy for this moment.
For the first time ever in my 47 years, I heard my birth mother’s voice.
Her voice was soft and kind as she confirmed that she was indeed my birth mother. She told me my birth father’s name and gave me a bit of the history of what happened.
I tried to keep it together and keep the conversation from getting too emotional. We ended the conversation after about 20 minutes agreeing to keep the line of communication open.
The feelings that followed are hard to put into words.
All I can say is I have a sense of peace about who I am and where I came from.
And a tremendous sense of relief. I had a host of fears about this contact. None of them came true.
I have creeped on my biological father’s Facebook page. My birth mother told me that he looks like Mark Twain. She’s not very far off. But I’ve taken no steps to communicate with him. I just have this gut feeling that it won’t go well. Knowing who he is is enough for me now.
And for the first time in my life, I am celebrating my birthday knowing exactly what had escaped me for all my years prior.
Join me as I raise my glass to 48, Daniel Gerard/Robert John. Thanks to all of your for being a part of the journey. If 48 is anything like 47, I’m in for a hell of good year!