It’s a strange thing to explain to to others how intricately involved your heart can be with two people who for all intents and purposes are perfect strangers.
My obsession with finding my parents consumed me so completely that at times I thought I would quite literally lose my mind in the process.
Meeting my father and subsequently never seeing him again just about finished me off.
It was only many years later when I finally met one of his sons that I discovered that he had in fact intended to keep his promise to include me in his family.
He had spoken to his wife after he had met me and had wanted to invite me to the house for Christmas.
She had quite rightly refused, poor woman must have been horrified at the thought!
My dad had also had a conversation with my brother asking how he would feel if he found out he had a sister. Dad was laying the path for my entry into the family, slowly and methodically. How could he possibly know that time was a factor?
I met him a few months before my birthday and when that day came, I stayed at home all day waiting for him to call – nothing! The same story with Christmas – I refused to go out. I didn’t own a cellphone at that time, so I stayed by the phone desperate for him to call and wish me. I was devastated when he didn’t. I couldn’t understand. Had he lied to me? I eventually called him twice over the next two years and wrote him a letter, and each time he assured me that he was working on introducing me and that he would see me soon.
It was during this time that I resigned from the newspapers. I think back now and realise that I was probably having a bit of a breakdown. The situation with my dad had overwhelmed me to the point where I was unable to concentrate and I was literally going to work and doing nothing. I was empty of everything but pain.
The day after my biological father died my adoptive mother walked into my home waving a newspaper and briskly announced ‘your fathers dead’. Just like that! I was devastated! All those years of yearning, all those years of waiting for answers, hoping for acknowledgement and it was all gone. I have had many occassions to cry over the years, but truly, seldom like that. I remember sitting on my bed with my head bowed and watching the tears literally fall out of my eyes.
I must have sat like that for hours because I remember going through two full toilet rolls before I was done. I wasn’t working at the time and needed to get fresh air. I walked around for hours in a daze – I was in a state of shock. I knew a lot of people in the area and as I bumped into them I remember blurting out ‘ my father just died’ and walking off.
My mom had left the newspaper for me so I knew where and when the funeral was to be held. I was desperate to go and say my last goodbyes. But how could I really? Even if I snuck in quietly and sat at the back, someone might have noticed a young woman howling her eyes out and started asking questions.
Discovering the bastard child at the funeral would have been a slap that I was not willing to give to a family in grief. No matter how desperate my need to be there, I could not do that to them, so I stayed away. The day of the funeral I spent alone and broken and completely inconsolable.
There are many reasons why my own personal identity was always so closely tied to finding my family. Even now with maturity, wisdom and understanding I still feel the ache of missed opportunities. I still grieve my father, a man I never had an opportunity to know. Intellectual knowledge doesn’t do much for emotional need, it helps you understand the place that need was born but is often hopeless in healing it.
Many years later once I had made contact with one of my brothers I attempted to explain it to him. He of course didn’t really understand my grief. I never knew the man so what’s the big deal? I recently went to his mom’s house for the first time and again got emotional being there. His mom and I had become friends in the preceding years but not once had I been to the family home. I again tried hopelessly to explain my reaction, but it was lost on her although she did a better job of hiding that fact, bless her!
No matter how far we come in our lives we carry certain expectations with us. Adoptive kids looking for their families are desperate for inclusion, love and acceptance and most of all – for answers.
My search has always been focused on my parents. Through sheer miracles I have now managed to find and connect with both sides of my family. I now have more relatives than socks, but as I write this I have still not met my mother. I have found her family, but finding her seems to be more difficult. I have discovered that she is in care and very ill and the family seems to have broken contact. Due to her illness I have been discouraged from going further. I know that my expectations will not be met and that meeting her could quite likely be extremely traumatic. But she is the one I’ve called to all my life. I don’t negate the importance of my new family – on the contrary, they have brought me more joy than I ever imagined having, but my path will not be complete without her.
I understand that there is no way to prepare for meeting her, so I’m not going to try, but whether she’s comatose or howling at the moon, my journey must end at the foot of her bed.
At least this time I’ll have a family to hold me close afterwards.