We share the same mom, at birth anyway, but her influence was just as intentional upon my life as with yours. You experienced her influence through the awesome privilege of knowing her, loving her, holding her, building a bond with her, while I have only had gratitude for her.
That gratitude is all I carried with me for 54 years before that transformed into information, people, and families. For myself, like all children given up for adoption, there is a real biological and emotional impact that psychologists have identified and often explained as “a sense of missing something” by adult adoptees. It has to do with a 9-month gestation period when a pre-born child actually bonds to its mother’s voice, smell, and closeness. That is the bonding process, but for a child given up for adoption, all that remains is the innate sense that “a sense of missing something” for me.
Growing up, adoption for me was a positive experience. I always knew I was adopted. In fact, I grew up in a family of five adopted children. Interestingly, of my adopted siblings, I am the only one who has been able to identify my biological family, although the others have tried long before I did. If it wasn’t for some medical issues, I may have never tried. I have always cherished my adopted parent’s love in that they changed my diapers and put up with my adolescence.
As I found myself employed as a church pastor and even as a hospital chaplain, I became more aware of how pronounced a child becomes to a mother’s emotion. Without knowing the circumstances of my birth mother at the time of my adoption, the thought began to occur to me that she likely suffered a daily haunting of hopes that her decision for adoption was the right one.
As my step-siblings and families, I have tried to reach out just enough to let you know that I will connect with you according to your own interest. I am certainly always willing to answer any questions you may have, to draw closer or stay at a distance, but have been intentional about not being assertive, just present and available.
Admittedly, It never occurred to me that a sudden discovery of a sibling could cause doubt or defense toward a mother’s character or past. It simply never occurred to me that my birth mother acted in anyway other than with a motive of love and nurture for my future. So I wouldn’t want any to entertain any thoughts of dark past or hidden life because of my unknown birth.
Not knowing everything about a parent’s distant past is not always a negative thing worthy of suspicion, but perhaps a parent’s intentional way to preserve a present relationship. Several years ago I talked on the phone with a relative who commented to me that her life seemed happy and content in Colorado. We sometimes don’t think of our parents as people who deserve grace or forgiveness until we reach our own agedness, and realize they simply done what was deemed best with whatever they had to choose from at the time.
On the paternal side of my situation, our mom meet my birth dad at a bar and grill at a very bleak time in her life. She was a divorced single mother of two small children and if you do the math, I won the fertilization race somewhere around the New Years holidays. Which makes me think of the weight of loneliness and worry she likely carried as she faced an uncertain new year and future.
At the time my birth dad was helping his sister’s business by subbing for the bar tender when he apparently took an interest in her. He was Italian and 21 years older than she. He did not know or was at least never informed she became pregnant.
It is not known if this was consensual or not, and we will never know. We can speculate either way. He was 45 years old while she was only 24 years old, he had a military background, separated from his own wife at the time, and it is conceivable that any sort of aggressive advances would work in his favor. If the encounter was not a consensual one, 1962 was not exactly the year to openly accuse a man of rape.
If it was a consensual one we could just as easily speculate that there must have been a degree of remorse because he never knew of the pregnancy and was never informed of the pregnancy or my birth, as far as I know. There are only two people that know what happened that day and neither are here to tell.
What I do know, is that our mom made a very difficult and loving decision that changed the trajectory of my life and that was exactly what she intended.