In July of 2012, at forty-two-years-old, I found my birth mom. It was an unbelievably awesome and life changing experience! The funny thing is, for most of my life, I never thought I’d ever want this to happen.
I grew up in Waco, Texas, and I always knew that I was adopted. I had great adoptive parents, grandparents and extended family. My adoptive family never hid anything from me, and I never thought much about being adopted. My parents were my only parents, and to tell you the truth— our friends never even knew that I was adopted.
I fit in with my family perfectly. I shared the same beliefs, values and personality traits. When anyone learned of my adoption, I’d hear something like, “C’mon, you know you are not adopted—you look just like your dad.” Our family got a kick from that because it was so true. I was treated well, and I felt very loved and spoiled. I’d say my childhood was as good as it gets.
In fact, my life was so good, that I think if my birth mom had called me on my eighteenth birthday, I would have freaked out. Without a doubt, I would have run from her. It wasn’t that I was angry with her for giving me up—I just hadn’t ever explored the idea of knowing her.
In 2000, I met my wife-to-be, Robin. It wasn’t until four years into our relationship that I told her I was adopted. I wasn’t keeping secrets from her; my adoption just wasn’t a big deal. She was shocked. Robin also thought I looked just like my dad, and she couldn’t understand my lack of curiosity or my lack of desire to search for my birth mom. Our conversation prompted me to research the subject of adoptee behavior and searching. I was surprised to learn how so many adopted people wished to reconnect with their birth families.
Nonetheless, my desire and interest to reconnect with my birth mom did not increase. When I reached my late thirties, however, I started to wonder if I might have a brother or a sister in the world. I didn’t go too far out of my way, though I did post the date and state of my birth on a few adoption registries to inquire if any siblings were searching for me. Nothing.
Life went on, until my wife and I started to look into what it would take to adopt a child. We had endured some heartbreaking losses and adoption seemed like a good option at the time. While we did not end up choosing to adopt, the exploratory process opened another door.
When we had attended an adoption seminar, we had heard some birth moms speak about their experiences of giving up their child. I was really moved to hear all of them say that they just wanted the best for their children and that they wanted to know that their children had turned out okay.
The words of those birth moms hit me hard. Had my birth mom worried and wondered about me for all these years? Now, I felt I had to do the right thing. If she had worried, then I felt the need to bring her peace.
Boy, did things change quickly after that. In May of 2012, I began my search. I viewed many sites and registries, but all of them led to dead ends. I requested my non-identifying adoption information from the state of Texas, which took a few weeks to receive. Wow. Just getting that and reading about my birth mom and dad was amazing.
My initial motive to search for my birth mom went from wanting to help her— to having a burning desire and need to know everything about her. The search experience was all encompassing.
Ultimately, I came across something called a “search angel.” All of these search angels were helpful and each of them gave me sound advice. After interviewing several of them, I chose to work with Marianne.
On July 1st, Marianne located my birth mom and birth dad. Even with the little information I was able to provide her, she had found my birth parents within only twenty-four hours. We discovered that they had married, and that I also had two younger full birth sisters. I was blown away.
Marianne found the addresses and phone numbers for all of my immediate birth family members. I was even able to see my sisters’ pictures on Facebook. Now what? My wife and I were too scared to call my birth family. So, Aimee, an intermediary and a friend of Marianne’s, made the call on our behalf.
I was a nervous wreck. What if, after all of this, my birth mom did not want to talk to me? On July 3rd, Aimee made the call. Five minutes later, Aimee called me…
She had spoken to my birth mom! She said that she had never talked to a birth mom who was so emotional or excited to have been “found.” My birth mom told Aimee that she would need a few minutes, and that she would call right back to get my number.
Two long days passed. My birth mom had not called back. I freaked out—why wasn’t she calling? I couldn’t take it.
Finally, I remembered that I had sent her an anonymous email through Classmates.com to ask her if either my birthday or Waco, Texas had had any meaning for her. Since she should have received it on the very same night that Aimee had called her, I checked my email for a response: “You’re the son I’ve thought of every day for the last 42 years. Please call me.”
My birth mom had been waiting on me to call her. She must’ve been a nervous wreck, too. Seconds later, on July 5th, I called my birth mom and heard her voice for the first time. She cried, laughed, and cried some more, and I could tell that she had needed and wanted this every day— since the day that I was born.
I also spoke to one of my birth sisters, who had been at my birth mom’s house at the time. On July 4th, just the day before this reuniting phone call, my birth mom finally told my sisters that they had a brother. They were stunned as I was, and yet, our conversation was so good, and so natural.
On that day, I learned my full birth story. When my birth mom had gotten pregnant with me, my birth dad’s parents insisted that I be given up for adoption because my birth parents were not married at the time of conception. My birth mom’s parents were quite religious and several of her relatives were even ministers. She felt then, that under all those circumstances, she could never tell her family that she had become pregnant with me. She believed she’d bring great shame to everyone.
At that time, my birth dad was in the Army. He had asked my birth mom to marry him while she was still pregnant. She had said “yes,” and together, they moved to the Fort Hood, Texas army station. She had me there in Waco, but like many mothers who relinquished children in that era, she never saw me on the day I was born. A year later, they moved back to Minnesota without me.
She told me that she didn’t want to give me up, but that she did what she thought was best for me at the time. No one back in Minnesota could know of my birth, but it was important to her and my birth dad that I was safe and that I would go to a good home. I believe she was being a good mom even when she couldn’t keep me. My birth parents stayed married for almost 30 years, until my birth dad died in an unfortunate accident. I never got to meet him.
On August 16th, in the same year that I had found my birth mom, I traveled to Minnesota to meet her. My reunion was something out of the ordinary—and not something I can explain well to others. It was surreal—like I had entered into a world of fantasy. Hugging my birth mom for the first time, holding her hand and just being with her was so incredible. I got to meet my sisters, too. I had always thought that I shared the exact mannerisms of my adoptive family, but when I met my birth family, I couldn’t believe how many mannerisms I also shared with them.
I now know how hard my relinquishment was for my birth mom, but today—she, my sisters and I, share a nice relationship. I talk to my sisters all the time, and I talk to my birth mom almost every day.
I’ve never held one ounce of bitterness toward my birth mom. Times were different back then and my birth parents were only kids themselves. She was twenty-one-years-old, when she had to leave her baby boy in Texas and move back to Minnesota. I can only imagine that kind of pain.
On my 43rd birthday of this past year, my birth mom returned to Texas to celebrate my birthday with me for the very first time. We appreciated many special moments then, and I know I will enjoy the ones left to come.
My adoptive family is supportive of my reunion journey to this day. Although, my parents were understandably a little uneasy with my search and reunion at first, it did not take long for them to realize that I would never abandon them and that they would always be my parents. I love all of my families very much.
To think that a few years ago, I neither wanted nor envisioned all that led to this happiness, and now it’s my new normal. I feel fortunate to know my birth family— only wish I had met them sooner.
Image credit: photo provided by author.
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