I wrote the below letter to my birth father in August 2012.
I’m sure Jerry told you he met with me for a few minutes at his office while I was on my way to a meeting in New York City in May. He indicated that you were not interested in pursuing a relationship, and I completely understand and respect that decision. I know it’s not personal, and I don’t take it that way. I’m sending you this last letter not to try to convince you to change your mind, but in hopes that you will understand my need to pursue one final matter.
I want you to know that I have only recently come to realize your wife passed away shortly before I sent my first letter to you. I’m sure that probably compounded the emotions you were going through. I am very sorry for your loss, and I apologize for the unfortunate timing of my initial communications with you.
I’m not sure how much detail Jerry got into with you about our conversation, but this last matter is so important to me that I wanted to make sure that nothing got lost in translation. This is my reason for sending you this letter directly. As I said when we met last August, I have a seemingly unquenchable thirst for knowledge about my background and roots. I may have told you that I always wondered whether I had any siblings in this world, and when I found out that you had three children, all I wanted to do was meet them!
It’s really hard to explain, but as an adoptee, I always wondered if I looked like anyone that I was related to by blood and if we shared any similar traits. That was missing from my life growing up, and there was a void that wasn’t necessarily tangible, but I always knew it was there. I knew my parents loved me, and I have always had a great relationship with them, but I have spoken to many adoptees over the years, and most (if not all) indicate that they have had very similar experiences.
My own children, Justin and Olivia, are also starting to be curious about what it means to be adopted, and will undoubtedly be asking more and more questions about their background and roots as they get older. I feel strongly that I will need to be completely honest with them about what I believe to be true so they will be able to explore their own feelings about it and make their own decisions about how they want to go about dealing with it in an age appropriate way.
I asked Jerry whether he thought you would one day be comfortable with me reaching out to Ryan, Scott, and Brooke, and he said he didn’t think so. I can’t say that I was surprised, and I tried to put myself in your shoes and think about how I would feel in a similar situation. I think Jerry also understood my perspective, and I’m hoping that you will too. Regardless, I know that it’s an awkward situation.
Jerry suggested waiting some years until after his/your generation passes, but I know that I’m not comfortable with that, and I’m not sure what a long delay like that would accomplish. My ideal situation would be to be able to contact them with your blessing. I wouldn’t reach out right away, because I would want to give you some time to process the thought of that and give you the opportunity to explain whatever you would want to them before that.
Stuart, I’m not trying to be difficult — I’m really not. This is just something that I feel that I should be able to do at some point, and I would hope that as adults, you would want your kids to make their own judgments about me and decide for themselves whether any or all (or none) of them would want to be in contact with me.
Jerry may have told you about the Family Tree DNA test that I did. The results confirm that I am of Eastern European (i.e., Ukraine, Lithuania, Russia) Ashkenazi decent on my paternal side. I truly believe in my heart that you are my biological father, and I am happy to have met you, however this turns out.
I can’t pretend to know what the circumstances of your life were in 1970 or what your thoughts or feelings are about this situation now, and I don’t think it would be fair of me to speculate. What I do know from all of the research I have done, though, is that the world has changed substantially since then. So many things that were kept a secret are no longer secretive and, in my opinion, that’s a good thing. I know you have your own views and that those views may or may not changed over time. I would like to take this opportunity to try to convince you that honest and open dialogue generally tends to lead to the most positive outcome and I hope you can keep an open mind to that end.
I know when I first contacted you about this, it was quite a shock, and that if your kids are brought into the conversation that it would probably create at least a temporary level of discomfort. I don’t know them, of course, so I can’t speculate about how they will react. My hope is that they would be understanding and appreciative about being looped into an open and honest dialogue about this set of circumstances that arose unexpectedly for you.
As I said earlier, I will not reach out to Ryan, Scott or Brooke until you have had a chance to adequately process this and talk to them first. I know this isn’t the easiest path, but hopefully you will ultimately agree with me that it’s the right one. Thank you for reading this letter through and considering my perspective. As always, please feel free to contact me if you would like to talk further about this or anything else.
Thanks very much,