I tracked down my biological father about five years ago, piecing together information provided to me by my birth mother and building on what I found in my web based search to confirm that I had the right guy. At around the same time, I also ordered some tests through Family Tree DNA, which was just another way for me to confirm certain information about my paternal lineage.
I guess finding him – or who I thought to be him – was the easy part. The hard part was what was to follow. Ignoring my letter, then denial about it when pressed, followed by a call from his cousin to try to find out what I wanted. The cousin, Jerry, started his voicemail message to me identifying himself as a New York City attorney. “But I’m not calling in that capacity,” said the message, as if I should feel threatened by the fact that he was some big time lawyer. “I’m calling as Stuart’s cousin – he asked me to act as his intermediary in our communication.”
I knew what those results would show.
I was lucky enough to meet Stuart at cousin Jerry’s office a couple of times after that initial message, but that’s not to say everything went smoothly – not by a long shot. The bottom line is that he has never acknowledged that he was the right guy, and he wasn’t interested in a relationship with me. When I eventually reached out to his three kids – my half siblings – I got the cold shoulder from them too.
I had told Jerry about Family Tree DNA, that I had ordered my results, and asked him whether Stuart would be willing to do the test. If he didn’t think he was the guy, then what would it hurt? And I knew deep down that I did, in fact, have the right guy. I knew what those results would show. But he declined, as if not doing it would continue to leave it as an open question.
Our correspondence ended a few years ago. It was done and I knew it. I was happy to have met my biological father twice in person, even though he didn’t have any interest in establishing any sort of ongoing relationship. It was the same with my half-siblings – maybe even worse. I received a couple of written replies from one of them and none from the other two. I haven’t met any of them in person, and that’s painful for me.
I have since learned to let it go and accept what is. From time to time, though, I still think about it. I wonder what it would be like for my kids to know their biological cousins, to become buddies with them and create good memories with them, like cousins do. I talk about it with them, especially with my son Justin, and he asks me why they wouldn’t want to know him. “I don’t know,” is my only reply usually. Sometimes I mention some of the complications and family dynamics that tend to come along with adoption, which is no different in my case.
One night this past summer, I was talking with Justin about it again. I decided to pull up my Family Tree DNA account to show him about my lineage. I hadn’t logged in in quite some time – no need to really. I knew what I knew, and it hadn’t made much of a difference anyway. I pulled up my list of matches, and there he was. Jerry – his picture and all. He had decided to order his own results earlier this year, and I was his top match! So why did he do it? I really have no explanation. Maybe he and Stuart wanted to know for sure what I had been claiming was true all along. Now he did. And I finally felt vindicated.