Graftings

I'm an adoptee. At 60 years old, I discovered my birth families.

Now What?

I sold The Last House. Number Twenty-Two. The Dream House I had waited for all.those.years.  I wept as I sat at the title office, signing the papers. My Daughter and my Sister-in-Law had found a cute little patio home for me; smaller, easier to manage, where the grass would be cut and the sidewalks shovelled. I was ready to downsize, anyway. I’d been rattling around this big house, alone, with all the accumulated detritus of the last 30 years:  my stuff, Diane’s stuff, Mom and Dad’s stuff, and Rick’s stuff. I was in overwhelm, although I don’t remember admitting to it.

In the ensuing decade, another Daughter married and I had three more GrandSons. It just seemed to flash by, even as I worked through the changes the previous decade had wrought, including a massive, all-encompasing depression. I eventually crawled out from under that particular demon.

And I met someone. Someone special. Rick had prayed, from the moment he knew he was very, very ill, that God would send me a “good and godly man”; someone to care for me, since he wasn’t going to be able to do that. God did. David and I were married between GrandSons and I not only gained a Husband, but four more Kids, and, eventually, four more Grandkids.

The back burner continued to simmer.

At one point, a friend asked me to help her make heads-or-tails of an old family mystery. In the course of this, I shared with her my paperwork; what I had learnt about St Vincent’s, and who I speculated the elusive Charlotte McManus could be. As we searched for her answers, we searched for mine extending out to neighbouring states. Still nothing. We couldn’t find anyone even close to an approximately reasonable age-range anywhere close to Chicago.

Then one day, a few years after these half-hearted attempts (driven more by the curiosity of friends than my own), another friend of mine whom I call “The Intrusive Genealogist”(Hi, Denise!) mentioned Ancestry and their autosomal DNA test. Remember Sophomore Biology? from that time, I had begun to gather information about the family I knew, building a Family Tree. Ancestry has all sorts of records and databases that aid this sort of search. So that’s what I had been doing; building trees with what I had always known.

So. atDNA. What’s that? From ISOGG:  “Autosomal DNA is a term used in genetic genealogy to describe DNA which is inherited from the autosomal chromosomes. An autosome is any of the numbered chromosomes, as opposed to the sex chromosomes. Humans have 22 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes (the X chromosome and the Y chromosome).” Uh-huh. Say again? Basically, this is the genetic material you inherit from your ancestors. How much you get from any one ancestor is pretty random; but you get will get a recombined amount of 50% from Mom and 50% from Dad. One of the selling points, at least for Ancestry, is an atDNA test can offer  you some information about your ethnicity. I had always been told I was Irish and German. Was that true? Am I really?

The Intrusive Genealogist hands me a test (she is very keen on genealogy and always has spares…) and encourages me to “go for it”. The test is simple enough. Register the test identifier on Ancestry, spit in the tube, wait for results. No biggie.

But then there was the under-the-water part of this iceberg of which I was absolutely clueless and which had failed to be made very, very clear. Like, there’s an iceberg???

David and I were on what has become our Annual Trek to California. On the motorcycle. In 2015. When the back burner suddenly began to boil over.

Better, Worse, Sickness, Health

DCP_0212Diane, Rick, and I had pretty much settled into our second “construction home” whilst building our final, permanent, I’m-not-moving-again, Dream House. We had been married for almost 26 years, and we had moved 19 times. This was THE HOUSE. House Number Twenty-Two. I’d had enough. Period.

For years, I had carted around a clipping file; magazine tear sheets of everything I loved and hoped for in a house. So when it came time to build The Last One, we set it all down on paper, handed it to our builder, and got an estimate. Then we started to cull the list. No… you can’t have everything, although it’s fun to dream.

We finalised our plans, and broke ground. That Summer, as time dragged on, we all looked for things to do. Diane was working and preparing to go back to University. I had re-engaged in the music program at church, directing choir, singing, playing piano. Rick decided to drag out the old sax, warm up his chops, and play with a community band.

He was rustier than he thought. We went to the music store and got softer reeds, but he was still having some difficulty with his emboucher. Of course, it had been :mumblemumble: years, and he was out of practice; but his breath control was a bit off.  Odd.

Old age, we kidded him. Out of shape. Too much stress, too much crazy in the last eighteen months.

September rolled around and we closed on The Last House. Got the stuff we hadn’t seen in  for.ev.er, got the things I had inherited from Mom and Dad out of storage, and started decorating. In odd moments, I still looked for Charlotte McManus, but even with better internet, and better databases, I still came up empty. I even contacted Catholic Charities in Chicago, but it was going to be costly and time-consuming. Illinois was still a closed state for adoption records. Back on the back burner.

Christmas rolled around and we noticed that Rick was beginning to have a bit of difficulty speaking. It was especially noticeable on the phone. He began having trouble chewing and swallowing; he seemed to bite his tongue fairly frequently. By February, the speech issue was very noticeable. Enough so, he had his co-pilots do any radio calls for him on especially bad days. He wasn’t ill, exactly; he had no other symptoms. Just this thing with his mouth.

He had no trouble passing his semi-annual flight physicals. But I insisted we see a doctor.  So we did. Lots of tests, lots of guesses, lots of rabbit trails, more tests… no answers. We were referred to Dr Larry Goldstick, a neurologist who had done his residency at the Cleveland Clinic. By now, I was trawling the internet, and I thought, perhaps, I had found something. After one of Rick’s appointments, in May of 2003, I asked Dr Goldstick. His startled response, “God, I hope not!”

So off we go to The Cleveland Clinic for some more tests and evaluations. Nothing definitive.

Eventually, Rick was grounded because of his speech issues. Yet the rest of him seemed fine.  He still continued to pass all his flight physicals. Strange.

We gave him a Surprise Party for his 50th Birthday. Diane graduated, with honours, November, 2004.  Next February, she moved to China to prepare herself for graduate school.  But before she left, Rick took The Girls for a ride. It was the last time he flew. In April, he, with Julie’s help, gave me a party for MY 50th Birthday. A week later, his neck muscles gave out.

I called Diane in China and she came home. I called the Doctors who called Hospice. And, finally, we had a diagnosis:  Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. ALS. Lou Gehrig’s Disease. You know, the Ice Bucket Challenge. ALS is a hard thing to diagnose. It takes a specialist doctor who can read the symptoms; both upper and lower motor neuron involvement with three areas of the body affected. None of that had happened until April, when Rick’s neck muscles failed to hold his head up, and his left hand began to weaken. He looked and acted as if nothing was wrong. He just couldn’t talk, eat, swallow. Until that April.

In May, Julie discovered she was pregnant. Rick’s response? “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes; blessed be the Name of the Lord!” We did a lot as a family during May and June. We learnt not to squander time.

One glad morning when this life is o’er, I’ll fly away…
And he did.  Quietly, peacefully.  20 June 2005.

When Rick and I married, back in 1976, we repeated our vows like almost every other married couple does: “…to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.” In the 28+ years we were together, I learnt what those words meant. I learnt that, on my wedding day, I was vowing better, richer, healthier…with death about a hundred years off. In the time that Rick was sick, I learnt the rest of it; the heart and the soul of those vows…that it wasn’t just, only, all about me; it was worse, poorer, sickness, and death, up close and personal. It was about him. About us. Together.

We had a Memorial Service a week later. In December, our first Grandson was born, safe and healthy. As I did with both of my Daughters, I looked for myself in him; his face, his hands, his burgeoning personality. Life continued. The heat under my back burner slowly rose as I measured my losses and grieved anew.

And my questions began to bubble to the surface.

How I Missed 9/11

2001.  Now that was the year that was.  But not for the reason most folk think…

The year began with half of us moving several states south, 1 of us moving several streets north, and 1 of us packing up the minivan with all sorts of odd essentials, and living like a nomad.  Julie, our younger Daughter, had become engaged to be married to a lovely young man…well, that was 15 years ago, although he is still a young man to me…and we were in the midst of The Wedding.  Plans were going along quite smoothly, thank you very much, when Rick’s employer threw a massive spanner into the works:  you are being assigned to the new hub in south Florida.

Say what?

At the time, Rick’s employer, the late, great, Airborne Express, had but one hub and it was where we had happily settled in 1994.  So we had a choice:  Rick could become one of the pilots that commuted to his hub (a nightmare at best), or, we could pull up stakes and move…lock, stock, and barrel…for the three years we were guaranteed to be in Florida.  There was just one small hiccup.  We had to move within a 90 day window if we wanted ABX to pay for it.

The Wedding was planned for October.  Our 90 day window ended in 1 April.  April Fool’s.

Rick had move in January.  So we celebrated Christmas with Mom, came home, packed him up, and waved good-bye.  I felt like a military wife.  Again.  Put the house on the market the first week in February; sold it in 4 days.  Flew down to Florida to get started on the new house.  Came home, arranged for packers and movers, and started renegotiating The Wedding Vendors.  Not too many problems, except it blew all the flowers we had planned.  Changed flowers.  Dress is now on “RUSH”.  Arranged to stay with friends after we move stuff to Florida.  Rick rents temporary housing while we build; Diane gets a job in Florida; Julie in final semester of college.  Oh! my Sister has another bouncing Baby Boy.  Yay!  Phone rings.

It’s Mom.  “Hi!  I know the movers will be at your house next week, but I’d like to see you beforehand.  Any chance you could come up for a quick visit?”

Sure!  No problem!  I can’t remember now if I flew or drove, but I remember having lunch with Mom on St Patrick’s Day after I got there.  Apparently, Mom’s scheduled for bypass surgery the day the movers will be at my house; something she hadn’t mentioned before now because, “I didn’t want to worry you; you have so much going on.”  Seriously?

The week of the move, Rick gets a schedule with some days off, comes back, and we’re all there to pack Diane’s car with whatever she needs for Florida (since our household goods will be there in about a week).  Then we pack Julie’s car with what she needs for the next four months, and my minivan with whatever The Wedding needs, I need, and some clothes that will take me through to June 18th…two days after The Wedding.  At that point, Rick and I will drive together to Florida.  Just as I am getting concerned about not having heard from my Sister about Mom’s surgery, the phone rings.  It’s Mom’s Sister, Aunt Millie.

“You need to come up.  Now.  Your Mom needs you. Now.  She knows the movers just left, but you need to come.  Now.  Things didn’t go very well.”

“Ok.  I can leave in the morning.  But, what about…”

“We’ll handle that.  Just come as soon as you can.”

So we settle Julie in at our friends, Diane and Rick start back to Florida, and I drive up to Chicago.  Now.  Again.

Eleven weeks later, Mom is gone.  The simple bypass surgery wasn’t so simple after all.  We buried Mom with Dad on their 58th Wedding Anniversary, a glorious, perfect June day.

Memory Eternal, Mom and Dad.  Memory Eternal!

In the midst of all this, Julie graduated University…and got married.  The Wedding was perfect, once we found Diane’s dress, that is.

On June 18th, we drove to Florida.  Diane had “shopped” through our household goods and made our temporary house the perfect home.  I still remember how hard she worked to put it all together; how proud I am of the job she did, making everything perfect for me, for us, in spite of the chaos of those months.  Julie and her Husband had a wonderful honeymoon on Key West.  The dust seemed to be settling.

For about six weeks.

ABX decided our three years was over after eight months and we were being assigned back to where we started.  That was in August.  The house wasn’t completed, yet.  Neither was the lease on our temporary “construction home”.  So again, I stayed, Rick left. We sold our lovely Florida house before we even owned it, started another house, and found another temporary “construction home”.  ABX, again, gave us 90 days to move.  So, by February, Diane and I were back in Ohio.  Are you tracking this, dear Reader?  Between January and September, we had bought and sold two houses, moved twice, buried my Mother, gained a Nephew, picked up a Bachelor’s degree, and launched a new Family with the marriage of our Daughter.  And people wonder why I have to stop and think when they mention 9/11?  Of course, 9/11 was in there, somewhere…and, yes, we remember it, mainly because Rick was flying that day.  Or was scheduled to fly.  He didn’t, though, as we learnt later.

Then another shoe dropped.

Marie Walter McManus

Thanksgiving, 1998.  TV Room.  Mom and Dad.

It was over a year before I took more than a cursory glance at the legal document Dad had handed me that night about an hour before we left for my Cousin’s house for what would be our last Thanksgiving Dinner together as a family.  When I finally got to it, really got to it, I was stunned.   Three pages of legal paper, typed, folded in fourths.  And on the front fold a bunch of legalese including this:

“IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION OF…TO ADOPT MARIE WALTER MCMANUS, A MINOR”

Huh.  Is this a real name?  Is this me?  Huh.  I had given my younger Daughter “Marie” as a middle name.  How odd!  I’d had no idea.  Interesting coincidence!

As I read through the pages, I noticed two things:

“Paragraph 4.  That Charlotte McManus, the mother, surrendered…”  Who?  Mother?  My Mother?  Is this her name?

“IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the name of said child shall be changed to Laura Ann Luner.”  Come again?  Name change?  Legal name change?  Then…these must be real names.  Legal names; else, why would there be a legal change of names?

But.  But. My mind whirled with questions…

In the whole of my life I had never asked.  Never wondered.  I remember how, over the years, my Parents poked at me a bit, prodded me, asked me if I wondered, if I had questions, if there was anything I wanted to know.  I remember stories my Mom used to tell me about going to St Vincent’s and seeing me, picking me out, talking with Sr Mary Alice and about the book Sister had kept with the picture and the story of every child she had placed.  I remember one poignant story about Mom and Dad in the elevator, holding me, taking me home, and the elevator opening to a very young, very pregnant woman who saw my Parents, saw me, and burst into tears, saying, “I hope my baby gets two parents like you!”

My Mom never forgot that; never forgot there was a young woman out there, somewhere, who had given me life.  And she was grateful.  I never heard that story without tears welling in Mom’s eyes, emotion choking her voice.

I also remembered that one of the few things Mom had said to me on that last Thanksgiving was not to put too much stock into the names I would find in this document.  “We have no way of knowing if they were real names or not”, she said.  “A lot of young women tried to hide themselves with false names, false information.”

Okaaayyy.  I was more than aware that giving birth as a single Mom in the 1950s was a shame-inducing proposition.  I knew the usual ruse was for girls to “go see Aunt Edith” in a far away state for the duration.  Heck!  The English television show “Downton Abbey” even had a storyline that went into this!  Times have certainly changed, but only as recently as in my lifetime.

Yet, still, I was feeling a bit curious.  For the first time ever in my memory, I had questions.  While I always felt incredibly positive, grateful, really, towards the woman who had birthed me, then made the stunning sacrifice of releasing me for adoption,  I never had a burning desire to know much about her.  Why dredge up the past?  She had made her choice and I was content with it.  So I was surprised that these latent feelings of curiosity were there.  I did a bit of poking around…and came up empty.  There wasn’t a single record of a Charlotte McManus in all of the state of Illinois from 1925-1940.  None.  I left it alone.  Besides, Life was, still and again, ramping up.

I put this, along with those other papers I already had seen lo! those many years ago, on the back burner.

What Doesn’t Kill You…

…makes you stronger. Right?

It was the end of September, 1998.  We’d had a wondrous, glorious Summer that year.  Mom and Dad had celebrated 55 years of marriage that June.  But they opted to go somewhere other than Hawai’i for their traditional anniversary trip.  In recent years, Hawai’i had changed; some of their favourite places were gone, or had morphed to accommodate a different sort of traveler.  The resorts they had stayed at in years past were becoming more crowded, less quiet and restful.  It just wasn’t fun for them anymore.  So Mom decided she wanted to go back to Europe.  Apparently, it wasn’t the best choice.  Later, she really regretted that trip.  My Dad loved Hawai’i; loved the sun, the sand, the beach, the warmth.  Europe, that year, had none of that.  It was cold, rainy, and unfriendly.  And Dad apparently wrenched something in is shoulder.

Or so we thought.

My eldest daughter, Diane, was back at University that September.  Rick, my (late) Husband-the-Pilot had bid for and got a great pilot’s position in his company.  We were finally getting ready to buy a house where we were, settle in, and grow some roots after 21 years of moving around, tracking his career.  Julie, my younger daughter, had graduated from High School. She was starting University that Autumn.  All was well.

Or so we thought.

My Sister and her Husband had their first child.  A beautiful bouncing Baby Boy.  We all drove up for the Shower in August and, darn! if she didn’t pop while we were there!  It was quite the surprise.  Dad celebrated his birthday later in the month and we went back home, happy, content to get The Girls settled in their respective schools.  Again…it was a happy, lovely summer.  So many blessings.  So many memories.

Or so we thought.

So back to September. I get this email from my Mom.  Yeah, we were pretty technologically savvy way back then.  I still remember most of what Mom wrote, “We’re not sure where this is going, so keep it to yourself.  Dad may have cancer.  He doesn’t want you to know yet.  When I know more, I will let you know.  Love, Mom”.

And cancer it was.

At my Nephew’s baptism in October, Dad was in obvious pain.  And he was weary.  The chemo and radiation was intense.  He had lost some weight, but he was looking pretty good, all things considered.  By Thanksgiving, all bets were off.  Then came Christmas.  By Christmas, Dad was sleeping in a hospital bed in their TV room.  My Sister, the nurse, was pretty much living there with her Firstborn, caring for our Dad while breastfeeding her Son.  Mom was doing everything in her power, quietly, efficiently, for the love of her life.  We drove home before New Year’s to get everyone back to work; back to school.

On January 2nd, Mom called.  I remember crumpling to the floor, weeping.  Rick was outside, vainly shovelling the falling snow.

Mom called during the worst blizzard the Midwest had had in a decade, maybe longer.  It took us two days to get Diane home from University, a 90 minute drive; 18 hours to drive up to Chicago…normally a 6 hour drive.  The Interstate had been closed through most of Indiana ahead of us, and they were closing it behind us even as we drove north.  So we drove the back roads, begging local sheriffs to let us through because…because…  I couldn’t talk.  We concentrated on driving.

But before Dad died, back during our Thanksgiving visit, before we went to have Thanksgiving dinner at one of my cousin’s, he and Mom wanted to talk to me about something; something important.  Mom and Dad were sitting in the TV room.  It went something like this:

We have a family lawyer, my cousin, Paul, who is married to my cousin Bev.  Dad put Paul on retainer back when he passed the bar in the 1960s.  So I’ve known Paul for.ev.er.  Well, Dad says to me, “Paul is ready with whatever you need if you want to pursue this through the courts.  We love you; we’ll always love you.  And we are here to help you and support you in any way we can.”  And he hands me a legal document.

Dad hands me their original copy of my adoption papers.

Wow.

Laurie Has Two Mommies

One of the more confusing things about being adopted is, “How do you talk about this???” I have two Moms and two Dads.  I have a Birth Mother, commonly referred to as a BM, and I have a Birth Father, the BF.  There are other common acronyms in my world as well:  autosomal DNA (atDNA), original birth certificate (OBC), non-identifying information (non-ID).  And there’s more.  Just wait.

But I digress…

Then there’s the people who raised me; who loved me; who put braces on my teeth, sent me to ballet, encouraged my academics, nurtured my singing.  They fed me, clothed me, spanked me, and were there when my heart got broken.  My Dad would tuck me in bed at night, and say to me, “Tell me how you feel; I was never a 14-year old girl!”  Oh, Daddy!  You were never a GIRL!

Since I’ve found my birth family, it’s gotten more complicated.  Mom, Dad, Dad, Mom…now there are four, when, for 60 years, there were two with the underlying knowledge, as yet consciously unacknowledged, that there were others, lurking in the wings, waiting, hoping? maybe? to be discovered.

For now, Mom means Margie, my Mom who adopted me.  And Dad would be Harry, her husband of almost 56 years, who adopted me with her.  I have  pictures of them  and their families throughout their lives up to their wondrous 50th Anniversary Party and beyond. My Mom loved to travel.  We traveled quite a bit as a family.  But it wasn’t until the nest was pretty much empty, that Mom and Dad really traveled the world.  Dad was quite the photographer, so, between them, we have this legacy of scrapbooks chronicling our life as a family, and their later trips as a couple. Here they are  on their 50th Anniversary trip:

IMG_0043

Such a cute couple!  Even at the end, they still held hands…

Charlotte is my BM, the young woman who had me and released me for adoption.  I have several pictures of her from over the years.  My BF is another story, though.  For later.

Then there are other family members, Brothers, Sister, In-laws, StepDad, Nephews, Nieces.  Cousins.  I have lots and lots of Cousins.  Generally, I just talk about my family as they come up in my life.

I know…this gets a little complicated.  I’m sure you can keep up.

Sophomore Biology

Fast forward to Sophomore biology and Sr Mary Ivan.  Drosophila flies, Bunsen burners, double-pithing frogs… I’m sure some of you remember.  There we were, twenty-odd girls, trying to learn the basics of life, when we come to the chapter on deoxyribonucleic acid.  DNA.  Watson and Crick, the double-helix, and all that cool stuff that wouldn’t come alive to me until almost 50 years later.

So Sister gives us our class assignment:  make a chart of you, your Mom and Dad, their parents, and, if possible, their parents and track their eye colour and ethnicity.  Here in the States, because we are the “melting pot”, it’s a fun little project.  Irish-German.  Polish-Italian.  French (by way of Canada)-Norwegian-Greek.  And everyone wants something unique, like a Romanov or a Cherokee Princess.  The assignment itself was pretty simple, really.  And it looks something like this:

EyeColorFamilyTree

So I gathered the photos we had of my Mom and Dad, my Nonny and Grandpa (Mom’s side), and I talked with my Dad about his family.  I constructed my chart, wrote my paper. I learned about my Nonny being German, Prussian to her time, and that my Dad’s family came from Austria.  I learned I had two Irish Great-Grandmothers and, by-and-large, my green-hazel eyes were a good match to my Dad’s blue-hazel with my Mom’s blue.  Those nuns at St Vincent’s certainly knew what they were about, matching babies to families.

Yeah.  Well, I lived in a small Chicago suburb and everyone knew everyone else and their business.  Sr Mary Ivan pulled me aside and quietly suggested she couldn’t accept what I had turned in since, well, we all knew this isn’t my real family.  Why don’t I do a bit of research and write something about acquired characteristics.  You know, how folk who have lived together for a very long time start to copy each other, mirror their mannerisms and facial expressions and, thus, begin to look like each other.  Amazing what those women knew behind their convent walls.

“YesStr.” (make sure you run it together…Catholic kid dialect…)  What else could I say?

Well, Sr Mary Ivan set me up for life that day, because two things happened:  1) I became intrigued by genealogy and started researching and building my Family’s Tree (screw the “reality” of the relationships).  b)  I tucked away a deep, profound need to find pieces of myself in others.  To know more about my DNA.  I suppose I should be grateful to her.

So fast forward about six years, after the birth of my eldest Daughter, and I’m looking for me in her.  Same-same when her Sister was born, three years later.  Fast forward another 25 years after that, and my eldest Grandson consumes me.  Am I there?  Does he look like me? think like me? act like me?

And I find myself building my tree backwards; figuring myself out by looking at my descendants, because my ancestors are a mystery.

But I had read Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden.  I knew how to crack mysteries…

Signed, Sealed, Delivered…

I don’t remember being adopted.  I don’t remember not being adopted; it has always been a part of my life.  I do have a memory of my younger Sister’s adoption proceedings from when I was about three years old.  But adoption, for me, was the norm.  NOT being adopted was exotic and strange.  And, as I got older, and kids, being kids, thought they could taunt me with it, my classic response was, “Your parents got stuck with you.  Mine chose me; I was picked!”  Which, indeed, I was.

I remember, one time, rifling through my Mother’s papers (don’t all kids want to know their Parents’ secrets???) and finding my birth certificate along with a paper from St Vincent’s Infant Hospital with the recipe for my infant formula; my length and weight at birth; how much vitamin D to give me.  My baptismal certificate was there as well.  I remember being mightily impressed that I had been baptised at Holy Name Cathedral, the seat of the Archbishops of the Chicago Diocese.

But it was my birth certificate that was most intriguing.  It was white on black, like a photographic negative, and it listed the names of the only people I knew as Mom and Dad.  It had my birthday on it.  And it had the signature of the doctor who attended my birth.  No big deal.  No mysteries, no surprises.  So, what’s so different about adoption, then?  It wasn’t until I was a pre-teen and a family member and her husband began to discuss adoption within my larger family…and I experienced, first-hand, some family members’ reactions…that I began to understand what adoption was and how it could affect people.  Yes, I had been signed, sealed, and delivered to my Mom and Dad, but not by the stork.  Which I knew by then, but I was a bit vague on the rest of it.  I mean, my birth certificate had their names on it, right?  How…???  :shrug:  While I knew quite a few adoptees growing up, and some of them lamented the reality of that, I just didn’t.  I was happy.  I loved my family and they loved me.  I was content and I stayed that way.  I was curious, off and on, but my curiosity was over-ridden by one over-arching thought:

In the 1950s women gave their babies for adoption, by-and-large, because something had happened that society deemed “shameful”.  The best way, they were told, for a young unmarried woman to “get on with her life” was to “put this all behind her” as quickly as possible.  So who was I, really, to go knocking on some poor woman’s front door, announcing myself (Hi, Mom!), and dredging up what might have been a difficult, painful past?  If she had truly put it behind her, there was a pretty good chance no one had been told about me…and I didn’t want to be the one to open that can of worms, potentially ruining someone’s life.  It just didn’t feel right to me.  Hadn’t she gone through enough?

So I put being adopted behind me and left it there, content in the knowledge that I had been blessed with truly wonderful parents and a wonderful childhood.  I’m yours, dear Family.  End of story.

The Journey Starts Here…

laurababy001I’m a Wife, A Mum, and a Nonny. I was, in the not-too-distant past, a Widow. I am also an Adoptee. And in a very wild ride, after my friend, whom I call the Intrusive Genealogist talked me into an autosomal DNA test with Ancestry, I have, if not new roles, as I have been a Daughter, a Sister, an Aunt, and a Cousin for years and years…but renewed roles to people who look like me and act like me; who gaze into my face and find, if not themselves, a memory of someone they knew and loved who is no longer with us and who is a very real part of me.

At sixty years old, I found my birth family.

Welcome.  This is the story of my Clan and how we found each other…again.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 120 other followers

%d bloggers like this: