Abandoned?

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Abandoned?

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Posted: 8/16/2011
Note: Names, Identifying informaiton and details may have been altered to protect personal identities.

I am trapped in the nightmare of my childhood. It is a dark cycle of abuse, lies, and deception. We were living in Sioux City, Iowa, and I was five years old in July of 1985. My mother's sister was having a baby, so my mother packed a bag, kissed us goodbye, and promised to be back in a few days. She never imagined we would be gone when she got back.

My mother, an American named Terry Lynn, fell in love with my dad, who had recently emigrated from Mexico. They were married in the late seventies. However, cultural differences, financial stress, and my father's questionable acquaintances caused problems in their marriage. My father always felt he was above the law, and his cultural and family background led him to believe his word was law in our home. Being an American woman, my mother was too outspoken and independent for his tastes. They frequently argued; my mother turned to her family in Nebraska for support, and occasionally for refuge.

But that July while my mother was away, my father finally set in motion a plan he hatched months prior. He plotted with family members in Mexico for them to raise the four of us kids for a few years, maybe indefinitely. He packed our bags, loaded us in the car, and told us we were going on vacation to Disney Land in California. Instead, he drove us all the way to Mexico and dropped us off with our Tia (aunt), Isabel. After we crossed the Mexican border, he told us the "truth" that our Mother had left us for good this time. He said she didn't want us anymore, and she was going to go get herself an American family. We cried for hours crammed in the back of that dusty Nissan, and he made sure we really believed we had been "abandonados (abandoned)."

He only stayed in Mexico for long enough to eat a meal, and get a few hours of sleep. Then he turned around and went back to Sioux City, Iowa. I have imagined a hundred scenarios for what probably happened when he went home without us. I imagine my mother was horrified, furious, devastated, or scared. My father didn't return for years. Because I was so young, I hardly remembered him, but quickly adjusted to my new life in Mexico. My only male role models were my uncles. When I was a teenager, I learned that my father had been sent to prison in the United States for kidnapping. I do not know how long he served exactly, but throughout his imprisonment, he never revealed our whereabouts. My mother, being American, lacked the language skills to come after us, and she had never met my father's family, so she wouldn't have known where to look anyway.

My siblings and I really believed we had been abandoned for several years. Then, when my older brother had a huge argument with our father when we were teenagers, the truth came out and my paradigm shifted so that I understood my mother was a victim just like the rest of us.

Now, as an adult, I have a wife and 3 beautiful children of my own. I would like for their grandmother to be in their lives since she lost the opportunity to be in mine. My life would literally be over if they were taken away from me, and I would never stop looking for them. Every day, I pray for a miracle. I pray I will talk to the right relative and get the missing puzzle piece. I have run all the scenarios over in my mind, and I have struggled to accept things I cannot change. Yet, I'm tired of feeling like I wake up to a brick wall every day. I want to just get answers once and for all so I can move on and focus on living the life of an adult, instead of being stuck in the nightmare of my childhood.

I don't have very much information. I've tried asking our family members and our father for information, but they are a united front and refuse to help us. I have my birth certificate with her full name. I know she would be about 51 years old, and she was also born in Nebraska and lived in Iowa. She was married to my dad in the early 70s, and divorced in 1985 or 1986, most likely in Sioux City.

With this information, my researcher Julie and I made progress. Julie discovered that she was born on September 24, 1958. She also found her maiden name, social security number, and a previous address in Omaha, Nebraska. Next, she found an obituary for my aunt Rocha, which gave the names of other living relatives. Current contact information for my mom wasn't available, so Julie got on Facebook and contacted another relative, asking for my mom's current phone number.

Luckily, Angela emailed back right away asking for proof of my identity. Julie emailed her a copy of my birth certificate, an overview of what I remember from 1985, and a picture of me. She also sent the message to my mom's sister, Lisa and her husband, Aaron.

My aunt Lisa emailed Julie back the same day with my mother's current phone number. Julie reached mom's boyfriend first, but he was really excited and promised to have her call back as soon as possible.

That afternoon, my mom called Julie back. She was overjoyed to hear from me, and said she has waited for this day since the day we were taken. In fact, she has kept the name Contreras all these years so we would be able to find her more easily. Julie sent her my contact information and our family pictures, so that when she called me later that night, all she could do was cry softly while I told her about her grandchildren and what she has missed during the last 18 years. We made plans to meet in person for the first time next month, and we have been in constant contact ever since.

I still have mixed emotions. I love my family members on my father's side and I feel loyal to them because I share their name, and they raised us with love and laughter. Yet, I feel that if they had asked more questions, or put in a greater effort, they could have ended this search a long time ago. I have to ask myself what my father may have told them to convince them it was in our best interests to stay hidden.

Either way, I am so happy to finally have my mom in my life again. SQA has not only fulfilled my dreams, but also those of my 3 siblings, and my children. I hope your company is successful so that you will be able to reunite many more families in the future and bless their lives as you have blessed mine.

Sincerely,
Joseph Contreras
(Client ID# 264261)
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