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    May 05, 2005

    Adopted - Part II

    A year or so later, Oprah did a show on locating Birth-Parents. An expert on re-uniting adoptee's with their Birth-Parents said that often, Birth-Parents will keep the adoption agencies updated on their current contact information, in the hopes their children might someday look for them. Several days later, I called to check if my adoption agency had any information on my Birth-Parents. It was ironic that I was transferred to Mrs. Houston, one of the two social workers that handled my adoption. Upon hearing my name, she explained that she remembered my parents. She checked the file and said there was no contact information available. She went on to tell me that there was a charge for initiating a search, a service they had recently decided to offer because the adoption laws in Texas had changed over the years, but she didn't believe adoptee's should be charged for a search. "If you won't tell, I won't charge you a dime", she said. I agreed and she told me she would call me back shortly. I hung up and went immediately into panic mode! I thought "My god, what have I done? Is she going to call me right back and say she's found them?". When the phone rang, I thought about just not answering it, but my curiosity got the better of me. Mrs. Houston said that she had contacted their detective and initiated the search for my BM and that it would probably take several days for him to get back with her. In the mean time, she said she would mail out the consent forms for me to sign and that she had some non-identifying information she could share with me.

    I was updated on the descriptions of both sets of Grandparents, each Birth-Parent and their siblings. I figured I must look like one of my parents because they both had dark brown hair with red highlights and blue eyes. Imagine that...So do I! I was given my medical history, which oddly enough was exactly the same as the history my parents had received. I suppose at that time, they didn't realize the importance that information might hold at some point down the road. My BM was in labor for eight hours and received Demerol just prior to delivery. I was given my time of birth and birth stats, which I already knew. She added that my birth was a forceps delivery. "Lovely", I said! "I was yanked out by my head and then given away". Mrs. Houston didn't appreciate my sense of humor much and went on to explain that I was not given away. That my Mother did a very loving thing and that she did what she thought was right for me. I know that now, but at the time I wasn't quite buying it. I was also less than thrilled that she referred to her as my mother. I felt an attitude coming on and I didn't understand the flood of new feelings I was beginning to experience.

    A day later, I had all the forms in hand. I signed the consent forms and filled out a sheet requesting non-identifying information about me, such as my spouse's name, my education, interests and personality traits, etc. I collected a few baby pictures and current photographs of me, sealed the envelope, addressed it, put a stamp on it and never mailed it. From then on, each birthday became increasingly painful for me. Eventually, I didn't want to celebrate my birthdays with anyone. Each year that passed, I became more and more emotional about it, and hurt that my BM hadn't looked for me. The writing was on the wall. It had become crystal clear to me that she just didn't care and didn't want me in her life. I felt more and more like I was just something bad that happened to her. From time to time I would run across the envelope and think to myself that I should send it in, but I could never make myself do it. I needed her to find me.

    Years passed and I spent a lot of time with my friend T who was also adopted the only other adopted person I have ever known. Despite the fact that she has no desire to meet or find her Birth-Parents, I have always felt that she, more than any other person on this earth, has understood me. We are like sisters. We don't always get along perfectly, but she and I have been close friends for nearly twenty years. Late one night, after spending an evening at my house, T left to pick up one of her daughters from a dance. I walked her out and as she walked to her van, I went the opposite direction to the mailbox. I pulled out two envelopes and one was from the adoption agency. Immediately, my heart sank. I knew there was no reason for them to contact me other than to let me know something about one of my Birth-Parents. Almost panicked, I screamed for T to stop. I ran to try and stop her from leaving, but she was pulling away from the parking area. I was shaking at the thought of what the letter would say. I sat down in my car for a moment and opened the envelope. Through tear filled eyes I read the letter. It was short and to the point.

    It read:
    Please contact our offices at the following number. 1-800-xxx-xxxx Your Birth-Mother has contacted us and wishes to correspond with you.
    Mrs. Houston

    Although I knew in my heart what was in the letter before I opened it, I could not believe my eyes! I was in shock. If I read it once, I read it 50 times that night and it still seemed surreal. I couldn't believe it! I cried and sobbed like I never have in my life. I immediately went inside and called T on her mobile. She and I spent the next seven hours on the phone contemplating what I should do. I already knew, but I wanted confirmation that it was the right thing. T begged me not to contact them in fear of what might be in store for me. T said, "There's no going back once you find out things you don't want to know". She added, "Some things we're better off not knowing!". I called Mrs. Houston the next morning. She explained the process to me. If I gave consent, my BM and I would each write three letters back and forth disclosing only non-identifying information. These letters would be processed through the agency. If both parties agreed, we would move on to telephone conversations where I could speak to my BM at their office and finally, if we both agree, they would set up a reunion that would take place at their office. That afternoon she mailed out the new consent forms. Two days later, they were on their way back to her. Signed, photographs and everything.

    I was scared to death to tell my parents about the recent chain of events. I started with my mother and she didn't see any harm in my having contact with my BM. I couldn't seem to find the right words to tell my dad, so I elicited the help of my Step-Mom. She was thrilled about the news, and said she would be glad to talk to my dad for me. I was a nervous wreck. My dad is the light of my life and throughout my life he had never uttered a word to me about my adoption. As far as he's concerned, I am his daughter just as his own biological daughter is. The last thing I wanted to do was hurt him with my need for this contact. My SM called me later that evening and said someone wanted to talk to me. I felt my heart move up to my throat as I heard my Dad's voice. After a little small talk, I asked if my SM had told him what was going on. He said yes and that he would support whatever I wanted to do. He reminded me that he loved me. That he had always felt a special connection with me and that he completely understood my need to know more, that if I needed him there, I could count on him. I honestly couldn't have picked a better father, if I had hand picked him myself. I was so relieved, and I cried as silently as I could throughout the rest of our conversation. I just couldn't hold back the emotion. It soon became clear I wasn't the only one feeling that way.

    The following few days were rough. My SM called me back with news that my Dad was having a difficult time with my decision. His behavior was very disturbing to all of us. For whatever reason, he believed that my BM was, for lack of a better term, an "unsavory" person. He worried that I might be hurt by this woman, the things I might learn, and perhaps even her motives. He had every right to be concerned. I am not sure what it was that brought him to understand, but after we discussed it in person he settled down. He knew the relationship between me and my mother had been difficult at best, and he had decided that if my BM could be there for me, then he could live with that. If not then at least I would have answers to the questions I've had most of my life. He told me he knew I had struggled with feelings about my adoption, but he never knew how to help me with those feelings. He said now was the time for me to find the answers I needed, and more than anything, he wanted me to be happy. That week and the one to follow, were the most emotionally draining weeks I have ever experienced.

    A little more than a week had passed and I hadn't heard a word from the agency. It was Friday and the long Fourth of July weekend was upon us. I was getting very antsy. Since Monday was the 4th, I feared having to wait until Tuesday for some information. I called T, she came over and we called the adoption agency to see what the hold up was. I spoke with the receptionist and was told Mrs. Houston was out of the office until Tuesday. I became very upset at the prospect of having to wait out the long weekend. Patience is not something I had a lot of. I insisted that someone should be able to tell me something! I had expediently supplied them with signed consent forms and everything they asked of me. It had been a very emotional week and I did not appreciate having to wait for so long. The receptionist put the Director of the Agency on the line. I went through the same conversation I had with the receptionist and she promptly told me that she didn't understand what the big deal was. I was aghast! "How could she not understand that this was a big deal to an adoptee?", I wondered. I was furious! This was the hugest thing in the world to me! I tried to choke back the tears and explain that this was an extremely emotional time and that after waiting my entire life for some information, I didn't think it was fair for them to just drop this in my lap and then expect me to wait patiently while they got their act together! I tearfully described to her how the past week felt like my world had been spinning out of control. She responded with, "I think you're over-reacting here. It's just a three day weekend". I lost it. I was crying so hard I couldn't even speak clearly. I put the phone down and T took over the conversation. She understood. Maybe I was over-reacting, I don't know, but T understood every ounce of what I was feeling. She tried to explain to the Director where I was coming from, but got nowhere with her. I had to resign myself to waiting and I felt like my life had been turned upside down.

    Tuesday came and they still had nothing. Mrs Houston suggested that I could go ahead and write the first letter to my BM. That it didn't necessarily have to be a response to hers to count toward the required three letters and that would give me something to focus on. I was less than thrilled, but she promised as soon as she had one from my BM, she would mail it. In an effort to appease me, she said my BM had given her permission to share her first name with me. "Her name is Sandy", She informed me. I was speechless. Of all the things I had wondered about for so long, it never occurred to me that my BM even had a first name. That may sound silly, but she had always been a blank face to me. It was a strange feeling to know something so personal about her, but after hearing her name, she finally seemed real to me.

    Late that Friday afternoon, without any notice from the agency, I found the much anticipated letter from my BM, waiting in my mailbox.

    To be continued...
    Jack LaLanne Juicer

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