A “speed limit” birthday – what a ride to 55 and for all that lies ahead!
Here we are on November 21, 2020.
National Adoption Day is a collective effort to raise awareness of the more than 120,000 children waiting to be adopted from foster care in the United States. A coalition of national partners — the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Alliance for Children’s Rights and Children’s Action Network — founded National Adoption Day.
My 55th birthday AND National Adoption Day – how appropriate that they land together – especially this year. 2020 has been a unique year, to say the least. And this birthday, has been, for me, the most unique of all.
I didn’t see the TWO voice messages on my cell that morning in September. Then a few hours later, my house phone rang. Thanks to “Caller ID”, I saw the caller. I so wanted Rae to be home when I called because I had no idea what the outcome would be (I will take a risk but I am more comfortable with a plan!). My curiosity won – I couldn’t wait for her to be home. I called back.
I wish I could have recorded the call, but I didn’t. I was excited, apprehensive, nervous and petrified all at the same time I was convincing myself that in the end, this wouldn’t change my day-to-day, or maybe it would; this would be a defining moment in my life, of that I was sure.
She picked up. “This is Jane”, I said. And we began a conversation that lasted over an hour. Details about her and her mom, how they wound up in all the places they did, and how I came to be. I told her of her half-siblings located not too far and her father, whom she had never met. I started this journey to possibly make a connection then realized that my connection was secondary to my birth mother connecting with her siblings and father, most of all. We planned a call with the siblings which was one of the most amazing calls I have had – a collection of amazingly intelligent, accomplished, warm and welcoming people. My uncle was happy that he was no longer “the oldest” and we shared many questions and laughs along the way. My grandfather’s 96th birthday was upcoming and a Zoom celebration would be planned. Ninety-six and completely aware that he was speaking to his oldest daughter for the first time as well as a granddaughter he even imagined. It was the most amazing call!
With COVID restrictions (at the time) being somewhat eased, I met my birth mother. Masked protocols followed, we could not help but to embrace each other and she said to me, “I waited 54 years to do that!” We talked and talked and shared details about our separated lives. I told her about my parents and she explained why she chose an adoption plan for she and I.
She told me she struggled with her decision and that was why I was adopted at five months old. I never thought that was different, but she explained that it was time she needed. Did she think of me? Yes. She didn’t know if I was told of my adoption and she held back from contacting me because she did not want to upset the life I had. And the biggest question? The why.
An answer so truthful – “I wanted you to have a mother and father – a family.” She had grown up with an amazing mother but did not have her father in her life. She wanted a different way and she was in control of that narrative for me; she also had to make the best decision for her as well. My birth mom was sure to tell me that she knew my mother was my mother – who raised me, changed diapers and who did every other thing for me. She always respected that.
There has been levity in my series of posts and I appreciate every one of you who have read along. I want to be quite clear in a few things – first, my parents, my family are MY FAMILY. All the scrapped knees, school events, music lessons, and family gatherings are the indelible marks on my life that make me who I am. Secondly, know that in no way was this search an attempt to disavow, disrespect or forget who my mother and father were and will always be to me. My love for them will never change, as the love for my extended family, cousins, aunts, and uncles will always remain. Finally, this was something I needed for ME – to answer questions that only a few of my friends (Frann, Frank, Dolores, to name a few) and my cousins (Matthew, Kristen, Christopher and Annalisa) could share as fellow adoptees. Things have been made clear for me and I finally acknowledge the good in everything that has happened over these five and a half decades. Anyone who has ever rattled me by questioning who I was, the character I have or the motives behind my deeds is now just a mere blip on the screen – I have been made complete in this final piece of the puzzle.
I am looking forward to many years ahead getting to know a whole new set of my aunts, uncles, and grandparents, through talks, pictures, and memories. I hope for a time when we can all be in the same room to do that. I am so excited to have been blessed with the connection to my birth mother – I truly thank her for making my life possible. It may sound cliché, but it really was the most amazing gift someone could give another.
For my birthday this year, I received a very early morning text from the one person who was there when I came into this world – something so many people take for granted. It will be in my opinion, the best birthday ever!