The search for my birth mother began as soon as I legally became old enough to search. Early searching was slow, tedious and yielded no worthwhile results. After the advent of the Internet, searching became easier and for the first time, I was making strides in my search.
I was often asked, “Why do you want to meet her?” “What will you say?” It was simple. I wanted to let her know I had a good life and I didn’t hold any resentment toward her for the choices that she made. I couldn’t imagine what her life must have been like or the feelings she must have dealt with when she chose adoption for me – her baby.
My searches primarily centered around Seattle and Washington State since that was where I was born. Every time I would find a phone number or address, she had already moved with no forwarding information. I was able to contact the father of her fifth child and he was sympathetic to my cause even though he had had no contact with her in several years. He sent me some pictures he had of my mother when they were together. The day I received these pictures in the mail was the first time I ever laid eyes on the woman who had carried me, gave birth to me, and tried to give me a good start in life. She was beautiful.
Eventually the Internet spawned social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Though I still had no concrete path laid out to find her, the many searches I’d begun gave me hope. One morning I woke up to an email from a search angel who had helped me at many crossroads along my journey. He told me that a Facebook profile had recently been created under my mother’s name and the limited information he could access without being her “friend” indicated that she was likely the person we had been chasing for so many years.
I opened my Facebook account and searched by the information he provided me. There she was on my computer screen. Two simple buttons appeared by her name, “Send Friend Request” and “Send a Message”. I clicked them both. My message was short and to the point. I let her know I wanted nothing more than to know her and for her to know me. My life was good and I wanted her in it– in whatever manner she wished.
The days that passed were the most agonizing of my search. Waiting for Facebook to send me a notification stating my “Friendship had been Confirmed.” Would my mother accept me? This simple act that Facebook created has suddenly became the symbol of a question I had struggled with my whole life. Would this woman who chose to give me away accept me into her circle after all these years? The uncertainty was killing me.
My search angel was on the trail since we had found this fresh, accessible information. He searched through her friends and discovered one who indicated she was her roommate. He messaged this woman and asked her to call him, stressing the delicate nature of the situation. Within hours he had made contact with my mother and gave her my phone number explaining how much this contact would mean to me. I had barely finished reading his email updating me and preparing me for the possibility she would call when it happened; my cell phone rang and my life changed forever.
I had rehearsed in my mind a million times what I would say and how I would say it when and if this time ever came. In the moment, my mouth was dry and my mind was blank. She seemed as nervous as I was. It turned out she was currently living only four short hours away from where I lived and had lived most of my post-adoption life. It was the Friday of Labor Day weekend and she asked if I would come see her. I knew if I didn’t embrace this opportunity, I might not ever get another one. Thankfully my husband was completely supportive and the next morning we set out not only to meet my mother, but her four-year-old son whom I hadn’t known even existed.
I contemplated every detail of this reunion. What should I wear? How should I fix my hair? Do I bring a gift? I realized none of the superficial details mattered. I was on my way to meet my mother. I brought along photo albums, scrapbooks, and other mementos of my life to fill her in on the last 32 years she had missed.
We pulled up to her apartment building where she was anxiously awaiting our arrival. We had barely stepped out of our mini van before she grabbed me, wrapped me in a hug and said, “I am so happy to see you again.” In that moment I felt like my journey of a thousand steps was coming to an end. What I didn’t realize was that it was just beginning.
Meeting a birth parent is so often depicted in the media as a blissful, surreal, perfect moment. A moment when the stars align and every hope and dream is met and surpassed. I can’t say this was true for me, but I can say that holding the woman who brought me into the world in a tight embrace healed a small part of me that I didn’t know needed healing.
After our visit concluded, we ended with the typical exchange of information and promises to keep in contact. I bought her a card to reload her prepaid cell phone so she would have means to text or call, and we agreed to plan another visit in a month when her biological mother could come up from the South and we could all spend time together. I tried to say good-bye to my youngest half-brother but he couldn’t tear himself away from the video game he had resumed sometime that morning long enough to acknowledge our departure– which wasn’t surprising since he barely had acknowledged we were there at all. As we started our trip home and crossed the state line back into our home state, my husband commented, “What do you think will happen to them? Do you think he’ll end up in the system too?”
I reflectively replied to him, “I don’t know. All we can do is hope that we can stay in touch and intervene if things get rough for them.”
“Well, if he does end up in the system, I think we should try to get (custody of) him.”
I gave him a puzzled look, but his automatic thought process warmed my heart. I had instinctively thought the same thing but had wondered if it would be a hard sell for him. Thankfully, he verbalized the answer to my silent fear before I had even fully processed everything we had just seen and heard.
When we got back home I sent my birthmother a text message to let her know we had made it safely. She replied, “Good. I was starting to worry. Love you and talk to you soon.” In the days to come, she didn’t return my texts or calls, and I started to realize that I may never hear from her again. What I didn’t know was that there would soon be a turn of events that would once again forever change my life course and add yet another layer to the already stranger-than-fiction story that I was living through.
I had met my mother for the second time.