Life and Death and the Adoptee

Dear Darlings,

Most of you know the story of my adoption. I’ve written about many aspects of my story, but today’s part of the narrative is one I wasn’t expecting.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t go on FB Messenger very often, even when I have a notification. For some reason, though, this morning I clicked on the icon taking me to Messenger and read an email from my biological half-sister.

But first, let me digress and fill you in on a little of the back story, in case you have forgotten.

I found my biological mother the year I turned 35. It seemed like a good time to look for her…a semi-milestone birthday. I had the help of a friend whose hobby was to reunite adoptees and their birth parents. My friend knew the ins and outs of getting birth records released and mine were mailed to me a few weeks after the petition was sent. For the first time in my life, I learned the name of the woman who gave me life but couldn’t raise me. Her name…Denise. The same name as the woman who raised me. Two Denises. Crazy. A few more weeks later, and more records came my way. They revealed my biological maternal grandparents’ names. Benjamin and Claire. Two Claires. My daughter and biological grandmother. To make things even crazier…my Claire is Claire Denise, carrying the name of both of her grandmothers and her biological great grandmother.

More weeks went by, and my friend asked if I was going to call the Denise who gave me up. I knew that wasn’t the best route for me, so I began my correspondence with her through old-fashioned letters, one after the other, each responded to as soon as a new one was received. Those letters are stored away safely. Months went by and we switched to email. I’m sure those letters are buried in some server somewhere, maybe someday I’ll look for them. After a few more weeks, we moved to calls and discussed meeting in person. Denise and I made a weekend of it. We each traveled to Atlanta and spent time getting to know one another. I haven’t thought much about that weekend in quite some time, but looking back it’s a treasured memory.

After our meeting, Denise and I continued with emails and phone calls. She put one baby toe in the lives of our kiddos on Christmas 2005 by sending the kids little presents and cute little stockings. She also sent me a stocking I admired during our trip to Atlanta. I still have all of the stockings. As time moved on, though, our correspondences became fewer and farther between, and then my emails stopped being returned. Months later she reached out, but by that time I let go. I had to. Abandonment issues still rear their ugly head from time to time and this was one of those times.

Back to the present and my bio-sister’s message. To say I was stunned by seeing her name attached to an email to me is an understatement. And then I went on to read what she had to say…

She apologized for getting in touch with me through messenger, but she couldn’t find my name or address anywhere. She said she saw my Claire’s name on Ancestry.com, which led her to the spelling of our last name and ultimately to me. She went on to let me know that Denise had passed away in August of 2019. She had been looking for me to tell me but didn’t know how to find me. She asked if I would be open to getting to know one another and again apologized for not letting me know sooner.

I responded to her email. In hindsight, I probably should have waited, because I’m not sure how I feel, or even how I’m supposed to feel. I should have taken more time to process. I’ve been processing since this morning. I thought writing about it would help even more.

Thanks for listening.

xo,

me

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