If you’ve been following along with my personal story of being an adoptee let me begin by saying THANKS! It’s a major part of who I am and the road I’ve traveled and I really appreciate all the love, support and feedback you all have given me! If you missed the first three parts you can catch up here: Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 otherwise away we go with the final chapter.
I began to spend weekends with my birthmother, brother and step-father. Even my maternal grandparents ended up staying with my birthmother so I was able to get to know them as well. Learned my grandmothers Sicilian sauce and meatballs recipe and how to make her famous lasagna. Watched the Mets with my grandfather when they were on a hot streak (actually won the WS that year 86′) and helped him “walk the property” which was his code for grab a smoke outside. It was wonderful to really get to know my family, create that lifelong bond and be accepted as part of their lives, them as part of my life and grow our heritage.
I even met my birthfather’s mother, stepfather and sister who didn’t live to far away from my birthmother’s house in New Jersey. I never met my birthfather, he and our mother were married shortly after I was given up for adoption. My brother’s childhood included our father but only for a few years then came divorce and soon after he lost touch. He remarried and had other children but wasn’t keeping touch with his mother and wasn’t really connected to either family any longer. I never really had a desire to meet him, funny really, most adoptees tell me they tend to be drawn to find their birthmothers but not the fathers.
After I moved back to North Carolina and eventually moved to attend college in Georgia, we still visited and kept in touch. There was my brother’s graduation, my step-sister’s wedding, holidays, and summers spent in New Jersey. They all even attended my first wedding which included my four family trees: my adopted father’s family, my adopted mother’s family, my birthmother, brother, and stepfather, and would you believe my birthfather’s mother and stepfather even attended. It was quite a mix of family and lots of BIG family love!
The years have flown by, its been over 30 years and my birthmother and I speak every week. She now lives in California and either I fly west to see her or she fly east to see me. My brother and I are very close we text each other over football games or if the Mets are hot and try to get our families together for a visit when we can. We’ve all built a wonderful relationship and I’m grateful that when my girls were born they were born with two complete families on my side. Its normal to them to have two sets of maternal grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles and lots of cousins. Both my mothers took turns staying with me when each of my children were born, it was really a blessing to have such loving family support during all those important life events.
So I call my mothers “mom” and my fathers “dad” there isn’t a differential in my world. The way I tend to explain it is that my adopted mother who raised me is the parental mother and my birth mother is my best friend. My birthmother didn’t have to discipline me but yet we have so much in common its really crazy, we’re so relatable to each other. However I still respect her as my mother because that’s truly who she is. But my mother raised me and loved me from the start so she of course has my respect and she is my mother. Same with my father and step-father, so two mothers, two fathers, makes sense?
I sometimes confuse people who are just getting to know me and I say things like “my mom lives in North Carolina” and then say “my mom lives in California”. I get that half cocked head, eyebrow raised puppy dog look which then I quickly just say “Oh I was adopted and I know both my families.” This then raises more questions, and I provide more of the story, which then of course gets more questions and then leads to why I wrote this blog. So many have said how inspirational our story is and I really hope that someone either a mother, father, adoptee or step-parent can find inspiration in my story to lead them to a happy and well balanced mixed up big “modern family”.
My mother, my adopted mother passed away in 2008 and it was the hardest loss I’ve ever had to deal with. She was my confidant, my adviser, my friend and my love of my life. I respected her opinion on everything, shared everything with her and spoke to her every week. When we loss her my brothers and I each loss a trusted board member and cheerleader. It seemed too soon to loose her as I was only 38 but I’m always thankful for the years I was given and blessed by the life she gave me.
God had a plan and had put it into action when my birthmother found me, he was watching over me and knew what I would need when my mother passed. He knew that I would need another mother, another adviser, another best friend. That’s exactly what I received in my birthmother. Our relationship is different but I find it hard to explain that what I needed was there and has always been there and our bond has forever grown and become stronger and stronger over all these years. Even yesterday when we spoke we laughed and the connection is natural, we can actually finish each other sentences.
My grandfather’s passing was hard for all of us, he had been loosing ground for several years and putting in a good Sicilian fight. There was time to prepare. However my grandmother was a beaming example at 90 years old of what we’d all like to be in those years. Alive, mobile, laughing, on-the-go, she was in fact at the top of her game at 90 years old. Yep it truly was hard to believe. I spoke to her every-other-week and sometimes weekly since she was such an inspiration! My girls and I travel to California for her 90th birthday party and she was on the dance floor looking less than 60 years old. It was such a wonderful time being with family and celebrating her life.
Six months later I made my weekly call and she had been to the doctor with bronchitis. It spiraled into pneumonia and within a week of us speaking she was gone. Shock and grief overcame us all. My birthmother had never gone through these levels of loss but in fact her daughter had already experienced such pain. I was there to console her. God’s plan again in motion. We were there to support each other at a time when we both needed a best friend the most.
My family is still together even today and nothing will ever come between us, not even death. Here’s a poem I wrote for my grandfather and grandmother and read after my grandmothers funeral mass. I hope my story inspires you or someone you know, you love, or you want to cherish to open those arms so all things that God has in store for you can be redeemed.
Amazing Our Path of Life
Separated from beginning
years and cheers missed.
The hopes and all desires
never spoken, always spinning.
Warm embraces, our sun kissed faces
guilt – regret, immediately forgiven.
A special bond, indescribable
nourished and flourished.
Hours, days, weeks, then years
regained, and cherished.
Separation could not break
what was born inside.
Our love, to carry on
beaming, guiding, shinning,
never to be forgotten.
Unconditional our love, lives on
in your next generation.
Also enjoy a short video of a few pictures of my family.
la mia famiglia