It was time to meet with my birth father. I was alone, having traveled to Manhattan on a chilly November morning in 2012. Morning turned into afternoon, and suddenly it was almost 4:30. I had arrived around the corner from my final destination about a half hour prior, but I didn’t want to go in too early.
So I stood on the sidewalk near the doorway of another building, watching those who passed, pretending I was busy sending an important message or checking my voicemail. My anxiety heightened, and I felt an uncomfortable pit in my belly. I was going to meet with Stuart and Jerry, and I was afraid it would be confrontational.
As the time approached, I started walking toward the building. I arrived shortly, and went straight up to the law office that Jerry worked out of–a small office, no windows on the door or next to it. Once you were in, you were in.
When I entered, Jerry came out of his office and showed me to the conference room. He then went to get Stuart, who followed him in. We shook hands and everyone sat down. Once again, Jerry asked me to start.
“As I mentioned in my letter, I would like to meet my half siblings with your blessing,” I told Stuart. Jerry chimed in before Stuart could reply. “They will never accept you, and all you will do is cause pain.”
I said I didn’t understand how they could be so sure how they would react if they didn’t even know I existed. I also told them that I was continuing to communicate through them so they could take time to tell them in the manner they chose so my half siblings didn’t hear it out of the blue. They could put whatever spin they wanted to on it.
Stuart then added that his daughter was also on the edge and in need of professional help, and learning this news would create significant instability. He added that one of his two sons was also in a similar, although not as dire, situation. “If they were all in a good place, it would be a different story,” he said.
Once again, I knew they were blowing smoke, just trying to dissuade me from reaching out to my half siblings with a story that didn’t seem to be genuine, but one that would be difficult to challenge. “So what are you going to do?” Jerry asked. “We’ll decide how to proceed depending on what you say.”
I just looked at him, baffled. I wasn’t sure what he meant by that. “It’s not a threat,” he said. “For it to be a threat, there has to be a bullet and a gun, and there is no bullet and there is no gun.” It sure felt like a threat to me, and I tried to remain calm. It was difficult, given the circumstances.
“Why don’t you go wait for me in my office,” he said to Stuart. As Stuart got up to leave the conference room, Jerry looked back at me. He waited for the door to close and then reiterated, “Look, you’re not going to get anywhere with them.”
“Well, can I check in again after some time,” I asked. “Of course,” he said, “ but I don’t think the story will be different.” I decided that was the best I was going to get at that moment, and I thanked him. He got up to show me out, and I asked if I could say goodbye to Stuart. “I don’t think that’s a good idea,” he replied.
But I insisted. “Look, I may never get to see him again, and I would like to say goodbye.” He reluctantly obliged, and asked Stuart to come out of his office. We shook hands and I took one last look into the eyes of my biological father before turning around and walking out the door.