The first person I found was my maternal uncle. After our initial email Q&A to verify I was who I said I was, I couldn’t wait to talk to this man who knew my birth mother. Our schedules were a little wonky at the time and we have a three-hour time difference but we scheduled a time one morning before I got to work.
Sitting in the parking lot of my office I didn’t want our call to end. He let me ask him tons of questions about his family, what my bio Mother was like growing up and he asked me many, many questions about my life too. It felt familiar and odd and after we hung up I had to sit in my car and take a dozen deep breaths before I could switch gears and head into the office.
My uncle was 12 years old when I was born and he had no idea that his oldest sister was pregnant with me. Nearly 10 years younger than my birth mother, there were many things he didn’t know about her life, but he has done the best he can to share things about her personality and likes and dislikes.
The things I most wanted to know weren’t big things – instead I wanted to know what made her laugh and what she did with her free time. I wanted to know how she felt about animals and music and art. I asked about her favorite books and TV shows, knowing as I asked that he likely didn’t have the answers.
One of the biggest surprises was finding that I had a sister who had been given up for adoption. My uncle at first thought I must be a twin, he had no idea that my birth mother had been pregnant once out of wedlock, much less twice. To be honest, that little bit of information threw me off balance for an hour or so.
His recollection of finding out about that child and how she reached out to our biological mother’s family is a little fuzzy and he felt it might be best if I didn’t contact her 4 kids with her husband.
This made sense at first. It’s been a lukewarm (at best) reception from my maternal aunts and other uncle and in typical adoptee fashion, I just didn’t want to rock any boats. Adoptees want to make other people comfortable. In therapy, I learned to recognize that people-pleasing trait as one that evolved out of my own desire to be safe. Adoptee trauma of being relinquished by the only human we’ve known at birth teaches us that we can be discarded at any time and we develop various coping mechanisms to ensure that we aren’t abandoned.
The last thing I wanted was to lose the only connection I had to my birth mother by disregarding his request.
However, in typical Peggie fashion, I began imagining my life with my new siblings in it. Besides, I had tons of questions about my adopted sister and wanted to find out how she fared growing up as an adoptee. I wanted to know why the adoption agency hadn’t included information about her in my non-identifying information and I just had a longing that I couldn’t really explain to meet these siblings.
Doing my own sleuthing I found the names and social media profiles (all but one were private) of my maternal half-siblings.
I reached out to friend the adopted sister on Facebook. She didn’t accept the friend request and I immediately went into a spiral of self-doubt, sure that she knew who I was and didn’t want anything to do with me. In reaching out I figured she’d look at my pictures on Facebook and just magically figure out our relationship! HAHAHAHA. (we look alike.)
When I talked myself off the “she hates me” ledge, I wrote her a letter. The letter included the facts of my birth including my place of birth, my birth mother’s name and my date of birth. I tossed in a few other facts about me – my social media sites, where I live, how I love dogs and ended with a request to connect, stating that I hoped she knew how I felt as an adoptee who had been searching for many years. I also told her that our uncle had asked me not to directly contact our birth mother’s other children and that I hadn’t done so.
Then I waited.
I tried to move on with my life, assuming that she didn’t want anything to do with me and beginning to wonder if I could simply go on as I always had, pretending that it didn’t really matter if I never got to meet any of my maternal half-siblings.*
On July 23rd I received this message via Facebook:
“Hi Peggie! I am Cathy and I AM Christine’s daughter. Just to confirm…you are too?”
Holy cow! I was so excited and nervous and happy that I nearly peed my pants. (seriously, aging isn’t for the weak-hearted.)
It turns out that the letter was mailed to an old address and had been forwarded, but Cathy was away on vacation when it arrived thus the delay in her response.
We agreed to talk the next day and I couldn’t wait.
On July 24 Cathy and I spoke on the phone for nearly an hour. We talked about how surprised we were to find out about each other (who knew our biological mother gave up two of us?!) and we talked about our lives, growing up near each other (the first house I lived in was in the same town where Cathy grew up and went to high school!)
We also talked about our Uncle’s request that I not reach out to the other kids and Cathy shared her belief that they would want to know not only about me but know me and we agreed that she would call one of our half-sisters and let her know.
That evening I received voice mail messages from two of my four additional half-siblings and we began getting to know each other the next day.
It’s weird to call it a reunion because we’ve never known each other. Still, there is a big part of me that is starting to feel complete with these brilliant souls in my world.
Oh, and the day Cathy and I first spoke, July 24, is our birth mother’s birthday. We all agree that it was a nod from our mother to stop keeping secrets and start connecting.
* by the way, I use the term half-siblings because I think it makes it easier for you to know who I’m talking about – but in my heart, none of my new-found siblings are “half” anything. They are very dear to me and very 100% to me.