What My Search Has Meant to Me
Gina's search for her birth family reinforced her love for her adoptive one.
I was born November 26, 1965, in Mobile, Alabama and was immediately placed for adoption. August 12, 1966, I was adopted by two of the most amazing and loving people in this world. I was taken from Montgomery to Huntsville, Alabama where I was raised my entire life in the same house, with the two same loving parents who are still the most important people in my life.
From as early as I can remember, I was told that I was adopted. What did it mean to be adopted? I was told that it meant I was wanted and loved and had been an answer to many prayers. I was told that the woman who gave birth to me was a very special woman and that she had given my parents the most precious gift of all, a new daughter. We have a special day every year– August 12– it is called “Gina’s Day.” My parents celebrate that day because that is the day I was put into their arms for the very first time.
There has never been a day that I’ve doubted the love of my momma and daddy. I have always known that I come first in their life. They are so unselfish, and I am sure they have done without a lot of things so I could have what I needed and wanted.
A few years after I was adopted, my parents told me I was getting a little brother. Brent joined our family in November of 1969. I was so excited! We were a family of four now. Momma, Daddy, Gina, and Brent. We had a wonderful life growing up. We were given opportunities to play sports and take music lessons, we traveled, and we were raised in the Church. We just had a picture-perfect life. We were the all-American family. Of course, as Brent and I grew older and into our teens, we acted like a lot of normal teens. We got mad at our parents when they only tried to do what was best for us. We would sometimes even be so mean as to tell them they were not our real parents. Ohhhhhh how I regret those words! I never realized the pain it must have caused Momma and Daddy.
As Brent and I both grew older, I think the “want to know” who our birth mothers were became more of a strong curiosity to both of us. We had always been told by Mom and Dad that if we ever wanted to find out, they would be glad to help us search. Many years have passed now, and Brent and I are both grown and married and have families of our own. But that “want to know” feeling never totally went away for either of us. Brent decided several years before I did that he was ready to search for his birth mother. And he found her. I am not exactly sure of all the details, but to listen to Brent tell about it, it was not a very pleasant reunion. Brent met with his birth mother one time and that has been all the contact that he has wanted with the woman he was so determined to find.
I had decided after hearing from Brent about his experience I did not want to search for my birth mother. But several years have gone by. I have seen on TV and read in magazines about adoptees finding their birth families and having these wonderful reunions– I’ve also read about reunions that were not-so-wonderful. That “want to know” feeling was once again aroused in the back of my mind.
In Alabama, August 2000, the state passed a law to make all sealed adoption records open to adoptees and to birth mothers. I did not decide until this point that I was really ready to find out the answers to my questions, to satisfy that “want to know” feeling I had had for years. I sent for my original birth certificate, and it came in the mail after three weeks. I looked at the piece of paper, not really knowing what I was getting into. It had my birth mother’s name on it and also a name for my birth father. There was also a place on my birth certificate where it said I had two older siblings. The search began to find these people. I had some help from what we call adoption “Search Angels” on the internet. It was easy to locate the man who was listed as my birth father, since men do not change their names like women do when they marry.
It only took one day to find that the man listed as my birth father had died in 1979. It was a weird feeling, but really no sadness because I learned that this man had not been a very nice person most of his life– and I’d never known him. I then began the search for my birth mother. It only took three days until we found her still living in the city of Mobile, where I was born. I was a nervous wreck, I did not know if I wanted to call this lady or not.
My “Angel,” Barbra, called my birth mother for me and then called me to share with me what she had been told. We were right, the lady was my birth mother. She was not very happy about us finding her. Actually, she was in shock. She said she had never dreamed in 35 years that I would come find her one day. She shared some things with Barbra and basically it boiled down to the fact that she wanted no contact with me. She did tell Barbra about the two sisters that I have. Then she said something that really shocked us. The man listed on my birth certificate as my father was not my father. She said she had been separated and had an affair and became pregnant with me. I was hurt by some of the things my birth mother said, and I did not know how I was supposed to act or feel. I never wanted to intrude on this woman’s life or cause her any pain. It was obvious that I was causing her to relive a time in her past she said she had tried to forget and put behind her. I was hurt. I was angry. Being a mother myself, I could not understand how any mother would not want to know how their own child had turned out. She did not care.
I thought about it for a few days and decided I would try to locate my two sisters that were listed on my birth certificate. My birth mother had given some information about the two girls so it made it a little easier to locate them. Still, without the help of these “Angels” I would have been lost.
I was able to locate and get in contact with both of my half-sisters. It was strange talking to two girls that I did not know who shared the same birth mother as me. To make a long story short, these two girls had a very hard life growing up, and are still– to this day– having it pretty rough. Hearing the stories of their lives made me appreciate MY life, and how I had been raised, even more.
I was just in shock that we could be so different. I have two sisters out there and have nothing in common with either one of them. I have met Nena, the sister closest in age to me. She needed some help and we allowed her to come stay with us in our home. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get to know my “sister.” It was the most awkward “reunion” or meeting I have ever experienced in my life. We still had nothing in common and it was hard to even have a conversation. It was so obvious how different our lives were and how different WE were. There was no sisterly bond there, none at all. It was sad. While I was talking to Nena one day, she mentioned something about our younger brother. I was shocked! I had no idea about any brother. My birth mother, Annie, had not mentioned him at all when she was talking to my “Angel” and giving her information. I learned that I had a brother who is almost 3 years younger than me. I was excited at first, but then I had the fear of rejection that I had received from Annie. I finally decided to look up his phone number and give him a call. He was not home when I called, so I left a message and within a few hours he was calling me back.
Something was different about Mike. I could tell as soon as we had talked for a few minutes that he and I had a lot in common and that we had both found someone who would turn out to be very special in each of our lives. After just one week of chatting on the internet and swapping emails, we decided we did not want to wait any longer to meet. My daughter and I made the trip the following weekend to meet my brother and his family. When we met, it was as if we had known each other forever. We had 33 years of catching up to do. Mike and I do have a lot in common. We talk often, usually daily, on the phone or online. We are already planning two future vacations to visit each other.
The past month and a half I have been on what Barbra,my Angel, told me would be the roller coaster ride of my life. Emotions have been high and low. I had feelings of rejection from a woman who had given birth to me and who wanted nothing to do with me. I found my two sisters, and have come to realize that they are just two girls who have the same birth mother as I do. We do not have the sisterly relationship I was hoping for. I have a wonderful new brother and sister in-law and a precious niece and nephew. It is hard to explain the feelings one goes through when finding these “missing” people that have been out there all my life, yet I never knew them.
When I ask myself or others ask me if I am glad I did this search to find my birth mother, I have to say yes. I am glad I did it. I am not 100% happy with how everything turned out. But I am glad. Years of unanswered questions have been answered, and I have some more people in my life.
The most important thing that I have gained or learned from this is what it means to be a parent. Just because someone gives birth to you does not make you a mother or father. It takes a lot of love and caring and nurturing. It means being there for your child no matter what. It means putting that child first in your life and being willing to make sacrifices so that your child can have the life they deserve.
I am very thankful for “Annie,” my birth mother. I am thankful that she made the decision in November of 1965 to give me up for adoption. I was adopted and raised by two of the finest people on this earth. I never knew what to expect when I began to search for my birth mother and birth father. I know now that the only mother and father I ever need to know, are the two people I call “Momma and Daddy.” They have given their life for me to be the person I am today. No amount of searching could ever produce anyone to compare to them. I know that my parents have always cared about me and thank God every day that I was given to them.
If asked if I had this to do all over again, I would tell another adoptee to search for their birth mother and biological family…I would tell them to go for it, but to NEVER forget the love of the parents who raised you.
Thanks, Momma and Daddy, for everything. If it were not for your constant love and support, I would not be the woman and MOTHER that I am today.