As I have previously posted, some of the issues related to my eventual coming out are also tied with my adoption and eventual reunion with my birth family. Although the 2 are totally separate “entities” in their own right, in my life they are intertwined as they both relate to me finding not only my family, but my true self as well. Some have asked that I write a little more about my reunion, to give a little more insight into my world and I decided that I would.
What follows is something that I wrote about a year after we reunited. Hopefully it may help put things into perspective for some of you.
I can finally say that I have come to the end of my 24-year journey. I “met” the last of my birth family so to speak. As it happened I was visiting with one of my sisters when we decided to take a ride out to the cemetery, where our mother is buried.
Driving out there was the hardest trip that I have taken in my search and ultimate reunion. There were so many emotions going through me that at times I just wanted to pull over and scream. My sister, thank God, sensed my emotions and left me alone to my own thoughts and just sat close to me. Having her there helped me out a lot, but in hindsight I think that perhaps this was something that I should have done on my own. There were so many emotions ranging from sadness, to anger, to hurt, sorrow, grief and exhaustion, that at times I felt that finding was like a double edged sword going through my heart. Thinking of what I wanted to say, should have said and needed to say, only made me more nervous as we got closer to the cemetery. I didn’t want my sister to see my anger. I was afraid that she wouldn’t or couldn’t understand why I was so angry at our mom.
I wanted to yell at her for giving me up! Why, me? She already had 4, what was one more??? And then she had the “nerve” to have 2 more! My God, she was pregnant with one of my younger sisters when she finally signed the relinquishment papers AFTER I was already in foster care for over 2 years!! Did she hate me that much??? I wanted and demanded answers and I was furious that I would never get them!!! Wasn’t I good enough?? Was I at least loved even if only for a little while??? Did she ever at least think of me once all those years, or was I just her dirty little secret that she took to her grave???? Why didn’t she at least tell my siblings about me on her deathbed??? I wanted and still need those answers!! Dammit why did she have to die before I got them?????
Walking to her grave I was so afraid of how I would react. I didn’t want my sister to see me like this. I didn’t want to alienate her and my other siblings when I was just starting to build lifelong bonds. After all, this was the mother that SHE knew and loved! How could I even begin to presume that she would understand or even want to understand? After all, wasn’t I still a “stranger”???
My sister sensed not only my anger, but also my sorrow and grief and just pointed to our mother’s grave a few rows ahead and let me continue on my own. I silently prayed to thank God for allowing me a few moments of some privacy. The closer I stepped to mom’s grave the more a sense of peace started to envelope me. I couldn’t believe what was happening, after all, this was my moment of truth! This was my chance to tell her EXACTLY how I felt!!! The anger that I felt inside, was fading with every step I took that brought me closer to her grave. At first I thought maybe it was because in some sick way I got the final laugh! I still found my family and she couldn’t do anything about it!!! But, then I realized that; that wasn’t it. It dawned on me that maybe she knew and she finally accepted me. Maybe there was some truth to that saying…”You’ll only find when the time is right and not a second before”. Maybe I needed to get to a point in my life where I could accept things for the way they were, because no matter what, the outcome would always be the same.
Looking at that cold granite grave marker, made me feel helpless on one hand, but yet victorious on the other, like I finally won out over her wishes to hide the secret of me forever! Although I thought that I knew in the past that when (and if) I found she wouldn’t be alive, but the finality of it all slapped me in the face with a smack that almost threw me off my feet. I couldn’t help from crying. I was sobbing so hard that I wasn’t even aware of time or space. I was crying, not for my mother but for me. I never knew her and I really couldn’t grieve for her. I realized that I was grieving for myself. I was grieving for that baby that was left in the orphanage for over 2 years and during that time I was shuffled around to 3 foster homes. I was grieving for that child that grew up not knowing why he never fit in. I was crying for the child that when finally told the truth, secretly felt relieved that at last knew why he was so different and yet felt guilty at the same time for feeling relieved. I was crying for the young man that was told “your mother never wanted you, be grateful we took you in”! I was crying for the new father, scared witless because he never knew what he was passing on to his children. And finally I was crying for the middle-aged man, that was never allowed (or rather never allowed himself), to feel emotion. All of the numbness that hid my emotions during my life was melting off and washing away with my tears. This was the first time in my life that I allowed myself to feel all of life’s raw emotions, and in a weird way I was relishing every moment of it! I was alive and feeling, despite it all!!
I knew that the anger I harbored was like a black spot on my heart that would eventually corrupt what I fought for so hard during my 24 years of searching. I could not and would not allow it to ruin relationships that I was making now with my FAMILY. I also realized how selfish I was. After all, my siblings were also experiencing their own hurt and anger over the actions of our mother. We were ALL never given a chance to grow up together. Her decision to relinquish me also affected them. I then knew that this was something that together as a family we can come to deal with and hopefully heal one another as we continue to build a foundation on the rubble that our mother left behind.
I did also come away with a sense of peace. I found peace in knowing that I have siblings who truly love and accept me without question. I also found peace in learning that we all have our own issues, but together, someday we will work them through as a family. I know that my anger will slowly fade with time although it will probably never go away, but at least now I could deal with it in a more rational way.
But to me the biggest gift I received that day was my spirit! At last I was free! And it felt great!!
As a conclusion to all of this (that is if there ever is a conclusion) we have all come to terms with the past in our own way and our own time. We still are in contact with one another, some more, some less, but we are all still healing. When will that healing end? No one has the answer, but at least we are together. And like all families, we have all found our place withing that structure and because of it, we have all become better and stronger despite it all.