A Letter to My Birth Father

Though I didn't know how it would be received, I just couldn't quench my desire to know more about where I came from.

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I knew I couldn’t do anything right before the holidays.  Somehow, I knew that telling my birth father I had found him would not be received as smoothly and openly as it had been with my birth mom, and I didn’t want to add to the strong possibility of outright rejection, maybe even angry rejection.  From what my search revealed, he had a family–a wife and three kids.  And it was more than likely that none of them knew about my existence.

At the same time, I knew I had to proceed.  I couldn’t find a phone number or an e-mail address, and the only physical address I could find was that of his home.  I decided I would carefully construct a letter and hope that he would somehow be able to open it and read it privately.  I knew it would still be a shock to him, but at least if he opened it while he was alone, he might have some time to compose himself and decide how he wanted to handle the situation.

In the letter, I gave him some basic facts–my birth date, the name of my birth mother, and the fact that she told me that he was my biological father.  I indicated that I was not looking to disrupt his life, and that I would handle future communication in any way he chose in order to avoid any potential disruptions to his life.

I explained that I was an adoptee and was just curious about where I came from and what my background was, and that I wasn’t looking for money or anything else from him.  I drafted and re-drafted the letter to make sure it was written as delicately and respectfully as possible.  I put it in the mail on February 2, 2011.

Days went by, and then weeks.  I heard nothing.  What if he never received it?  What if someone else opened it and it caused a major problem?  What if it just looked like a piece of junk mail and was simply tossed in the garbage?  All of these thoughts floated across my mind, and I was getting anxious.  I thought I’d at least hear something.  Even if it was negative, I was sure I would have heard something.

Toward the end of March, I decided I had to write a follow-up letter.  I knew it was entirely possible, even probable, that he had simply ignored me and hoped I would go away.  But I just couldn’t.  Most adoptees I know are like me–they have this unquenchable thirst for knowledge about their roots. I just couldn’t drop it.

So on March 26th, I sent a short note acknowledging that I understood the fact that he may have received my first letter and was just not ready to respond, and that I respected the fact that this was not the type of situation that people normally come across in their daily lives.  Still, I said, I had no way of knowing that he actually received the letter and that I was planning to try some other methods of communication to make sure I would know he received it.

This time, it took less than a week.  There was a letter in the mailbox with my name printed on it.  No return address.  No cancellation stamp from the post office for some reason.  But I knew.  It was relatively thick.  Was that a good sign?  I came into the house and went into the living room to sit down on the couch to open it privately.  There were two pieces of paper.  The first was the March 26th letter that I had sent.  The second was a piece of yellow note pad paper, carelessly ripped from the pad.  All it said was “Dear Sir, I am NOT the party you are in search of.”  It was signed, but with one of those signatures that is illegible.  One where you know the person signing is being purposely careless or is just arrogant.

I was devastated, but not surprised.  I knew without a doubt that this man was my birth father and that he wanted nothing to do with me.  But I also knew this wasn’t the end.  It was only the beginning.  I wasn’t giving up.  Not when I knew I had three half-siblings out there whom I desperately wanted to meet.  Half-siblings who I felt had as much of a right to know that I existed as I had that they existed.  It wasn’t the end, for sure, but I had no idea yet about what my next move would be.