After arriving home from my weekend of meeting my siblings and my birth father, I began the final part of my search. Thanks to the information provided by my birth father, I now had my birth mothers last name.
But it was like looking for a needle in a very, very large haystack…..seeming impossible to find….yet knowing it was there, somewhere, kept me pushing forward.
Over the next few weeks I received calls from my birth father and during those calls, he gave me little bits of information that I would then relay to my hired searcher, Julie….each little fragment of information built upon the last, until, finally, on August 19, 2011 my searcher and I realized we might have found someone.
After hanging up the phone with Julie, my searcher, I waited……would this be it? Could it finally be over? Those years and years of searching and wondering, was this the culmination of all of that hard work??
I waited….and I waited…..and then the phone rang. The caller ID told me it was Julie…..Please, Lord, let this be the end of my search.
I answered the phone and then Julie said yes, this was my birth mothers brother and he and the rest of the family had been searching for us……
I cannot put into written words just what those words she said meant to me.
They had been searching for my sister and I.
They had not forgotten us.
We were wanted.
We were loved.
At that moment, I felt this immense, heavy weight lift from deep within my soul, freeing me from the pain of that very young girl.
And then Julie said the words I had dreaded…..my birth mother had died in 2007, just 4 years before I would find her. My heart sank. I would never get to meet her….I would never get to hear her voice or hug her……I would never get to tell her that I understood and loved her.
In the next few minutes on the phone, Julie gave me the details of my birth mothers death and birth and who she had married. And then she gave me the name and phone number of the uncle she had found. He was waiting for my phone call.
I hung up the phone and I spent a few minutes just breathing…….
And then I dialed the phone….one ring and my oldest uncle answered the phone….he called me by my birth name, Teresa. Through the many miles over that phone line, I could hear and feel the emotion, the relief and the love. He told me about my mother. And he said she NEVER stopped loving me, wanting me or searching for me.
My uncle told me that I had a really, really big family…..my mother was 1 of 8 children. And he said one of my aunts and another uncle had also been looking for me and my sister. We hung up with promises of calling again and of finding a time, soon, to meet in person.
I called my sister to give her the information and we cried at the relief. My sister was the only person in the world who truly understood all that was going through my mind and my heart because she too, had those same feeling, needs and desires.
Within minutes of hanging up the phone from my sister, my phone rang again, this time it was my youngest uncle, the one who babysat me as a young child. I could feel the love through the phone and my desire to meet these family members grew stronger by the minute. And then a phone call to my aunt. She told me about my mother. They were very close and she had more insight into why my mother had given us up for adoption. And my aunt said that right before my birth mothers death, she had said that she thought she had finally found me on the internet……but she died before she could reach out to me and before giving her siblings the information of how to find me. I was getting answers from her siblings and my heart was bursting.
My birth mother had loved me and had searched for me! I couldn’t believe it! Truly an answer to my prayers and the start of the healing the little girl in me so desperately needed. Until that moment, the little girl who had been separated from her momma, did not know she had been wanted. That little girl thought that she must have been a terrible person for her own mother to not want her, she had to have been bad and unlovable. It took a lifetime of searching for her to finally feel loved and to know that she had not done anything wrong…..those phone calls meant more to me than any words I could now use.
It only took a short time to decide to make my way to Washington to meet this new found family. I left Louisiana on August 26, 2011, headed to Washington state and a meeting that was 43 years overdue. After spending a couple of days visiting with my dad and step-mom and seeing my youngest sister again, it was time to pick up my sister and go meet our aunt and uncles.
On August 29, 2011….43 years and 10 months after we were dropped off at Social Services, never to see our mother again, it was finally time to reunite with our birth mothers siblings. I picked up my sister and we drove to the restaurant up the road from her house, both of us more nervous that we wanted to admit. We walked into the mall where we were to meet them and eat together and there they were….2 of my uncles with their wives and my aunt…..immediately hugging us. They knew us. And we knew them. And yes, I cried. Tears of relief, tears of happiness and tears of forgiveness. I finally found that last missing piece of my puzzle.
We talked and talked for a few hours. It was amazing to get to know these wonderful, funny, kind-hearted people…..my family. I felt comforted and safe. And I immediately felt loved. They shared stories about my birth mother and about their lives. And they told my sister and I about what we were like as babies. Finally, the first chapter took shape and made the rest of my life’s story make more sense.
Our aunt had brought pictures for us of our mother. And pictures of us taken months before our adoption. I had never seen these pictures…..and seeing them was overwhelming. And seeing the pictures of my birth mother…..I look like her. I LOOK like my birth mother. I have her curly hair, and her brown eyes. I had never looked like anyone, and there staring at me was myself. My uncles said I sound like her when I talk, that I laugh like her and stand and walk like she did. I finally felt like I belonged. I was complete.
We also learned during the conversations that our birth mother had had another child….we had another brother, younger than us. That story is for another day.
After we finished eating and visiting, we went with my aunt to make copies of the pictures she had brought and then said see you later…..never again will I say good-bye to them.
I left my sister at her home and headed to the hotel near the airport in preparation for my early flight the next morning. And then I digested all of the information, the emotions and the photos. I did not sleep that night, trying to absorb it all and trying to make sense of everything I had learned that day and the 4 months prior.
I had spent more than 30 years searching for the missing puzzle pieces of my life and now that search was over…..what will I do now?
The search was over, and now to put the puzzle together without forcing the pieces, instead, gently putting them in the spots they needed to fill, taking the time to carefully place them.
And I needed time to just breathe…..
Finding the pieces to my puzzle has been amazing. I have a family that has expanded beyond anything I had imagined…..and I have spent the past five years building relationships, getting answers and healing. The rest of the story will be coming soon, the story of how I fit the puzzle together and the unexpected outcome from these reunions. I hope that by sharing my story of searching and finding those pieces that I can give hope to someone else out there who may be searching for a way to put their own puzzle together.