Tuesday, January 31, 2006

This blog began July 12th, 2005, but was deleted hastilly in May of 2006. I posted every day, and fortunately was able to restore (through Google/Msn/Yahoo Caching) many of the posts. However many of the images were lost, and the original comments are not viewable. 150 Posts were lost forever. As I said it was a hasty decision. I was absent from blogging for one month and resumed posting in late June of this year (2006). Thanks for checking the archives.
Friday, January 06, 2006
Where did I come from?
A search into my biological past.

I have mentioned more than once on this blog, and in comments on others that I was adopted. I was given up at birth, and subsequently placed in my parents home at age 3 months. It is something I have known since my earliest years, perhaps age 7 or 8. My mother never hid this from me, and it was only a matter of waiting until the age of understanding and then she sat me down and explained the truth in a manner befitting a child so small. If I remember correctly it went something like this... (It's been a while, there is some slight paraphrasing here)

"You did not come from my belly. You have two Mommys, one whose belly you came from and one right here with you now. (then Big Hug) We both love you very much, and I couldn't love you any more if you had come from my belly. You are twice as special because not only did your other Mommy love you enough to give you to us, your father and I chose you over all the other little boys and girls. You were our son from the moment we first held you."


(my first Christmas with Mom and Dad)

That story, which she repeated many times over the course of my childhood truly worked it's magic in my little head. I always felt special, never once doubting that I did not belong or was"different" in a negative way. I truly felt special and loved. My grandparents were just as amazing, and since I was the 1st (and only on my dad's side) grandchild, they spoiled me rotten. My Nonna would always take me aside when I visited her and slip me $5. giving a big hug and kiss and telling me that I was her first and would always be the most special of her 9 grandchildren.

(Nonno and Nonna my first bday)

(another 1st bday party at home...I had one at each g-dparents and this one)

When I was 2 1/2 my dad left us. Well he didn't leave me so much as my mom because I always was a part of his life right up until his death. I spent weekends and often a month in the summer at his Apartments in Boston or New York. He was an interior designer and for many years had a successful firm with offices in both cities. He was also gay, and this was the reason my parents divorced. Strange isn't it? No biological connection yet I turned out to be more like him than my mother could have ever imagined. Strangely about the same time my mother began telling me about my adoption, my step father slipped and spilled that my dad was gay. What was Gay?? I mean in the mind of an 8 year old in the late 1970's. So I used to brag to my friends (who were also needless to say clueless) that MY dad was GAY, as if it were something special I could be proud of. I can't imagine what my friends parents thought when they heard this.


Moving right along, just after my dad left, Mom found a boyfriend. He soon became a very important person in my life, taking on the role almost immediately of disciplining macho-dad. Looking back now I really fought him at every turn, and must have made his young life miserable (he was about 24 I think, while mom was almost 30). They married when I was 9, having lived together at that point 5 years. They are still together.


so..before this becomes a complete autobiography let's skip forward.


When I was 17 and got my license, my girlfriend (and subsequent wife) would often go to the local (and HUGE -- built by the Andrew Carnegie Trust for those of you who are familiar) library to see what I could discover about my birthmother. Massachusetts has a sealed record policy in regards to adoptions. They used to take it to several levels, even contacting churches and hospitals to ensure these institutions would note the birth/baptism with the new name and seal away the original from public inspection. I know I tried both the Hospital and the church, they refused me access.


Massachusetts however DOES provide, to an adoptee aged 18 or older, non-identifying information about his or her birthfamily. This would include ages, ethnic background and occupations of both birthparents (if father is known) as well as grandparents and siblings. The report also gives all of the details surrounding the birthparents relationship, mother's socio-economic background and the actual birth statistics. I had it in my hands within a month of my 18th birthday. The only person I told was my girlfriend, who was nearly as exited as I was. Fortunately for me the case worker who provided the report was retiring and without fear of repercussion was far more open with me than later contacts I made in her office. She told me my birth family was from the immediate area (when pressed) and she secretly slipped me a piece of paper (based upon my interest to know more) with the name of a lady who would be able to provide me with my name at birth. This lady of course charged a fee, yet that mattered little..I would get it somehow. And then I sat on all of this for nearly a year, keeping it to myself.


Many thoughts went through my head over the course of that year. As you would imagine the predominant one being how to proceed without hurting my adopted mother and family. My father had passed away when I was 15, but I was very close to his sister and parents (as their only nephew/grandson) so their feelings were also to be considered. I made the decision to sit my mom down and tell her everything. She was wonderful as you would imagine (she is my guardian angel and has always been). The fee was $130. to provide me with my name at birth. Mom asked me who to make the check out to right away. I was floored. Things really went quickly then. I contacted the woman. Within a week she called and asked me to meet her in the parking lot of a local IHOP. I was shaking the whole time driving over. I arrived, and she motioned me over to her car and I got in. Handing her the check, she pulled out a tiny piece of paper from her notebook, barely larger than a Chinese restaurant fortune. Hand printed on this paper was a name, MY birthname. I was allowed to copy the name but not keep this paper. Understandably she needed to protect herself, Massachusetts prosecutes those who serve to undermine their mission to keep adoptees from contacting their birthparents. I had it at last!!!


Remember the non-identifying info I mentioned above? Well now I had a surname to piece this family together. Even at 19 I was a near-pro genealogist, having been at it since I was a freshman in HS. The month following was a whirlwind of day trips, phone calls and library visits. In three weeks I had pieced together a perfect match to the non-identifying family. The only catch was what to do with this information. Initially (as with so many adoptees) we start with the disclaimer that this is ONLY to find out about our medical/ancestral background, never to make contact. Well I can assure you that whole mission starts to come apart at the seams once you have everything and realize your birthmother lives and works within 10 driving minutes from your home. Of course I had to consider her situation. There are things you cannot uncover about an individual from public records so easily. Things like other children, spouses, emotional state..(I found that she had been married)

(courtesy of our local Newspaper photo archives)

I had no idea whether she was still married or had a family perhaps who did not know about the adoption. Given this dilemma, direct phone contact was ruled out. She also seemed to disappear from local phone books a couple years prior. So I tried the Voters registration board (public) and they gave me her address. Once again I thought this might be risky, as perhaps her husband might open the letter. I knew where she worked as a result of a city directory, and wrote a letter addressed to her there. I included my recent Senior HS Photo and a three page summary of my life. At the very end of this letter I told her that it is not my intention to disrupt her life or family but that I wanted her to know what had become of her son, and that he was alive, healthy and had been raised with love and support his entire life by a family who probably exceeded anything she had hoped for. I posted it and waited. This was mailed on a Wednesday.
I was working weekends at that point (Fri-Sun) at a local amusement Park called Riverside (now 6-Flags New England) and arrived home Friday night at 1130pm to my mother and step father in tears.


My birthmother had called. My mom was really upset, and it hurt me to see her like this. I had never kept any of this from her, not one single step of the process, but as you would imagine nothing could prepare her for my birthmother's voice. She was happy for me still and insisted I call her right away. I called. It was awkward, I had so many questions. Evidently, upon receiving my letter, in which I had mentioned where I was attending college..she called to find my schedule for that day (Friday). Would you believe she went and waited outside the classroom? I had skipped class that day (something I rarely did), so she had missed me. Returning home she must have then placed the call to my parents house. At that point I was already at work. She invited me to her house the next morning before I went in. I still remember how strange it was to see her answer the door. I felt no immediate connection, just a rush of adrenaline that I was standing next to the woman who gave birth to me, all the years of wondering were over..there she was. Her brother took this photo just moments later.

(my birthmother and I the first meeting)

She was wonderful, and gave me the biggest hug. Out came the photo albums, and even the projector for a slide show! We only had an hour or so, but that worked out because we were both a bit exited and uncomfortable. I went to work on a rush that I cannot explain. The next day I got another phone call. Her mother and father wanted to meet me right away. I called in on Sunday and went over to their house with her. They were amazing! My bio-grandmother would not stop smiling and staring at me, hugging me maybe a dozen times. She kept telling me how they never wanted to let me go, and how she had visited me repeatedly in the nursery where I lived between birth and placement. This was myseriously left out of my report. I learned so much that day, and returned home to tell my parents everything. They had adjusted to it all and listened with incredible curiosity.


It was about two weeks later that my birthmother called again. Her mother (the sneaky little Sicilian she was) had searched out my birthfather, who was still in contact with one of her older sons. He wanted to meet me, and well...who was I to refuse! This meeting, as with my birthmother was just as thrilling, and within a few days he took me to his own mothers home where I met an Aunt, two cousins and my paternal bio grandmother. Everyone treated me as if I had not been adopted, but rather away for a while. It was like I had an instant family, somewhat unsettling at first..but soon I was feeling just as comfortable. I was to call her Nana, and she would get so angry if I used her first name. Honestly I was never really comfortable with her wishes, so to avoid hurting her feelings I would avoid calling her anything. After all I had two grandmothers already, and felt somehow calling her Nana betrayed them.
Now for the most amazing ending!!! When my bio-grandmother found my birthfather, he was about to be married (in 3 months time). Once reunited with my birth-mother he broke this engagement off. They began dating again after nearly 18 years. He had married after their initial breakup and I have 3 half siblings, two brothers and a sister. My bio-parents dated for about 6 months, moved in together and became engaged. They married a month later in a simple ceremony with a Justice of the Peace. Can you imagine? You couldn't invent a better ending.


All three of my bio-grandparents passed away before I reached my 25th birthday. This is why I am terribly thankful I did all of this at such a young age. While there is much more to this story, I will end here for now. More to come later. Things got a bit tricky once I married and started having children.

Laters :)

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