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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The story....of me

So, ive been meaning to put this down in written form for some time.
Thank you for the encouragement to put this out there.  Its a long story, so please take the time to read it over.  If you have questions, ask!
Its really kind of hard to lay out the emotions behind and in this.  So, with that said, I will try to flatten everything to fact.
I was born in Tacoma WA.
I was adopted, at age 3 days old.  By a young couple, he was an aspiring physician just out of residency, she was a young woman who wanted kids, but thought she could not have them (a few miscarriages).  I was born on June 24th, in the early afternoon.  Its funny to think that growing up, I was the only one I knew, present at my birth.  So, my heritage and birth developed some mythology and lore.
Well, it turns out, my adoptive mother happened to be 2 months pregnant at the time I was adopted. So, 7 months after I was adopted, they had their first born.  2 years after this, they had another, my little brother.  So, in a span of 2 years, they had 3 kids.  Im sure this was hard.  I can vaguely remember feeling somewhat bonded to my brother (the one 7 months younger), yet always thinking how different I looked.  He would often wake up in the middle of the night and sit on the the second to the bottom step and cry.  I would sit one step up from him and console him.  Anyways, I do not recall a time that I did not know I was adopted.
My concept of what that meant likely shaped who I am today.  I say this as I always felt I had this small space, deep in me that was reserved for her....the woman who carried me for 9 months.  It had the shape of her, I just didnt know her.
Growing up was difficult.  I felt like I never really bonded to my adoptive mom.  I loved her, but felt somehow that her gaze to my brothers, the hugs she gave, the stirring deep in her was somehow different towards me.  Oh how I always wanted that.  I wanted to feel the love that can cover any pain, any scrape, any fear of the dark-but I didnt.  I felt alien, alone, and confused.  As we grew up, there were many happy and sad aspects to our life.  As in any family, we struggled through the pain of contemporary life.  However, things were a little different for me.  I was acutely aware that I was different.  I had different skills, different abilities, and different needs than my brothers.  I didnt look like any of them.  I had no idea what I was going to look like, or if I would be good at chemistry, or if I would be a fast runner....I was a book that had no beginning and the next chapter would be written as life rolled on.  As a result of this, and a few other unfortunate profoundly dark events, I became very introspective and deeply sad.  Yet on the outside, I was a outspoken and often aggressive kid.
What I did "know" about her was:
She was 15 when I was born
She was from Wales
She was pretty, with long dark brown hair
She was significantly above average in school
That was it.  SO, in my mind, as a child the only thing I could really wrap my mind around was her hands, how her hands must be like mine.  I remember thinking about these hands when I was scared, or woke from a nightmare in the dark all alone.  These hands, like mine, reaching out to hold me.....
By the time I was 8, I had a large discovery.  At a satyr supper at church I found some partially consumed glasses of wine.  I loved the way the wine felt in me, how I was able to let go of the anger and fear I was shackled to every waking moment....and thus begins the struggle of my life-drug and alcohol dependency.  That first encounter with alcohol I ended up as a drunk 8 year old, I also discovered I had no off switch.  I drank myself into a black out.
I am not making a post about my struggles with drugs and alcohol, that is for another time.  Its safe to say that the void only grew as I got older.  I tried as hard as I could to mask this, to fill it with anything I could find, as the hurts of growing up mounted, my strategy to compensate and deal with life was to deaden my senses-in the end to near death.
Another aspect to note-when I was 9, we lived in England.  Dad was a flight surgeon and we lived far out in the country in a hamlet called Boxworth ( I remember sitting in this church!).  I saw the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Iona Brown played the 4 seasons.  That was it, I was going to be a violinist.  Over the next 6 years, I went from an awkward beginner to a national level highschool player.  I found that the music I could play on the violin somehow expressed every feeling I had no words for.  I found that practicing for hours on end every day was soothing.  The praise I sought from everyone around me fueled me to continue to be the best I could.
Back to the story.  So, I go to college, almost lose it all due to my addiction, I meet a lovely lass who captures my attention like no other.  I eventually persuade her that dating me was a good idea (which it was not).  She stayed by me through my rehab (5 months in patient), and once I came back to finish college, she headed off to graduate school.  As we developed a strong bond and love, she began to be curious about who I came from.  As our relationship moved to a marriage, she tried to encourage me to have the courage to find her.  At least to find out about the funky medical issues I had.  I fought this idea, I was so afraid she would be a disaster, not the beautiful angel of my dreams with the soothing hands that would find me in my dark sadness.
As time progresses, we build your typical suburban life, and we have kids.  This event rocked me at my core. For the first time, I held a hand that had the same blood as mine coursing through it.  A small precious little girl that would for better or worse be half of me.  The love I felt (and feel), actually caused me a deeper sense of sadness.  To know I would never have a mother feel the way I did about my child ripped my heart to ribbons.  20 months later, we had our second daughter.  Same thing, this amazing bond, amazing love, and it flowed between us!
In Jan of 2009, we decided to rennovate our home.  We moved to the basement, and at this time, for what ever reason, I decided it would be a good idea to finally find her.
My wife contacted an agency in WA state that serves as an intermediary with the court system to un seal adoption records and then would find the birth parents and even help to re-unite them if desired/possible.
I signed the papers...GAME ON.
It was nice to have the distraction of construction going on around us.  One day, early in the construction, I was on a conference call.  I was bored and decided to get the mail.  Nothing out of the ordinary, except a letter to me, from some stranger in WA.  I open it.  It was a letter from the intermediary-Her name is Sam.  I glanced over it, and put it down, not really reading any of it.  My wife comes into the room and reads it.  I can see in her eyes that something is off.  Really off.  She whispers "did you read this"?  I nodded no.  She points to a paragraph in the middle of the page, it started with "I am truly sorry to inform you, your birth father passed away in 1998".  Tears rolled or rather shot from my eyes.  I was devastated.  Suddenly this process was real and really painful.  The letter offered no answers, just fact.  A fact that killed a fragment of hope deep with in me.
As the weeks moved on, I got another letter.  I opened it as if it were a bomb...I slowly and carefully read it.  It told me that my birth mother was alive, and that she had two sons!  I had brothers!
The summer grew to fall. I was given the task of writing a non-identifying letter to my Mom.  This was with out question one of the hardest things to write in my life.
 Finally in October, on a Sat. evening.  We were out shopping for furniture we came home and  there was a message from Sam.  She said she had given the letter to my Mom and she wanted to talk to me!!!  TALK TO ME?
She told me to get a pen....I got a pen, I got paper, everything went into slow motion.  I clung to every second as if I were getting the coordinates to the largest stash of pirate treasure known to man.  It was my treasure, the moment I had waited for, yet feared the most.
She uttered her name, for the first time, I had a name for her.  Sam gave me her number and address.
I was spinning.  Here it was, 10pm on a Sat. night, and I now have something I had wanted more than anything else in my life.....what next?
GOOGLE!!!!!  As soon as the family went to bed, I got up, I googled her name.  She had a web site, I clicked on it, and there she was.  My first view of this beautiful woman who brought me into this world.  I just sat in the dark, in the dust, crying.
It turns out, she was a runner, marathons.  She is a very successful business woman, and executive officer in fact.  Most importantly, she seemed to have a wonderful life.  I did not sleep that night.  I kept playing the phone call out in my mind.  What would it be like?
I called her at 1pm sharp on Sunday afternoon.  The time between rings seemed like an entire lifetime.  Finally, I heard it "Hello".  I introduced myself, I said "We can play 20 questions times 200"!
We talked for 5 hours straight that day.  It was amazing, every word, every detail filled in the the blank page of the coloring book I call my life.  I learned that she came over from Wales when she was 6, her father was an Aerospace Engineer and her mother was a professional ballet dancer...SWEEET.
She told me she would still celibate my birthday every year.
OH, how that blew my heart to bits.....
I quickly learned not to look back and play what if, but live in the moment, to enjoy this connection and not wish on what could never be.
It was like falling in Love....
It turned out that my brothers had no idea that I existed.  She was now faced with telling them.  I was faced with telling my adoptive parents.  We chose a Tuesday, 5 weeks after our first conversation to tell our respective parties what had transpired.
My conversation was ok but very strange.  They tried to be supportive but the question of why, and what does this change loomed.
My Mom had a different experience.  She took my brothers out for dinner, sat them down and said she had something to tell them.  Oddly enough, the younger of the two blurted out "We have another brother dont we?"....she said yes.  They immediately wanted to talk to me.

We then planned to meet, which was equally amazing and draining at the same time.  We met at O'hare, I had just returned from a trip to MN and she came off the plane in bright orange cashmere...which if you know me, that is my kind of lady!

I could write on and on about this.  Its safe to say that it has been an overwhelming gift.  One that makes the sadness, anger, sense of rejection, and struggle all worth it.  More importantly, this story is still being written.  We have more work to do.  My relationship is not where I want it to be, daily life and circumstance has caused some distance.  I need to fix that or work to change that.
Most importantly, I know that she loves me and has always loved me.  It filled the deep and painful Mom shaped void that tripped me up for most of my life.
I can say, my life is changed for ever.
I Love You Mom.


  1. Your story brought tears to my eyes, beautifully written.

  2. My husband is also adopted, and also struggles with the not knowing. This is a beautifully moving story, and I wish you the best of everything moving forward...