I was settled in with my new high school, making lots of friends in NYC (you know who you are, love you ladies) and had figured out the subway system for the most part. My birthmother and I had set a date to meet in the city for dinner, I don’t actually remember the date, she might, but I do recall it seems like it was October. I had asked my family to join us in NY for the dinner and our first meeting so my adopted father, and two older brothers came up from NC to join me and be supportive.
My mother didn’t join us, she probably said she had to work or would stay back to give me some space but I understood her position, who wouldn’t? She was supportive but it was most likely very hard for her to watch the two of us meet, chat, hug etc. So I’ve never put her in a position that would make her uncomfortable and recommend other adoptees do the same. Be respectful, think about how it would feel for the other parent, the parent who raised you, gave you a home, a family, and lots of love. Too much for most people to swallow so I respected her decision and never questioned it.
After only a few months in the city I already decided that the East Village was the coolest part of Manhattan, so I picked a pizzeria for us to meet for our first gathering. My father, brothers and I arrived on-time and she was already there. I knew in an instant it was her, we look just alike, then I noticed a very tall guy who also looked just like me, the boy from the picture (my brother) and my step-father with the biggest smile on his face, grinning ear to ear! We walked over to say hello and just as I got close, she threw her arms around me and held me tight. I did the same and of course no words were need at that moment, we just stood there hugging and letting the tears flow.
Behind us the guys all gave us our space and made introductions to each other, however after a few moments we finally drew a breath and came back into the group. We all sat, ordered pizza, ate and talked. It wasn’t a deep group conversation just standard dinner chatting, getting to know each other kinda stuff. There was some talk of how they located me, reaching out to my adopted father, validation etc. Then my birthmother mentioned that they actually came down to NC and visited my old schools. Even went in to chat with administration to see if they had any old yearbooks. What???
Yep my birthmother and step-father came down to NC, visited my elementary and junior high schools and politely asked if they had any old yearbooks lying around. Yep someone was kind enough to hand over a few for there review, Southern hospitality and all. Just so you know, I was one of those kids who hated yearbook pictures during my teen years, so I may have found other interests when picture day came up or retake day for that matter. I seem to recall a retake day when my earth science teacher sent me out of his class (shout out to Mr. Mac) to head over to the gym for retakes. Can’t remember where I ended up but it wasn’t in the gym. So my birthmother and step-father had to go quite a ways back to locate a school picture of me. The moment they saw the picture they knew the information that they were given was correct, I was indeed in NC growing up a southerner. Crazy creepers!
So after dinner the guys decided to do some sight-seeing and left out for the Empire State building. Now my adopted father is from NYC, Bronx to be exact, so he knows his way around, but they really wanted to give my birthmother and I a chance to catch up alone. We sat there for hours talking, laughing, asking questions oh and taking up space at the restaurant – but who cares? She explained that she was dating my birthfather and became pregnant at age twenty-one. In 1969 abortions were illegal and she was Catholic, unmarried and had to keep things private. People judged unwed young girls for getting pregnant; so both her parents, my grandparents and my birthfather suggested, rather insisted, that she give me up for adoption.
While my birthmother was heartbroken she did what she was told, moved out of my grandparents home, found a room to rent away from her neighborhood, barely had enough money to eat and kept away from most everyone in the family, including my birthfather, while I grew to full term. Adoptions were private and by private I mean that even the hospitals didn’t get involved like they do today. As a mother giving your baby up for adoption you had to do so all on your own. So in 1970 my birthmother delivered me at Jamaica Hospital in Queens NY all on her own, with no family present.
After three days stay at Jamaica Hospital, my birthmother was released with her baby girl, walked out into the hospital parking lot and handed me over to someone most likely either legal or a adoption liaison representative. Yep right there in the parking lot, like a drug deal going down, if you have any knowledge of Jamaica Hospital you might understand this reference. She didn’t know who was going to raise me, where I was going to be raised, or what kind of love and support I was going to receive. Can you even imagine? Today birthmothers have every right to meet the adoption parents, even approve of them, some even get to keep in touch through social media, blogs, email etc. Things are quite different today.
So here was my birthmother at twenty-two already a mother but never to know anything about me, records sealed forever. My birthfather came back around and was happy to build back their relationship now that the “issue” was resolved. And my birthmother accepted him back and they eventually married. Yep my two birthparents ended up getting married after all and even more shocking got pregnant shortly there after. So as my birthmother and I are sitting after dinner talking and I’m hearing her side of the story, I realize that the boy in the picture the tall young man that I know is my brother, I now figure out that he is my blood brother. Completely 100% siblings!
Well it stands to reason that he’s my full brother as like I said we could be twins. But it just didn’t occur to me as her story unfolded that we would have the same father. Its not the typical story, young couple gets pregnant, gives the baby up for adoption, then marries and gets pregnant again and keeps that baby. Kinda a shocker, right?
She continues to tell me that my birthfather and her did eventually divorce, she was still in touch with his family but no so much with him, she remarried (my step-father) and lived a sort-of happily ever after. The only thing missing from her life; was me. The hurt she felt was devastating and the heartache turned into physical sickness. She needed to search me out, break all the rules and find me.
So here we were; a girl in the Big City, a birthmother, step-father, full blooded brother, two other brothers, a father and a mother, just your basic modern family, right?
How was this going to work? Were we all invested, really invested to becoming one family???
Stay tuned for the Finale…