It wasn’t long after I sent my August 2012 letter to Stuart, my birth father, that I received a call from his cousin Jerry. The three of us had met in Jerry’s office in Manhattan a year prior, but things seemed to be moving slowly. It seemed as if they were stalling and just hoping I would go away. I had met with Jerry one-on-one in May, and I didn’t get a sense that things would pick up on their end anytime soon.
Jerry wasn’t too happy that I reached out to Stuart directly. I had previously agreed to communicate through him. But I knew I was being played, and I wanted to make progress with my desire to meet my three half siblings. In my letter, I had stated my intentions clearly with no beating around the bush. I wanted to connect with my half siblings, but I wanted to do it with Stuart’s blessing.
Jerry saw no easy answer, I could tell. I was holding the cards. It would have been very easy for me to just reach out to them without giving them a heads up at all. But I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt and provide them with a chance to convince me that there was a compelling reason not to do it.
So Jerry said he thought the three of us should sit down and talk again. Once again, it would be in his office. Once again, he wanted me there alone. Once again, I would be going into a highly uncertain situation where I would be meeting with two men who would be viewing my presence with disdain, men who simply wanted me to go away and keep the untold secret of who I was to their family. To them, I was a threat, and that wasn’t the most comfortable situation to find myself in.
Jerry set the meeting for November 12th at 4:30. Again, I had a couple of months to think through my course of action. What would my approach be? What could I say that would make it more likely to leave with a favorable outcome? How could I treat this delicate situation so I could ensure that I would be leaving unharmed even?
The time between that call and the meeting was filled with anxiety. I wanted so bad not to screw it up, and thought about what I might say over and over, going back and forth about what would work and what would set them off. I did more research about my half siblings, longing for the day when we would connect, wondering whether my kids would meet and get along with Scott’s kids, their “cousins.”
Finally the day came. This time I was on my own. No travel companion. I drove to my parents’ house and then took the train from Croton-Harmon to Grand Central. Once again, I decided to get to the city early so I would have plenty of time to just chill. I walked swiftly down the street with stern eyes and purpose, like native New Yorkers do. Time passed too quickly; 4:30 was fast approaching. I felt the anxiety as surely as I would have had I gotten there with no time at all to spare.