The day that Americans were told President Kennedy had been shot, my birth mother was pregnant with me, feeling sick all the time, trying to support herself without the help of anyone, and running out of options. It was on that day that she decided to do what her mother had been telling her to do. It was time to go to a “home for unwed mothers” and place me for adoption. She would know me as Darlette.

She spent five months there and I was born in April of 1964. She said that if she could have kept me, she would have named me Darlette. After seeing me for only a few seconds, they took me away.

My adoptive parents changed my name and I didn’t know my birth mother had given me a name until much later. My family had already adopted a girl four years earlier. My parents never hid the fact that we were adopted.  I grew up knowing that my birth mother was out in the world somewhere, but I had never thought about finding her. Oh, I had fantasies about her being a famous movie star or maybe a singer in a rock and roll band, but that is where my thoughts of her ended.

In 1994, my husband and I were trying to have children of our own. I think that is what sparked my interest in knowing a little bit more about my birth parents. I started by getting non-identifiable information from the adoption agency. A very nice lady gave me a few sheets of paper. I was so excited that I read them in my car sitting in the parking lot. It said that I was born in 1960. What? I’m older than what I had been told I was? It also said that I had blonde hair and blue eyes. Now I was really confused. I have brown hair and brown eyes. Then it dawned on me. They had given me the wrong papers. My older sister that had been adopted from the same agency was born in 1960, and she in fact did have blonde hair and blue eyes. Thank goodness! I walked back into the adoption agency’s office and told the nice lady that she had made a mistake. She was very apologetic and asked me to come back the next day so I could get the correct information.

The next day during my lunch break, I went back to the adoption agency and I was handed the papers to my birth parents. I made sure that the birth date was correct before I left the office. Once I got back to my office, I started reading the papers and I noticed something funny. Next to the place where it said “Birth Mother’s Name,” was a white line. I knew at once it was Liquid Paper that was covering up her name. So, I slowly held the paper up to the light and there was my birth mother’s name. I couldn’t believe it. There was also Liquid Paper over her birth date, so I got that information too. The adoption agency must have been in such a rush to give me the correct set of papers that they gave me the original papers and kept the copies. My heart was racing so fast. I didn’t know what to do next. The next month, I got pregnant with my son and the papers were placed in a drawer where they stayed for about four years.

After work, one day, some coworkers and I went out and the subject of my adoption and birth mother’s name came up. They wondered why I hadn’t looked for my birth mother if I already knew her name. I told them that so many years had gone by and I thought my birth mother would probably not want to see me. I was scared really. Scared of what might happen if I were to meet her.

The next day, I was out with my husband at a restaurant that had magicians, psychics, and fortune-tellers. So, to kill some time before the show, I decided to pay one of the psychics $20, just for fun. I was asked by the psychic to give her something I held dear to me, so I gave her my wedding ring. Then, she asked me to ask her something I wanted to know about in my life. I thought about the conversation I had had with my coworkers the night before and I asked her, “Should I go look for my birth mother?” The psychic held my wedding ring in her hand and closed her eyes for what seemed like an eternity. When she opened her eyes, tears came streaming down her cheeks. She said to me, “I am sorry for getting so emotional, but I have never had a reading that strong. Your mother loves you and thinks about you often. Go look for her.”

The next day, I contacted a search company and gave them my birth mother’s name and birthdate and received a letter from them in about five days. The letter showed that there was only one person with that name that was born on that date. Thankfully, my birth mother has a very uncommon name, so she was very easy to find. She lived only one hour away from me.

I wrote a letter to her, mailed it off, and received a call from my half-sister the very next day. We met each other for the first time on February 27, 1999. It has been an emotional roller coaster for all of us, but I love my birth family so much! It was all worth it. I never get tired of telling people my story and even after 15 years, my birth mother and I tell whoever wants to listen to how wonderful it’s been to have found each other.

If I would have known what I know now, I would have done things a little differently and this is the advice that I give to anyone looking for their birth relatives: I changed so many lives by writing that letter to my birth mother. At the time, I was only thinking about myself and her. I didn’t think about everyone who was in her life and how this would make them feel. Your actions will cause a ripple effect in the lives of others and you need to be understanding of everyone’s feelings.

There are so many emotions that come into play after you are reunited, emotions that you may have never known existed. Many tears have been shed these past 15 years–tears of joy and tears of pain. My advice is to be mentally and emotionally prepared, as much as possible, for the unknown, and to be patient.

As I said, it’s an emotional roller coaster, but so worth the ride. Good luck!

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