“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”
( I snapped this little spine chart yesterday sitting in the exam room waiting on the doctor / Julie Cook /2019)
Pour yourself a cool glass of lemonade and pull up a chair, this may take a minute.
Yesterday I found myself sitting in the orthopedic’s exam room waiting on the doctor.
They were kind to work me in as I called on Memorial Day and they were closed.
During grandmother duty this past Saturday, something went awry in my back…
I knew when it happened…much like 3 years ago when I could be found in the same office.
Last time it was two herniated disks.
This felt much the same…sooo I knew the drill.
Shots in the back for now…we’ll see how that works before we pull
in the big guns as we did last time with an epidural and nerve block.
Things like back issues, bone issues…any medical issue really, in almost all cases,
have a hereditary leaning.
We inherit so much from our parents and from those even further down the line from previous generations.
That’s in part why our doctors are always asking us if we have a medical history for __________
allowing you and I to fill in the blank.
When you’re adopted, you almost never really know the answers.
You never really know a thing about any sort of medical history.
They don’t send home care instructions or medical charts with babies who are being adopted.
Well, they didn’t in 1959 when I was born.
So I usually tick the boxes on my doctor’s charts with an NA or an “I have absolutely no clue”
Every medical issue I’ve ever stumbled into during my lifetime has seemed to be an anomaly…
an out of the blue sort of occurrence.
Who knew this short person who has been relatively active her entire life would have bone
and back troubles?
I certainly didn’t.
I’ve written about my having been adopted on numerous occasions.
When I first began this blog 6 years ago, I pegged adoption to be one of my “discussion” topics.
We former educators always think along educational lines…so much so that when I started writing,
I was all about wanting to inform and educate…
Be it about cooking, art, travel or adoption…education was the impetus.
But in the middle of those 6 years, God redirected my words…
I found I wasn’t sharing much about those sorts of topics anymore but rather topics
God had lead me to share.
And who am I to argue with God??
But for whatever reason, I am back to revisiting the topic of adoption…
In great part, due to my concern over this culture of death we seem to be living in…
a culture that puts money, lifestyle and convenience over the sanctity of human life…
but I digress.
Adoption is a funny thing.
We adopted children are actually given a second chance at life.
Aborted babies, not so much.
Adoption is either a hard and painful choice for a woman or it is relatively simple.
It just depends on the woman.
Yet adopted children, those whose adoptive parents are very open and transparent about the adoption,
live with the knowledge that they, in essence, have two sets of parents…
a biological set and an adopted set.
It’s just that many fathers in the biological set may or may not know that they had ever fathered a child.
But that is not to be the pig trail for today’s discussion…we shall stay on topic.
Educators do try to keep the discussions on track…not unless they see a teachable moment taking
place in the diversion…today, we are on track.
A couple of weeks ago, before baby James got so sick, I wrote a post about my search for my biological parents.
Well, not totally an in-depth tale and not so much about my parents, but actually, a search for my mother.
Suffice it to know, things did not go so well.
The link is here:
However I want to back up a bit.
I was born in 1959 and adopted in 1960.
There was a little book put out in those early days for adopted parents to read to their adopted children,
a book read when the adopted parents deemed their adopted child was ready…ready to learn
the truth and could help explain the situation.
Dad read me the story when I was about 5.
I loathed that little book and I loathed the story.
Suddenly I felt separated from everyone I thought I knew as mine.
I then set out living my life,
while trying to keep the feelings of separation from that life, at bay.
I think we call that suppression.
This was the first post I wrote about my adoption—
I didn’t want to talk about being adopted nor think about it.
If I did, then my neat and tidy little world wouldn’t be so neat and tidy.
Plus I fretted about my parents and their feelings…I never wanted them to feel hurt or
pain that I was really not theirs, but rather that I was someone else’s child.
The child playing a role far beyond her age, responsibility or capacity.
For you see their second adopted child, my adopted brother who was 5 years younger than
I was, was a mess.
His life with them and the life of us as a family was doomed…
because in essence he was doomed.
He did not handle being adopted well at all, and we all suffered grievously.
It is probably one of my better posts, despite the difficulty in writing it as well as the pain
in re-reading it of which adds to the re-living…
So I suppose we could say adoption has almost haunted me my entire life.
Once, when I finally became a grown woman with my own family, I wanted to learn more.
I wanted to be able to know things for my son’s sake.
Mainly medical information, but genealogy as well.
So 10 years ago, I was troubled by those nagging questions.
Adopted children live with questions.
That’s not a bad thing…don’t educators always say, no question is a bad question?
And I thought I’d seek a few of the answers.
I had always told myself, because of what my dad had lived through with my brother,
that I would never search for my biological parent—
I knew that the thought of possibly “losing” his only living child would be too much.
So rather than seeking the answers to the big questions, I decided to look for smaller answers.
But when I did find those “answers”, they only created giant gaping holes in the story
of who I was.
I reached out the Family’s First, Georgia’s Adoption Reunion Registry—
it is what the Atlanta Adoption
Agency, the place I came from, had morphed into.
For a small fee, they would provide me with my redacted case files—
no identifying cities, last names
or any hints as to people, states, cities or places.
But the story left larger questions.
Questions I would sit on for another 10 years.
Dad died two years ago.
I now have grandchildren.
I continue to look in a mirror wondering.
What is in me that is now in those grandchildren of mine?…and whose DNA is in them?
My doctor and I had talked about me doing one of those popular DNA tests so I could
find out some medical
information to pass on to my son.
She preferred 23 and Me as it provided the best medical info.
And so I did—I did so also hoping to find some sort of family.
I found a 1st cousin in Tennessee.
When I saw his information pop up on my computer screen, I felt my heart stop.
I nervously reached out to this man and shared the story of me that I knew.
That is an on-going story but he is my first cousin on my dad’s side of the family.
He is almost certain his second cousin is my half sister—but they are all still
working on that.
The story I shared added up.
Jobs, dates, etc.
I felt euphoria.
Which quickly faded as they have lives, they are busy and a long lost sibling is
not top on their radar…
but that is not to say that they have not been kind and helpful and eventually
want to meet and share pictures.
But they are younger than I am and are in different places.
My birth dad, one of the three brothers, their uncles, has since passed away…
so no reunion there.
And as I say, that is a story still in the making.
During all of this, however, I opted to reach back out to Families First.
I was ready to pay a larger fee for a full-fledged search for my biological mother.
The social worker told me they always start with the mother.
If she is deceased, then they share information and move on to a search for the father.
She told me that I was to come up with a top 10 list of questions I wanted to be answered,
as well as a letter is written directly to my birth mother.
At the time, I was feeling a bit disconnected…perhaps it was a protection mechanism as
I was almost stoical bordering on flippant in my going forward with all of this.
I was generic in my questions and really didn’t have a full 10.
The social worker told me that they enlist the aid of a private detective and don’t
be surprised if the search takes up to 6 months.
I then tucked all of this away on a back burner.
Yet I was actually becoming a bit of an internal emotional wreck.
But as life would have it, our second grandchild was born nad life quickened.
There were some complications and time was not my own.
I really wasn’t thinking about adoption searches anymore.
But then one day out of the blue I received a call from the social worker informing me that
they had found my mother and she was indeed still alive.
I felt an electric jolt of excitement–a smile filled my face.
Hope of sorts was entering my life’s quest.
The social worker now wanted those questions and that letter—
in hopes of giving them to my mother
when she reached out to her.
I wrote fast and quick…I didn’t want to overthink or reconsider.
I wrote without even reading over what I wrote—
a letter filled with gratitude and kindness
and well wishes…and lots of typos.
And then I waited.
And life got busy, again.
So it was not until the other week when my husband and I were getting ready to
walk out the door that my phone rang.
I immediately recognized the name of the social worker and I stopped dead in my tracks.
She had been good to keep me up to speed via email, but here she was calling.
I fumbled all over myself answering and offering pleasantries.
What had begun as a rather low key nonchalant search of curiosity now had turned into
something much more…
It had grown into the notion of me seeing all of this as a second chance…a second chance
with a crucial relationship in life.
Yet I’ve known of family horror stories—those who were seeking, just as I was,
only to find disaster.
I was well aware of the risks—yet I was willing to take those risks…
because I wanted to know who made me who I was…who I am…
all those nuances that are simply the by-products of personal shared DNA.
Who looks back at me in that mirror every day.
Who has helped to build this wall inside of me?
The social worker started the conversation with,
“Julie, I heard back from your mother today through her attorney…”
I swallowed hard and stammered “attorney”…as in “oh, ok, well that says it all does it not?!”
I felt a sicking weight hit my guts.
The room shrunk in around me and I felt as if I might suffocate.
My family has had enough dealings with attorneys as of late due to
deaths and wills…here we were to go again.
Nothing with an attorney is positive.
She continued—she wants nothing to do with you…” you were from the past and
that is where you are to stay.”
Hot tears now formed in my eyes.
I wanted to yell into the phone that “you tell that attorney and that woman
that I am a good person. A kind person…
a person who I think she could be proud of…”
But I didn’t.
I was the baby she bore prematurely, without any prenatal care.
The baby she fled her family over, moving out of state.
The baby who she ended her relationship with my father over—
a man who had asked her to marry him.
She was 23 and he was 28—yet she said some things and things went too far…
and she ran—she ran from everyone and everything…and she ran into hiding.
She was a nurse who didn’t seek prenatal care.
She delivered under me using an alias.
Even a different hospital then what is on my legal birth certificate.
She gave birth and left the hospital that day.
But the social worker at the time noted in the files that twice she was called back
because I was sick
She was worried and had tears in her eyes when returning to the hospital.
The social worker noted that she was still very much emotionally attached to my birth father
despite his having moved on and becoming engaged.
So many questions.
Such a sad past.
And that was where I was to stay…in her sad past.
A past that could have had a happier ending.
The social worker told me that because of this, she was unable to share my
questions and letter.
I half-heartedly laughed telling her it was a letter chocked full of grammatical errors and
typos as we both laughed.
I asked if she could, perhaps clean it up and send my letter to this attorney.
I even almost found myself asking for the attorney’s name before I thought better—
knowing all of this was such an anonymous process, protecting her identity.
In the state of Georgia, one’s adoptions records remain sealed under the court of law.
They may only be opened by petitioning the court and the reason better be pretty darn good.
Curiosity and the answering of questions are not good enough reasons.
And so that is why I wrote that post the other week.
Tomorrow I will post the letter I wrote to my mother.
I figure what the heck.
The social worker was having to send some sort of affidavit to the lawyer for my
mother to sign—
I suppose a paper to put in my file that states she is not to ever be contacted
and my records…may never be seen.
Despite the fact that they are also my records.
As in mine and just as much mine as hers.
I told the social worker, to again, please assure this attorney that it had not my intent
to invade into this woman’s life.
I also told her I figured this would be how it would end.
“Why is that Julie” she inquired.
“It’s just my luck Stacy”
After writing that post the other day, a dear blogger friend, Dawn Marie,
in Pennsylvania offered this comment:
I am so sorry, Julie.
But even sorriest for the woman who opened her womb to you, but not her heart.
I will pray for her.
And I would ask you to consider perhaps this “rough” ending was put in place by God
to protect you & not harm.
He revealed, through her calloused legal action, a lot about her –
perhaps sheltering you from further harm.
May you be at peace.
A warm hug sent your way to uplift you.
I’ll add a few more words tomorrow when I share my letter.
After I hung up the phone I dropped my head like a small child might do,
and sobbed into my husband’s arms.
A double rejection.
The grown me, the grown 60-year-old woman, crying like a small child whose
own mother had rejected her…again.
But as Dawn reminds me…God is in the midsts of all of this
just like he was when in 1959 when I was conceived and born…
and later in 1960 when I was eventually adopted.
When we opted to go down to the beach for a few days last week, I thought it would be
a time that I could ponder, contemplate and make sense of things…
and to natually lick my wounds.
Yet God thought differently—no time for self-pity…
He called us to race home to be with our grandson who was rushed to the hospital.
See…life, my life, does go on.
It goes on in three blood relatives…
My son and his two children.
Of whom mean the world to me.
They are mine and I am theirs.
Some reasons in life we know,
some we do not—
The best we can do is to always pick ourselves up when we fall and move one foot in
front of the other–
always moving forward…and never back.
The letter tomorrow.