It was only a two hour drive, but it felt like it took days. My adoptive sister and I hopped in her car and headed down the road, on our way to meet Ava, my biological sister. And I was nervous.
My sister Terri is almost 10 years my senior. Our mom struggled with healthy pregnancies, and my sister was born prematurely. A few years later, our sister Bunny arrived, but much too early, and she didn't survive. The doctor warned mom that any future pregnancies might result in her death as well. And that's where my story with this family began. My sister was 9 years and 9 months old when they brought me home.
Because of our age difference, Terri has been somewhat of a "second mother" to me. We were never close enough in age to have any sibling rivalry--no fights over toys, or clothes. By the time I was 8 years old, she had moved out and started her own life. But for the huge age gap, we have always been the very best of friends. In my teenage years, when I felt unable to talk with our parents about problems and concerns, my sister was only a phone call away, and sometimes, because we only lived a few hours from each other, I would hop in my car and spend the weekend with her.
She had been cautiously excited for me when I found my birthmother, and was heartbroken with me when Mary chose to stop all communication. She watched helplessly as I struggled to understand how a mother could actually want nothing to do with her child. And when my new journey began this year to locate my half siblings, I suspect that her heart ached with worry that I might be facing another huge disappointment. But as the process began, she started searching with me, and it was actually her that located the very first photo of my birthmother. She was lovingly supportive, and so, it only made sense to me to bring her with me to meet Ava for the first time. The irony is that, during all of these years of wondering where my siblings were, my two sisters---adoptive and biological---only lived two hours from each other.
As we drove, we filled the time with funny stories----trying to keep my mind calmed. I was nervous about meeting Ava, but probably less than I would have been if she and I had not been communicating through email for the previous months. Part of me felt like I already knew her, but I worried what she might think of me when she saw me in person. I suspect she was worrying about the same thing.
When we finally pulled up in front of her house, I walked towards her front door and saw her standing on her porch. I was going to be very casual, but I found myself walking towards her quickly with my arms open to hug her. And as we embraced, I was embarrassed to find myself crying, saying "Hi Ava" and just squeezing her. The feeling seemed to be mutual as she looked a little teared up as well. I didn't know it at the time, but Terri had lagged behind and had taken photos of our first moments together. Pictures I will treasure forever.
Ava invited us into her home and showed us the improvements she was working on----she's extremely industrious and puts me to shame in the "do it yourself" department. She also introduced us to her chickens---something a city girl like me finds hilarious. Then we went to lunch and spent the afternoon visiting and laughing. The entire time, I kept thinking how amazing it was that a year previously, I didn't even know her name....and now, I had a new sister that I loved.
Her life has been a hard one, but she is a strong woman and has made the best of her circumstances. Our mother only lives about 20 minutes away from her, but they haven't spoken in over 15 years. I don't know all the details, but it's clear to me, from what ALL the siblings have said, that Mary isn't a particularly "motherly" type of individual.
And that's when it came together for me. My life, the one I had "inherited" through my adoption, was a bigger blessing that I had ever realized before. Yes, I had grown up in a home where there was an abundance of material items, and I had never experienced anything close to poverty. I had had opportunities for guitar lessons, piano lessons, and travel, and undoubtedly many other things that Mary would not have been able to offer me. But it was clear that the most important thing I gained was a loving relationship with a mother. A woman who is one of my very best friends. I find myself wondering what my life might have been like if Mary had made the decision to keep me all those years ago. I suspect I would be estranged from her as my siblings are.....and it makes me sad. I feel such a sense of gratitude that I have been given the chance to find Don, Ron and have these new family members and enlarge that circle in my life. And through this experience, I've been able to recognize the biggest blessing that has been in front of me all along.
I love that you've been able to connect with your siblings! AND that you are able to see the blessings of adoption in your life. :)