We re-connected 19 years ago, a week after her 31st birthday, when she found me. Until then, I was left to wonder about who she was. Perhaps a celebrity, a movie star, a CEO, or in my worst thoughts, a drug addict living on the street. Sometimes she was a phantom; sometimes I thought maybe she didn't exist at all.
We met two months later in January, 1998 in Chicago where she lived at the time and coincidentally where I grew up. Until then, my life had been divided in two parts, pre-Rebecca and post-Rebecca. So while after her birth, my life went on, law school, marriage, three wonderful daughters, a career, a part of me was stuck in the events of 1966 which led to her birth. With our reunion, my life took a third turn, embarking on a new road, rocky in places, but ultimately rewarding.
Thinking back, our first meeting reminds me of the scene in E.T. when Elliott and E.T. meet. They are terrified, but also overwhelmingly curious. While I expected Rebecca to look something like me and her biological father, I was stunned at the many similarities. The same gestures, types of clothing, voice inflections, reactions to particular movies, the same words misspelled. I saw amazing similarities in her children as well. She was not a celebrity or a drug addict but the married mother of three children, a fourth was born later that year.
I think now that I attached more significance to our differences than I should have likely because they helped obscure what was really concerning me. Where do I fit in her life? She told me she searched because she was curious. I hear that a lot from adoptees. "I'm just need to know who my mother was and why was I given up." The message that mothers may take is that they are a sort of fossil, valuable only for disclosing secrets of the past.
I worried constantly. Should I do or say this or that? Did I do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing? I was always walking on eggshells. From the memoirs I've read and the emails FMF receives, I know doubt is often a constant companion in reunion. I wanted to integrate Rebecca into my life. At the same time, I fretted about upsetting my raised daughters. Could I add her without displacing them?
Through time and commitment on both our parts, these issues have largely dissipated. We accept each other. We don't talk about religion. I've attended Church with her and met many Mormons, warm and gracious people. As for politics, we're in strong agreement that Donald Trump is a demagogue. I live comfortably in the present without dwelling on why I did what I did and what I should have done. I've been fortunate to spend time with Rebecca and her four children. I've attended the weddings of two of them and been included in "grandparent" pictures. I traveled to Peru with her oldest daughter.
I am sharing my loss and reunion experience because their profundity requires that I do so and to encourage other mothers to attempt a relationship with their lost children. The course won't run smooth, but it is better than living with a consuming mystery. And you owe it to your child.
After 19 years, I can answer these questions. Is Rebecca what I imagined? Yes and no. Has our reunion been rewarding? Yes. Am I proud of the person she is. Yes! yes! yes!--jane
Does my birth mother think of me?
Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA
By Richard Hill
An engrossing read that is part human drama in the search for one's parents, one part mystery. It would be encouraging and a help to any adoptee considering a search, any biological parent wondering about an adoptee's need to know. Highly recommended.
The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures
By Christine Kenneally
A tour of how the past shapes our present. This covers everything from Tasmanian convict records to the complex genetics of height, combining the author's personal story among the massive research. It's on Lorraine's night stand to read.
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