Sunday, November 04, 2007

After A Week...

I've got to say, this entire process of having contact with my birth mom has been much less stressful/traumatic/emotional than I thought it would be. I'm fairly low-key to begin with, but occassionally stuff gets to me. This whole process really hasn't. Part of it has probably been that I've had a really busy week and honestly haven't had much time to even think about what has transpired. I also think that the fact that it took almost two years to hear anything was a blessing - I've had plenty of time to think through outcomes and responses, and for the most part, given some time, I can digest just about anything without losing it.

So far, the hardest thing to wrap my head around is the fact that I have all of the family's last names. I, of course, immediately signed up for an account at and began digging around some different sites. I've never had even a slight interest in geneologies or ancestries, so it was all pretty new to me. She wasn't kidding when she said we were Swedish - I'm fairly certain my great-grandparents were actually born in Sweden on one side of the family and, after many hours of late night ancestry research (which will fry your brain after a while...) hit a gold mine of information and managed to trace another part of the family back to the 1500s - also about 90% from Scandanavia. So far, that has been my only "freak out" moment - after a few hours of looking at this stuff, it was almost 2am and I realized I was looking at a list of 60+ of my ancestors names - first names, last names, birthdates, cities, states, countries-and it was one of the strangest moments of my life so far. I never thought I'd have ANY more info besides what the adoption agency gave my parents, and to have been blessed with so many answers was pretty overwhelming.

I guess the only other thing that has really surprised me is how hard it was to write the second letter. I wrote the first letter with the thought that if she never wanted to hear from me again, I was going to say everything I needed to say. She ended her letter with a tone of "I'll let you decide how to move forward" and hinted that maybe someday we'd meet and that if we did she was sure I'd be welcomed by her family. I'm really happy her family is OK with us communicating and am glad she would want to correspond further. Its just hard to know what to say, really. Not exactly sure about meeting in person at this point. It'd be weird on a few levels - especially the fact that because she lives about an hour or so away from my parents, so if I were to visit her, I'd have to do it while I was staying with my mom and dad which doesn't seem quite right to me.

Speaking of which, I did talk to my mom and I told her I got my medical information. She wanted to hear all about it and seemed pretty happy that I got it. I didn't mention the direct correspondance at all. I don't really know how she'd react to it, and figure there's no use in upsetting anyone over something that doesn't need to be upsetting.

So, I'm sending my second letter tomorrow and we'll see what happens!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Letter Arrives

My letter from S arrived today. Honestly, I really haven't had much anxiety about it. Haven't been watching for the mailman or running out to get the mail or anything like that. After waiting almost 2 years to hear anything since I started the process of trying to contact her, I had learned this wasn't a process to rush.

She wrote me a 4 page letter and included 2 pages of medical history. I read it right away, even though we were on our way out the door. The long recap:

She is glad I contacted her, and says based on the pic I sent that we look alike. She told me the story about her life around the time when she got pregnant with me - she drank too much, and - surprise! Here I am! It's funny, because ever since I was kid, I've always thought that was the case. I have no idea why or where that came from, but I've always just felt like that was the case. She said she wanted to keep me, but couldn't, because she didn't make enough money and was living with her parents.

After I was born, she never saw me. That's probably what I was most curious about - what exactly happened to me after I was born. I didn't ask her specifically about this, but she ended up answering me anyway. She said that for the first few years, she was upset when she saw an infant or a toddler, wondering if it was me, and that she always remembered my birthday and wondered what i was doing.

Ok, weirdest thing in the whole letter: the doctor told her I had a slight cleft palatte but that it was correctable. I'm still trying to figure that one out. (And I've spent a good portion of the past 24 hours staring at my nose and lip in the mirror.)

She had thought about trying to find me over the past few years, then the letter from the courthouse came.

She loves to try new recipes and cross stitch. I also thought it was funny that she wrote: "I hate people who call you honey or sweetie". Seriously, I couldn't agree more. I need to warn her about the south. Also, I have a half brother who is 21.

Most exciting part of the letter: I have the last names for all of my grandparents! I've never had even a remote interest in geneologies, but now I've spent the past day looking things up. German and Swedish it is. A little Irish, too, she wrote. Oktoberfest, Ikea and an Irish car bomb. I'll take it.

She doesn't want to use the court as a middleman and included her address. Seems like she's open to correspondence and possibly meeting one day. Her husband and mom are supportive of whatever she decides. No pictures included, because they aren't a "picture taking family" and don't have any recent ones.

Lots of medical info - including a grandparent that had rheumatoid arthritis, like me. That would have been really great to know about ten years ago. Nothing else too terribly worrisome in the medical history, but there's a lot of stuff in there. I've spent a lot of time googling things since I got this letter :)

I'm still digesting all this info and have probably read and re-read the letter at least 10 times. She wrote that she had to re-read my letter a bunch of times before she could process all of it as well. Anyway, still thinking about everything and if/how to respond. All in all, I couldn't have asked for more.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

a development!

Close to two years after starting this process, and after long ago abandoning any hope that anything would come of it, I got a call this morning. Yep, "the call".

First, I can't even believe I'm one of "them" now. By "them", I mean the adoptees that have a name for their birth parent(s). We'll call her S. I am not allowed to know the last name, but the woman from the courthouse, who is super, super nice gave me a rundown of the entire conversation.

Apparently S tried to call last year sometime, in response to the letters that were sent out. Unfortunately, when she left a message, she left her married name, so they didn't know who she was or why she was calling and didn't end up calling back. (The lady researching my case has about five other jobs in the courthouse and is way overworked.) Anyway, they recently found her married name, and resent the letters. S called back again. This is actually good, as 2006 had enough drama in it for me.

She said that no one knows about me, except her husband, her parents, and her sister. Her sister just found out last week, because she also got a letter and inquired as to what it was about. So its a bit of a sticky situation, but its not like I'm asking to move in, or even meet up face to face. Her dad made her tell her husband about me before they got married. Her husband, upon finding out that I was trying to contact her, said she should let it be, but when she heard that I was mostly interested in medical info, she seemed cooperative.

Apparently she's had a lot of medical problems and currently has a mass on her lung. She will find out today what that is. I feel kind of bad about the timing - that's a lot for a person to swallow :(

She has been married to the same guy for "her whole life" and it sounded like she still lived in the same part of the country. She told the lady on the phone that she figured this day would come, but that nothing really prepares you for it.

She has agreed to begin writing down my entire family medical history - ages/age of death for my grandparents and any medical conditions, all the way through her children - if she has any. I was a little too shell shocked to ask.

According to the courthouse lady, S's main reservations are 1. I'm essentially a secret and 2. She got the vibe that there was something really difficult about the circumstances of the pregnancy and that S probably wouldn't want to think/talk about it.

Roughly five hours later, I'm still processing all this information, but its good. :)

Next steps: S has agreed to read a letter from me and will write back, sending her letter via the court system, although she may not write any more than my family medical info. It was suggested that I ask specific questions and tell her about myself and my life. I'll send a picture and probably include my contact info. She is allowed to do the same, but I suspect she'll opt not to. I would really, really love to know the last name though. Gotta make up for all those genealogy projects I did in school that always felt slightly fabricated. I've started the letter, but its really awkward to introduce yourself to the person who gave birth to you. I don't want it to be too long, so its like I've got a page or two to prove I made something of myself and to tactfully ask what I want to know.

Anyway, planning to have this thing in the mail tomorrow.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The pastor at our church shared this story this morning. Thought it might be of interest.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Called and left a message for the lady at the courthouse last week - no response. Last year at this time when I decided to embark on this search, I remember thinking "There's no way it will be a year before I hear something" but here I am. I suppose I'll try to call her again, since she didn't even return my voicemail, but I'm fairly certain she'd have called by now if she had anything to report.

In other news, another birthday has come and gone. I had to work this year on my birthday, which was a little weird. No one knew it was my birthday so I luckily avoided the awkward singing and such. On my birthday I always think, "If there is only one day a year that my mom remembers me, it would probably be today" and I wonder if she really does remember. As with most years, I head to the adoption registry website and see if there are any new listings. No such luck. Does anyone else find those registries super depressing? Thousands and thousands of adopted people posting all the info they know hoping to find a long lost relative and very few families actually looking for the children they put up for adoption? Blah.

Friday, December 08, 2006

That time of year again

Long time with no update. Haven't heard anything from the woman at the courthouse. Calling her back is on my list of to-do items before I travel for the holidays. Last I heard she was sending letters to people who live in the area where I was born who had the same last name as my mom, asking them if they know her current contact information. My guess would be she never heard back. It's a little sad. You know, it's not like I was going to ask for a seat at Christmas dinner. A picture and some medical info would have probably satisfied me for life. But, what are you going to do?

Birthday number 27 is coming up in a few weeks. Birthdays are so weird. I wasn't one of those adopted kids who freaked out on my birthday. I was always excited, but it was mostly because I liked the idea of having a party at my house. Having a younger brother and sister and a dad who worked odd shifts meant that I seldomly got to have friends over, so I always looked at birthdays as the one time of year I was allowed to have people over. As I got older birthdays got a little more weird. I mean, it's your "birth day" so what do you naturally think about but the day you were born, which for most adopted people probably doesn't turn out to be the high point of the lives of anyone invovled. In fact, I have always found myself thinking that my birthday may very well have been the most difficult day of my biological mom's life. Or maybe not. Maybe it wasn't as hard for her as I like to think it was. Who knows.

Anyway, this year's birthday will be different for sure. My birthday falls between Christmas and New Year's so I'm always at home in Pennsylvania on my birthday. In fact, I've never woken up anywhere except my parents house on my birthday nor have I ever gone to work or school. Usually my parents take me out for lunch and whatever friends happen to be in town go out to dinner. I don't usually do anything too out of the ordinary, just lie low and let it pass. This year, having only been at my job for a few weeks, my birthday will actually be my first day back at work after the holiday break. Yuck.

Monday, September 11, 2006


I'm guessing that most adoptees have had one (or many) of those situations where you think "Oh my God, what if I'm related to this person?" It happens to me frequently. I meet someone that I have a lot in common with and think "This is what it would be like with my biological family." While, of course, I know that isn't always the case, I would assume that most adoptees hold that ideal in their minds that - there are people out there just like them, and upon finding those people the feeling of being "different" just fades away. It's kind of an annoying feeling, to be honest. You really want to ask. But you feel like such a weirdo for even wondering about it.

I guess it really all boils down to having to feel secure and know who you are without waiting on unknown variables define that for you. Because in all liklihood, the variables (my family) probably won't ever be defined, and to let that rule my identity is a waste.

And now a quote from some very deep, inspirational folks:
Family isn't about whose blood you have. It's about who you care about.

-Trey Parker and Matt Stone, South Park, Ike's Wee Wee, 1998

Monday, May 22, 2006

Back in Action's been a while. I've not fallen off the face of the earth. My life has been so crazy for the past few weeks that, no kidding, I had to go back and read my last blog post here because I honestly couldn't even remember what the last update on the search was. This search went from being something I thought about almost daily to something that didn't even cross my mind for over a month, because I've been so preoccupied with some things that were happening at work. Luckily, all the junk at work is almost over now, the stress level is (slowly) dropping, and I have an entire week off of work before I start a new job next Tuesday.

When I started writing this post, it was just going to be a "I'm still here, still waiting" post. But right in the middle of writing it, who should give me a call? The lady from the courthouse =) This is how out of touch I am right now - when I saw the number from Erie on my caller ID, it didn't even occur to me that it was related to the adoption search. I just let it go to voicemail.

But, I called her right back and here's the deal: She had written to my agency to get some more info. She told me she had "a lot" of info. "Loads" of info. She began telling me what the info was about, and it is exactly the same info that I already have. That's ok, I'm glad she has that info to go on now, not that it's much. She confirmed that my mom is not from Erie County and is from McKean county where I was born. She said that because my mom was from another county than where I was adopted, she did not come to the courthouse to relinquish her rights, she just signed the papers and mailed them in. Because of this, the judge didn't get the opportunity to ask some general questions that they usually ask parents who are relinquishing their rights. They don't even have a date of birth for my mom, which is making it really hard for them to locate her, because they said her name is pretty common.

However, upon further research, she found that there are only four people in McKean County with this last name, so she's mailing letters to all of them today to see if they have any updated info. She can't tell them why she needs the info, she just has to hope that they cooperate.

I did learn something new, though. My placement with my parents was delayed a few weeks because they thought I had a hearing problem. And all this time I thought my hearing problems were a result of going to all those concerts...haha.

She also told me that it is really unusual that there is no father listed on any of my papers. Apparently in 1971 they passed a law that said that the only acceptable reasons for a father not to be listed are either she was drunk or really didn't know who he was, or she was raped. Ah, the pleasant circumstances of my life.

So, that's the story, she said at least another few weeks until she has any more updates.

Friday, April 07, 2006


I finally got a phone call from the lady at the courthouse today. I left her a message about a week ago and she never called me back, which is fine. She seems like a horribly overworked person, so I hate to put pressure on her by constantly calling. When I talked to her today, she seemed like she didn't even remember talking to me previously - she reintroduced herself to me.

Anyhow, she told me that she went through my file and that my mom was not from Erie county, so she was writing a letter to the county where she did live to find out of they have any marriage records for my mom. She is also writing to the agency that handled my adoption because she said they generally have a lot more information. It was good to get an update. She said it would be at least a few more weeks before she heard back, which is fine.

The whole situation is frustrating for a number of reasons. First of all, this lady knows who my mother is. She knows her name. Besides just a name, this woman, who is unrelated to the situation entirely, probably knows more details about her than I do. It just seems wrong - a random, unrelated person is allowed to know about my history, but I'm not. Its like someone dangling something that belongs to you right above your head, just out of reach.

Secondly, I tend to be a bit of a control freak sometimes and it is killing me that this lady is researching all of this stuff, when I can guarantee that me or someone I know could do a much quicker, more thorough job. I've got a friend with some connections through work and if she had my birthmom's name, could probably locate her in 30 seconds. Strangely enough, this same friend worked in the office of the lawyer who handled my adoption AND the court house at one point. If I weren't a law abiding citizen.... =)

But anyway, its good to at least get an update and know that progress is being made. The whole situation is serving as a good reminder that God's timing isn't always the timing we want, but its better in the long run.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


You are your stories. You are the product of all the stories you have heard and lived - and of many you have never heard. They have shaped how you see yourself, the world and your place in it - Daniel Taylor

This was written in our program at church today and it struck me. I like it a lot, but its a little scary at the same time. I completely agree that a person's stories have a big impact on who they are and how they see themselves. That makes searching for my birth mom all the more intimidating, since the "story" that I have made up for myself to explain where I came from could be completely wrong. So if stories "shape how you see yourself, the world and your place in it" and someone comes along and changes my story, am I going to feel differently about myself, the world and my place in it? Then again, I suppose that having my story changed would create a story in and of itself. weird....