I never want to live a life of regret. My son Graham was adopted as an infant when I was thirty-three. As soon as Graham’s birth mother gently placed Graham in my arms, I knew what I needed to do. My heart felt this intense pull to put myself out there and search for someone I had never met. Those closest to me felt anxious, yet I knew it was a risk worth taking.
Throughout my life, I had dreams of seeing my biological mother through a piece of glass. My eyes could focus in on her, yet she was unable to see me. I could stay or leave on my own timing and walk away with a true image of her. Sounds almost like a “line-up” of criminals you would see on a crime show right?
Searching for her through the state required basic paperwork. At the very least, I would get my medical records and she would be open to a letter from me thanking her for making the ultimate sacrifice. Three weeks passed and the phone rang. A social worker from the state wanted me to know she had some bad news. She said, “Angie, I made contact with her by phone, and she is not interested in any form of contact with you. She is a breast cancer survivor and encourages you to be proactive with mammograms.” Who knew seven years later I would be diagnosed with breast cancer? Before we hung up the phone, the social worker said, “Angie, I’m not supposed to tell you this, but don’t close the door on this.” Of course, I tried to get specifics, but she would not budge. The good news is, I knew she was alive and I put myself out there. No regrets, but wondered if she would ever change her mind and reach out to me?
Why did that social worker say to keep the door open? If she only knew how powerful those words were to me. Five years of wondering and prayer led to a more assertive approach searching for her. A private attorney named Jill was my lifeline to finding her. In the late ’70s, adoptions were “closed”, so accessing my personal/medical information involved Jill going before a judge requesting that my birth records be opened. In less than a month, Jill found her and mailed her that thank you letter I initiated five years ago. That thank you letter led to exchanging more letters, pictures, emails, and the desire to meet in person. What would her voice sound like? Why was I put up for adoption? So many questions swirling in my mind. In a few months, we would officially meet face to face. Let that sink in..
Indiana summers in July can be sweltering, so I planned ahead. We decided to meet at my church. Such a perfect balance of a quiet place with privacy. What if she stands me up? Do I resemble her? What was my biological father like? Did I have siblings? Could she fulfill my need to know my story? How often did she think of me over the past thirty-eight years? Should I take notes? So many questions swirling.
Meeting day arrived and I compare my nerves to the biggest first date ever! All the feelings raced through my veins as I waited. She walked through the bookstore doors and although we were strangers, it felt comfortable exchanging hugs and tears. What do you say to the woman who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure I would have a beautiful life? Three hours later, we were still sitting on the comfy bookstore couches chatting it up with ease. She reassured me that she was in a tough place emotionally when I reached out five years ago. Her husband was dying and knowing I was searching for her was too much for her heart to handle. She admired my bravery and my persistence. I learned that she was not planning on ever finding me, but thought of me often and prayed that I was happy and healthy.
Replaying the past thirty-eight years within hours is emotionally draining in the most joyful ways. I found myself analyzing every physical feature and the sound of her voice. She kept her pregnancy a secret, even from my biological father. She was a twenty-two-year-old nursing student and her mother was dying when she found out she was pregnant. Not only did she fear being disowned by her mother, but how could she tell her when she was gravely ill? My birth story was captivating. She described being in nursing school and going into labor in her dorm room. Since cell phones didn’t exist in 1978, she scribed a quick message letting her roommate know she was okay, walked to the hospital, and delivered me…all alone. She remembers hearing my cry, but in order to detach emotionally, she never held me. What an act of love and faith in order to give me a life she could not provide. Three months after my birth, she described standing at her mother’s casket. Still carrying the secret of my birth, and mourning the loss of her mother is unimaginable.
I have a half brother that I look forward to meeting this summer. She also reached out to my biological father to let him know about me. Imagine how he is feeling knowing he has a daughter after thirty-eight years? Maybe in time he will have a change of heart and be open to meeting one day. Beauty can be found when you take a risk in life. My biological mother feels “free” of a secret she held so tightly. Freedom to share all of her story with others makes my heart happy. A risk worth taking…