Burdens Lifted

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Updated: August 21, 2018 

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Burdens Lifted

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Posted: 11/19/2011
Note: Names, Identifying informaiton and details may have been altered to protect personal identities.

My adoptive mother, Clara, turned a blind eye and pretended not to know her husband, Samuel, was having an affair. That is, until he showed up one afternoon with an infant swaddled in a pink blanket and informed her she would be raising the baby as her own. When she protested, he told her she could choose to keep the baby and never discuss the issue again, or he would take the infant away and have it killed. Even though she knew the baby was the product of her husband's affair, she could not refuse when faced with this horrifying ultimatum. I was only three weeks old.

Clara never told me about the circumstances behind my birth, but growing up I knew there was something different about me. In the privacy of our home she was always cold to me and I desperately sought to understand why. As a young child I convinced myself it was my fault and set out on a quest to be more perfect, hoping against hope that I would earn her love.

Clara and Samuel separated when I was 9 or 10, but I did not learn about my true heritage until I was 18 years old. I wanted to go to Hawaii and my mom couldn't give me a birth certificate to apply for a passport. This was 1975. She didn't know what to do, so she family meeting and told us the story of how I became a part of the family. She romanticized it of course, but I was old enough to know that my father had been unfaithful over the years. It wasn't hard to put two and two together to realize I was a product of one of his affairs. You can't imagine the pain I felt when I finally understood why I was always treated differently than my siblings. In that moment I understood that no matter how much I tried to be perfect, I would never be able to compensate for the cruelties my mother endured, and to her I was a symbol of my father's infidelity and a living, breathing reminder of her own inadequacies.

I didn't know she had a copy of my original birth certificate until after she died in 1982. In 1983, my dad died also and I went through my mom's papers and found the certificate, along with a note from my biological father and a formula book from the hospital. It took years before I realized he must have loved me a little or at least enough to seek out a home for me. And my mom certainly did the best she could, considering the circumstances.

No matter how much I try to put this heartache behind me, I can't seem to move on. I am a grown woman, even a grandmother myself. But I can't seem to muster any sense of self-worth until I understand why my own mother gave me away without even bothering with the paperwork of a legitimate adoption. I have decided that the only way I will be able to move on once and for all and stop punishing myself for my father's sins is if I find my birth mother and learn the other side of the story.

I am not sure I will be welcomed into the family. At the very least I'd like to know my medical history for the sake of my children. Whatever happens, I know my life was not in vain. I'm here for a reason and I give God all the glory because when man failed me, He kept me through it all.

Here is what I have been told about the circumstances of my birth. My birth mother's name was Mary Blake. She had to have a hysterectomy from complications of my birth, so I am assuming she did not have other biological children. Mary met my father through a mutual friend. She came to him at work when I was three weeks old and essentially dumped me on his lap. My uncle worked with him and witnessed the scene that took place. My father refused to take me, screaming at Mary and shoving the baby carrier back into her arms as I screamed between them. He shouted that his mother was too old to care for me, and what was he supposed to do? Take me home to his wife?

I believe she may have been married at the time. She was twenty-four; he was forty-one. She had three other children at the time. I also know she was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He was born in Trinidad. The hospital I was born in was called the Italian Hospital in New York; I believe it was in the Bronx or Manhattan. At the end of the day, I just need to know who I really am. Why wasn't I wanted? How could my birth mother give me away? Did her husband find out about the affair and force her to give me up?

When I first contacted SQA and initiated my search, I kept it a secret. Although my husband and children know the basic facts of my birth and upbringing, I didn't want to burden them with the deep pain I have been harboring all these years. I didn't want anyone to talk me out of it or tell me I was crazy. When my researcher Julie Jones called one Sunday evening, I was sitting down to dinner with my husband, and my daughter and grandson who were visiting for the day. When I saw that it was Julie calling, I stepped away from the table for privacy. She said, "Denise, I found your birth mother, Mary. She's alive and lives in the Bronx. You also have a brother Kevin and a sister Leeza. They want to talk to you. Can you write this down?"

When I put my hand over my mouth and started sobbing, everything went dead silent in the room and everyone thought something terrible had happened. They stared at me blankly as I babbled "she found my Mother! I have to call her!" They knew my adoptive mother had been dead for years. When the whole story came out they were very supportive. My husband held my hand when I called my mother for the first time.

I'm still taking it all in!! My eldest daughter and son traveled with me to meet my mother at her home. We talked, looked at pictures and it was nice. I have talked with my sister in Texas and though we've never met we have a lot in common. The conversation flowed so smoothly. It was great to find out they knew about me all along and tried to find me several times under my birth name. We are talking about getting together for a Thanksgiving gathering.

It's hard to put my feelings into words but I can say this: I feel like a new woman. A huge burden has been lifted from my shoulders and I am finally able to put the past behind me and just be grateful for the wonderful life I have been given and the people in it who love me and support me no matter what. I am so glad I mustered the nerve to search for my birth mother and that I found the courage to let go of the past and step into a whole new future. I'm embracing it!

Written by Mica Burton on Search Quest America Client Denise's behalf.
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