We are all different and as we live our lives we all translate our experiences in different ways. It is not a foregone conclusion that kids who were adopted will have a need to find their biological families, and even if they do they might not necessarily want to maintain that contact.
I don’t fit into that group. I have always wanted to find my parents and never wanted to consider the possibility that they might not want to include me in their lives. I played various scenarios through my mind over the years. I met my folks, I looked fantastic and was successful, confident and gracious. I made it quite clear that I didn’t want to intrude on their lives although I would love to have a relationship with them.
If they thought it would upset their families I would not make a nuisance of myself etc,etc, etc……
The truth is, I would have walked away if that’s what they wanted, but it would have destroyed me and with my father, it nearly did.
When I went to the adoption agency to try and get info on the family I was given the bare minimum. To find my father I was armed with his initial, surname and a basic physical description, which decades later would not help. I had tried to look him up in the local phone directory but most of my effort had gone into finding my mother. When that trail again went cold I turned my attention to finding him. The funny thing was that he had been in the local phone directory all the time, but for some reason I had never found him. In retrospect I believe it was the Universes’ way of allowing me to grow a little before we met. I was too fragile in earlier years to have handled what happened after I eventually met him.
I began calling everyone with his initials and eventually spoke to a very sweet woman who said that the man I was looking for was her husband and asked me what I wanted with him. I said it was a personal matter and fortunately she didn’t ask further questions. He wasn’t home at the time so I said I would phone later.
I then contacted the woman at the adoption agency for advice. Her response was that unless I paid for her services she wasn’t going to get involved.
10 years later and she was still a bottom feeder!
It seems that she did make a call to him at some stage to warn him that I was going to call.
It came out later that his wife had told him that it was probably one of his illegitimate kids on the phone! Ouch!
I can’t remember the details of the phone call I made to him, but he agreed to meet me and would collect me at work and take me to lunch.
The day arrived and I thought I was going to throw up or pass out! The picture of our meeting was so off-base it was ridiculous. Instead of gorgeous and gracious I was overweight, wearing a top and skirt that had fitted me years before and was tight and uncomfortable. I remember wearing these ‘lovely’ hessian shoes that matched the outfit but were waaay past the comfortable fitting date. I had bypassed lady-like perspiration and was sweating like a pig from nerves! All in all I was a wreck! Anyway I managed to live past the first 4 hours of work and finally the time arrived to meet him downstairs. He had told me what car he would be driving so there I stood working industriously on my nervous breakdown and waiting for my daddy to arrive.
So this car pulls up and this foreign looking man smiles at me and says something like ‘hello sweetheart, I hope I didn’t keep you waiting.’
I just stared. You’re my dad? Seriously?
And this is the thing. Sometimes, you really do look like your parents, but you have a lifetime with them and by the time they age you don’t question the physical differences. I only met my dad when I was 27, by which time he had lost most of his hair and his bulk and was a complete physical stranger to me.
There was zero recognition. Nothing spiritual, physical or emotional that I could latch onto. Of course in later years, after meeting my brother and his mom and going through family pics, I could eventually see family resemblances, but when I met him I really struggled to reconcile what I had been told with what was before me.
I was also a nervous wreck so I doubt my brain was capable of too much at that point anyway!
So off we went to one of his favourite restaurants. As he drove I was happy to see his hands shaking on the wheel, so perhaps I wasn’t the only one feeling the strain-whew!
He took me to this gorgeous restaurant with a lovely view of the sea. I would rather have committed suicide by spoon than attempt to eat, and left the ordering to him. I don’t know if I ate anything much, but damn did I smoke up a storm. Fortunately he did too!
I wish I remember more of our conversation but I was too overwhelmed at the time. What I do remember is that he was gentle and gracious.
He had been with my mum while engaged to another lady, but couldn’t quite remember which one she was. Sounds horrid?
The funny thing was that he didn’t lie. He didn’t try and make things better. He spoke openly and honestly about himself and his life. He told me that he had a beautiful and supernaturally patient wife who he knew he didn’t deserve. He said that he couldn’t believe she hadn’t left him, and that despite his errant behaviour he had never stopped loving her.
At the time I appreciated his honesty but couldn’t quite get the affairs aspect. It was only years later when I met his mother that I began to understand. She said that the men in her world were raised to be the conquerors, they were the head of the households and as long as they came back to their wives and supported their families, the girlfriends on the side were perfectly acceptable. She said the continental males were all raised like that. Hmmm..ok…..well what could I say?
Despite all that I really liked him. I have always preferred honesty above etiquette. He had never known about me and said that if he had he would have taken care of me, that he wasn’t a man to turn his back on family. That nearly broke me! I gave him the spiel about not wanting to intrude on his life and he responded by saying that I was part of his family and he would find a way to include me.
I never saw him again. He died 2 years later.