I have quite a few friends that are either adopted or have lived their life not knowing a biological parent.
Maybe we gravitate toward each other. Connected by this common bond. Maybe that is why we can be so open about our truth, our feelings and our journey. Because we can relate on that level.
Each friend that has met a biological parent after been raised by their adopted or single parent has had a different experience. Some have only had one encounter. Others have gone on to find their entire family. Some have felt embraced while others have walked away feeling like strangers.
I have a friend, Mark, I work occasionally with. He never knew his father. He had the chance, as an adult, to meet his siblings. Turns out, there were 8 of them across the US.
He traveled to the south and met them all. However, he never met his father. He always didn't feel ready... yet.
He knows I've been looking for my family. He's been asking about my experience every time I see him. Last Friday, I told him everything that has happened and where we are.
I shared with him how my aunt Diane and I got into contact after ancestry. I told him my parents got married the next time they got pregnant. That I have two full siblings. A sister, 11 months younger than me and a little brother.
His face was beaming as I told him how I've called them and talked to my aunt, sister and brother.
"What about your mom?" He asked.
"Not yet." I said... also telling him how slow I have been going.
"Don't." Was his reaction.
"I have to." I said back. "I have to process as I go. It's a lot."
"It is a lot." He said. "But don't waste any more time."
"Embrace it." He said. "You never know how much time you have."
He then told me how he was the same way. Hesitant about meeting his dad. He took his time getting to know his siblings. Always thinking he would talk to his father next. When he was ready.
In the process, his father died. His chance to meet him was gone. He shared with me it was his one regret. How much he wishes he had that single moment with him. That he got to shake his hand. Touch him. Show him the man he had become. Witness the man his father did.
As he spoke, I remember the relief I felt when my aunt shared that everyone was still alive.
In my search, a lot of things crossed my mind. I could have been a secret. I could have been unwanted. I could be too late. They could be dead.
The fear of that reality is one of the reason I waited so long to find them. I didn't know how I would handle the heartbreak of truth, knowing anything was possible. I replayed in my mind all the regret I possessed for my mother who raised me. All the things I wished I said or did before she passed. How devastated I would have been if that moment passed with my birth family. If I missed it.
His words registering... Our time here only fleeting.
I reached out to my birth mother in email asking if she could talk the next day. She welcomed my call "anytime", she wrote.
An embarrassment of my hesitation surfaced. Recognizing it only as my fear. A fear that no longer felt warranted.
She answered on the first ring. She mentioned she had a cold. Snow had already fallen where she was living. She ran out of medication she was supposed to be on. The waitlist for the doctor was over 2 months.
As she spoke, time hit me. Mark's words echoed. "You don't know how much time you have."
I asked her to go to an Urgent care just to get checked and her meds refilled.
We talked for over an hour. Her telling me about her youth. About my father. About their life. About my siblings. Filling in blanks I have had my entire life. Reassuring me not a day has passed she didn't want me... or searched. Only to meet the same fate I did. "Records are sealed. Adoption is closed."
Distant, but close at heart. Hoping, just as me, we would meet. Hoping, we wouldn't run out of time.
We ended the conversation with her promising she would go to Urgent care. And she would keep me posted.
Two days later, she wrote she went and was immediately sent to the ER with a RSV diagnosis. She's on oxygen, got her meds and will be fine. She's being discharged tomorrow.
Mark's words echoing in my mind.
I want to find the balance between listening to myself and being brave enough to keep going.
I know what regret feels like. I also know what second chances are capable of. The beauty they possess with the retrospect of my human mistakes.
I don' t want to make the same ones. I've learned too much from the mistakes I've made. I don't want to live in fear or exist in regret.
I have yearned to meet this family. My family. As emotional as it gets, I'm going to keep showing up. I have so much to learn. I have so much to experience with them. Along side of them. We have lost time. I don't want to lose anymore.
So... we'll see what happens... I promise to keep you posted...