This is the third in a multi-part series of posts sharing my personal adoption story. If you haven’t already, read My Adoption Story, Part I: My Adoption and My Adoption Story, Part II: The Search before reading the post below.
I stated “My name is Minnie. I was born October 12, 1973 and I was given up for adoption.” I paused and she practically screamed “Oh my God! I always knew this day would come!”
So there I was… speaking to my BIOLOGICAL grandmother! It was a life defining moment for me! She shared that my biological mother had 2 other children who didn’t know about me, so she suggested that she be the one to call her and that she would put her in touch with me.
That evening she called my biological mother every 1/2 hour to see if she was home yet (remember, verge of the internet here, almost NO ONE had cell phones at the time). My biological half brother kept answering the phone and was alarmed at the number of times his grandmother was calling. He thought for sure that something had happened to his grandfather. When my biological mother finally got home, she returned the phone call and was stunned to learn of my call reaching out to find her. As soon as she hung up, both of her children stared at her, waiting for an explanation.
In an ironic twist of fate, my biological mother had been thinking a lot about me the weekend prior (the very weekend that *I* was searching for her) and had decided to tell her children about me. My biological brother did not answer her page, but my biological sister had sat down with her and listened to the whole story from start to finish. As my mother explained the reason for their grandmother’s call, my biological brother was IRATE that this was the first he was hearing of this. She explained to him how she had been 19 and had made the choice to give me up for adoption. My biological brother’s first reaction was that of anger as he yelled “Does she have the same father as me??????” She replied “No, her father is Baloo Bear!” This did not impress my biological brother and he called her a whore.
My biological mother called me the next afternoon. I don’t remember a lot of the details of the conversation. I do remember that we talked long enough that I was late picking up my oldest daughter from kindergarten, though. We made plans to meet the next week at a chinese restaurant in a town central to both of us (we were living 11 miles part at the time I located her). I asked her to bring pictures of what she looked like at the time I was born figuring it would be like looking in a mirror.
Last that week, I called her. I hadn’t been able to get her out of my mind. She said she felt the same way and we agreed to move up our meeting date.
I remember being nervous when I drove to meet her. Would our conversations come naturally, like 2 people separated at birth? Time has dulled my memory of that day, almost 15 years ago now. I remember sitting with her at a table in the very busy Chinese restaurant. I remember her asking me if anyone at a nearby table was related to me and thinking that was an odd question. She explained that she had considered bringing someone to the restaurant in case I tried to kill her. Uhhhhh, really? Is there an epidemic on adult adoptees killing their birth parents that I dont know about? It was at this table that she shared the story of how I had been conceived on New Year’s Eve. She had been dating my biological father until that fall, but they had separated. She was babysitting that New Year’s Eve and had invited him over. Clearly one thing led to another and she ended up pregnant. She said she didn’t tell anyone and the first that anyone learned of her pregnancy was at 7 months along when her mother found a letter she had written to try to secure an abortion. She shared that my biological father had never known of the pregnancy and that she would not share his information with me because she believed he would kill her and me both if he found out. I also remember her showing me pictures of her trip to Hawaii, taken just 2 weeks after I was born. She shared details about her life and her children and asked me very little about mine. It was during this very first meeting that I knew my suspicions about her had always been correct. She hadn’t given me for adoption because she cared about MY life, but because she cared about not “ruining” her life.
I went back to her house that night and met her husband and my biological half sister. The minute I walked in the door, her husband exclaimed “My God! She does look just like Mary Sue”! (I later learned that Mary Sue was my biological aunt on my father’s side of the family.)
The next few weeks we continued to have a strained but amicable relationship. We occasionally got together for visits and talked on the phone. For my 24th birthday, she baked a cake and used those sugar letters from the supermarket to spell out “Happy Birthday Birth Name” and she bought me an opal ring (my birthstone). The thing I remember most about that day was having a terrible migraine and just wanting her to leave so I could try to sleep through the pain.
In November, I attended a football game that my biological half sister was cheering at. My birth mother introduced me to various people by my birth name. My kids found this incredible confusing that I was being called by another name. Hell, *I* found this confusing when people would call that name out. Why would I look? That’s NOT my name.
In December, we were still in communication and got together a few days before Christmas to exchange gifts. This was the first time I ever connected with my biological half brother. He was 19, but somehow managed to bring a bottle of Jose Cuervo tequila as my gift. The fact he even brought something was miraculous because he had been very resistant to establishing any relationship with me.
In January, my biological brother came over and stayed the night before a skiing trip we were taking together. I remember that night in 1998 very clearly. As he & I sat watching the Winter Olympics, we began discussing the day he had first learned I exist. He shared his story with me and about the fact he hadn’t seen his own birth father since he was 4. He commented that he didn’t even know where to find his birth father. As you might remember from Part II, I had found the marriage license for my birth mom’s 1st marriage and I had called the number I found matching that name… ultimately my biological brother’s birth father! I shared the story with him and gave him the number. I commented to him that I our birth mother would not give me the name of MY birth father. He looked shocked and said “I know who he is!”… he went on to share that the story of the day he first learned I existed and how he had asked if we had shared the same father and was told “No, her father is Baloo Bear!” So there we sat, a brother and a sister each able to pass on the name of our biological fathers. It was a surreal moment and we did not know it at the time, but it signified the beginning of the end.
My biological brother called his birth father during that next week. His birth father was thrilled to hear with him and they decided to meet. My biological brother packed some things in the car and make the long drive to see him in Florida. They had an amazing reunion and both were thrilled to connect after 15 years of being apart. Saying my birth mom was livid would not even begin to describe her anger. I can still clearly remember her high pitched screaming saying how I had ruined everyone’s lives, telling me that just because *I* was ready to search for my roots did not mean her 19 year old son was ready for such things.
Over the course of the next 2 months, things went from bad to worse. My birth mother was completely irrational and would often call screaming if she believed her son was with my family. At one point, she showed up waving photos of my brother and I telling my husband that the pictures confirmed we were having some sort of inappropriate relationship (we were cheek to cheek in the photos). Mickey laughed at her… he had TAKEN the photos himself and knew that she was completely losing her mind. We had to call the police that night to have her and her new husband removed from our home.
She ultimately made my biological brother choose between us. He (understandably) chose her and I have not spoken to him in the more than 14 years that have passed. I did use social media to check in on him over the years and learned he is married with 2 sons. I am happy for him and I hope he continues to do well.
As for my birth mother, I did try to contact her again about 2 years after this falling out. We had a nasty conversation on the phone where she denied knowing who I was, stating that she had only 2 children and I was NOT one of them. In fact, she went so far as to go to the police to try to get a restraining order. The very best part of that was the fact that it was through FAMILY court and she was required to list our relationship on the paperwork. I felt vindicated that she could NOT deny my history. I hadn’t planned to fight the restraining order because I didn’t plan to have any further contact, but a friend of mine who is a lawyer recommended that I not allow it saying that it would reflect poorly on me. We went to court and she didn’t show up, so the restraining order was dropped.
I have occasionally thought about her over the years, mostly with disgust. As I shared in Part I, I had always believed in my heart that she was a selfish woman. Meeting her confirmed that. I am glad I had the opportunity to know my siblings, if only for a short time, and I am glad that I pursued meeting her despite the painful outcome.
Continue reading My Adoption Story in this post: My Adoption Story, Part IV: My Biological Dad