My incredible parents adopted me in East Tennessee, when I was just two days old. They named me Taylor Rebekka Perry— though they told my birth parents my name was Rebekka in order to protect my identity until I might wish to find them on my own. That wish became a strong desire shortly before my 18th birthday.
My parents gave me their full support, and they understood my reasons for wanting to search. I had always been curious about my family history, where I had come from, and most importantly, why my birth parents had put me up for adoption—which I believe most adoptees can easily relate to.
My uncle (my mom’s brother) had been the attorney who handled my adoption, so I was able to obtain my birth parent’s contact information quickly.
A fresh blanket of snow laid across the ground on the December morning of my long anticipated reunion day.
My boyfriend at the time, accompanied me in an attempt to calm my nerves, but that did little good. My heart raced a mile a minute. I worried if I looked okay, if my hair was okay, and was my breath fresh enough? So many silly thoughts sped through my mind.
We arrived on time to the arranged meeting place: A Cracker Barrel that marked the halfway point between my hometown and my birth parent’s home. I called my uncle. He was already inside the restaurant with my birth parents, letting them know that I was in the parking lot. My uncle came out to greet my boyfriend and me, and he gave me a few moments to catch my breath.
This was it. My boyfriend handed me a Kleenex so that I could wipe the sweat off my hands. I felt out of control, my legs shook, and my voice was small and hoarse.
My uncle took me by the arm and escorted me inside. We slowly walked to a table in the back of the restaurant where my birth parents were already seated.
As we approached them, they immediately stood with their arms stretched out, ready to embrace me. My birth mother hugged me first. I could not believe I was finally in the arms of the woman who had given birth to me.
She was nothing like I pictured her—her hair was much darker than mine, and her body was larger as well. My birth father hugged me next. He towered over me, and with the exception of our matching dark brown eyes, we shared little resemblance.
My uncle quietly slipped away.
My birth parents talked most of the time, filling me in on the past twenty-plus years. I learned that I had a full-blooded sister. A little sister—a full sister—I was shocked!
When they showed me her picture, it was as though I was looking at a younger version of myself. We look almost identical.
Sadly, I also discovered that my younger sister was never told of my existence—I was the “secret daughter”.
After I was born, my parents had stopped seeing each other, and my birth mother believed she had no means to care for me. Eventually, they got back together and married several years later. I was thrilled they had had another child. Even though my boyfriend and my parents did not understand, I was neither angered nor hurt that I was the secret daughter. I felt for my birth parents and I understood their situation at the time.
Still, building a relationship with my birth parents and little sister was a rocky one from the very start, especially with my birth mother. She attempted to control me— always wanting to know where I was, whom I was with, and why it was that I would not answer her calls and texts immediately.
She talked to me about things no mother would ever talk to their daughter about, things like her love life and her dramatic one-night stands. It was disturbing to hear these kinds of things, and unsettling that so many of our conversations had become one-sided.
At one point, I had become so overwhelmed, that my mother stepped in and took over. She told my birth mother that she needed to give me more breathing room.
Two-and-half-years into our relationship, and on the eve of my 21st birthday, my birth mother called to tell me that she and my birth father had separated and would eventually divorce.
After they finalized their divorce, I experienced even more of my birth mother’s deceit and lies. She had falsely claimed both cancer and pregnancy, and she had stolen money from my sister. She told my sister that she regretted knowing me and tried to turn her against me. My birth mother proved to burn me time and time again.
Naturally, I started to distance myself from her, and in January of this year, I finally sent her an email that outlined my true feelings. I never heard back from her.
For almost four years, I allowed myself to be sucked into an unhealthy relationship with her. It took much soul-searching, but I finally realized that having this woman in my life was bringing me down and keeping me from growing in an emotionally positive way. My birth mother has hurt others so much more than she has ever helped anyone.
I never imagined my reunion would end up like this. It brings on tears of deep pain.
Maybe I was too immature when I made the decision to reunite with my birth family, or maybe I set my expectations too high. Either way, I fell for the fantasy—a fantasy that I had come from a wonderful woman who had given me life, was perfect, beautiful, smart, strong and independent. The tarnished reality and finding out that she was not who I had hoped her to be, has broken my heart.
My birth parents have been divorced for over a year now. My birth father is grappling with many of the same things I am, and he and I are working on building a strong and healthy relationship.
My younger sister and I have fallen on patchy times. It’s hard to know what lies she was told, and she is too young for me to sort that out for her. She will have to make her own decisions in time about me and about our mother.
My birth father tries to point my sister’s thoughts in the right direction and only time will tell where all this will lead.
I am flooded with regret and sorrow for no longer having the woman I had fantasized about for 18 years in my life. Sometimes I think my life would’ve been easier if I had made the choice to leave well enough alone, but when I dig deeper, I am glad that I searched.
I’m glad I know where I came from. I’m glad I know my history, I’m glad to have a beautiful little sister, and I’m glad to have a relationship with my birth father.
I’ve also learned that I’m a much stronger person than I ever thought I could be. I hope and pray that down the road my relationship with my birth mother will mend, but I have come to terms with the knowledge that it may not, and I am okay with that. My sister is still young, and I feel that with time and work, our bond as sisters will grow stronger.
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