The Courage to Keep Hoping

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The Courage to Keep Hoping

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Posted: 3/6/2010
Note: Names, Identifying informaiton and details may have been altered to protect personal identities.

My birth mother was a nun-age, mid 30s woman living in Dallas and working in hospital administration when I was born. She had gone to school in the Midwest to get her master's degree, though she was born in Dublin, Ireland. She had 3 brothers and 2 sisters growing up. Her name was Philomena and she gave me up for adoption for unknown reasons.

My parents did not keep my adoption a secret. When I was five years old my dad wrote away and received my un-redacted Texas birth certificate, which listed her name. He wrote to the lawyer who handled the adoption for more information, and he confirmed her name and gave some background about her situation. I found that piece of paper as a teenager and the memory is burned into my mind. I was blown away by the coincidence--without knowing my birth mother's name was Philomena, my parents named me Philip, and both of us go by "Phil" as a nickname. Since that day I have felt a connection with my birth mother, though I imagined that we lived a world apart.

My case was assigned to Julie Jones, who was a real asset through the whole search. After only about 7 days, she had located my birth family, still living in Texas. She found my birth mother's full name and the first hit from the internet search was an announcement about my grandparents. My grandfather was on the parish council in the Knights of Columbus, and my grandmother taught Sunday school weekly. It was clear that my birth mother came from a very devout family, and she herself graduated from the Order of Incarnate Word. With this background I worried that with the emotions involved with unwed pregnancy, my birth mother may not be favorable to a reunion. But we pressed on.

The next day, Julie called to tell me she had found current contact information for my birth mother and asked if I wanted to make the contact myself. I preferred that she make the phone call on my behalf, and wrote her an email with information to include or not include depending on how it went. I supposed she had good guy instincts and based on experience would say or withhold whatever she felt was appropriate. I could not help but miss the irony that her husbands name is Leo (just like my cat) and we were calling her on the day before her birthday.

I told her the basics--I'm happy and healthy. I bear no ill-will or resentment for her decision to place me. I understand why she did it, at least I think I do. I'm a college grad (degree in Writing with a concentration in Poetry), and although I'm sort of off the career-path at the moment (spent a decade in marketing as a graphic artist), I'm skilled and intelligent. I'm an artist and illustrator. I sang in rock bands for 17 years. I've always been outgoing and talented artistically. I'm bald, which was a BIG surprise when I turned 26! I am very fair-skinned and freckled, blue eyed, and used to be a redhead. I didn't know what sort of things to say, but these seemed logical.

Julie left a voicemail that on her cell phone that evening and we both waited anxiously for a response. It was January 6th of this year. Then on January 7th she called again and left another voicemail. When she still did not respond to the message regarding Dallas and 1972, I got a sinking feeling in my gut that told me she wasn't going to be calling. Julie reassured me that some birth mothers just need more time than others, and that I should be patient. She encouraged me to reach out with a letter, which I did. What do you write when you know the letter may be your only chance to reach out to the woman who gave birth to you? I wrote the basics of who I am as a person, what I look like, and how I feel about her. I included a photo and asked her to consider writing me back, but told her I would understand if she didn't. I mailed the letter off and tried not to expect anything in return.

January passed, then February. Finally, just yesterday, Julie called to tell me that Philomena called her out of the blue asking for my contact information! She received my letter and pondered over it for several weeks.
She shared the story with her family for the first time and was ready to write back to me and begin corresponding gradually.

I am overjoyed that we will be able to be reunited, albeit slowly and on her terms. It is everything I hoped for and I just want to thank SQA and Julie for giving me the tools to solve this mystery and the courage to keep hoping when it didn't seem that it would turn out well. I greatly appreciate all of your hard work and wish you the best of luck in the future.

(Written by Mica Burton on Philip's behalf.)

Client ID# 264695
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