My Brother the Stranger

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Updated: December 13, 2018 

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My Brother the Stranger

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Posted: 9/2/2011
Note: Names, Identifying informaiton and details may have been altered to protect personal identities.

My brother was given up for adoption because my mother wanted him to have a more privileged life than the one she could provide for him. When he was born, I was 7, and my brother was 9. We grew up in a 1 bedroom apartment in the projects, on welfare our whole lives. We moved around a lot when I was growing up. At the time, we didn't notice that it a hard life. We knew out mom did the best she could. She was an alcoholic and a drug addict, but she was a beautiful woman and she loved us. She never forgot about him, especially on his birthday; it was always a sad for her. My older brother and I have thought about him often over many years but did not want to interrupt his life. Now we feel it is finally time to find him and ask him to join our lives.

After he was born, I remember asking, "Mommy, where's the baby? I want to see the baby." She told us another family wanted a baby because they couldn't have children of their own. She reassured us they were going to take care of him.

Mom died in 1990 from Breast cancer. She never forgot about the baby she gave up; she always wanted to find him. Through a friend of a friend, she learned that the baby's adoptive parents also adopted a little girl three years later. All together there were 3 boys and 1 girl in the family. We also knew they lived in one of the wealthiest areas in California. When I started the search, I knew he might be a totally different person than who we are, but my brother and I wanted to find him to finally get answers to our questions and fill the hole in our family.

I contacted SQA a few months ago, and my researcher, Julie, was very efficient to work with! One minute I was leaving her a message to call me back with an update, and ten minutes later she called to tell me she had found Michael in less than a week. When she first called Michael, he said he knew he was adopted, and all the information he had about his birth family matched the information we had gathered. He took for a few days to absorb everything before he finally called me back, and I was literally waiting by the phone the entire time.

I've read all kinds of stories and seen reunions on TV where the people share this really emotional embrace and say "what took you so long?" In a way I am disappointed that our reunion wasn't like that. In the beginning it was really hard because he has a really great, fulfilled life. I didn't feel like he needed me. He was already happy. He was pleased that I was looking for him and found him, but he didn't have that need like I did. He was the one that was given up and didn't remember the trauma of it. My brother and I were the ones who always felt like we lost something. We're are the ones who watched our mother go into the hospital and comes home without the baby.

Today, Michael's very involved with his kids. He has a ton of acquaintances but not really any friends that he goes and hangs out with. His wife works and has a very prestigious job. She doesn't really have any girlfriends that she goes out with. Their kids are their whole lives. For me, my friends are my life. For them, their kids and each other---that's their life.

I had to wait until he was ready and not push him. We talked on the phone back in December, but he only felt comfortable to meet us in person this past April. We packed up the car and took a five-hour drive to meet this person who was our brother but also a stranger to us. Our first meeting was very calm and cool. His wife told me a couple of stories about how they met. His oldest daughter told me a couple of stories about growing up with him as a dad, and I started to see him more clearly. So it was all good. He's a great human being. That's my entire mother ever really wanted for him, to have more opportunities than she could give her own children. She would be pleased that he turned out as a good human being with an open heart.

My life has definitely changed since we started the search last year. Our relationship hasn't turned out to be the warm, friendly, "it seems like we were never separated" kind of relationship I dreamed about, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been either. I have learned an important lesson through this whole experience, though. Family is about accepting and loving people as they are, without trying to change them to turn them into the person you want them to be. I believe our relationship will continue to get stronger over time, and I'm willing to give him the space he needs and let him come to us when he's ready. It won't be easy, but he's worth it.

Written by Mica Burton on Michelle's behalf.

Client ID#265922
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