Sunday, March 12, 2006
[Preface: My search began with a quest for my father, but it was a relentless dead end, based on a file full of lies about him, nearly resulting in me contacting the very real person his “profile” was modeled after in my records. I’ve purposely left that part of my search out of the following tome, mostly for pragmatic reasons.

Despite diligent editing, this is a long post, so my apologies for being verbose. I’ve divided it into sections and will soon post a complimentary reunion piece.]

I have only told my search and reunion story in contextual, fragmented bits and pieces on message boards and to the curious friend or stranger. Perhaps it’s never made its way to paper because it is accompanied by emotions impossible to capture; nuances of obligation, guilt, excitement and hope. Maybe it’s because after all these years, the strength in which the journey grabbed and held me seems silly in the way only hindsight can illuminate something, or because I grieve the hope I carried then, sometimes finding it preferable to the reality into which it all has settled.

The birth of my son washed away the defenses programming me against search. Those defenses; some built by me and some by my adoptive mother, always offered answers to “Don’t you want to find your real parents?” They were planted so long ago, and at a time I was so vulnerable and readily willing to exchange my needs for any sense of security I could latch onto, my answer was always ambivalent, at best.

But my natural parents became real the moment labor pain subsided and I held my son in my arms. My need for answers; to connect with myself, my people and the circle of life that pushed my son into the world, finally emerged from the dark, private place where I kept them secluded and protected.

For me, the decision to search was a war between terror and desire. On the threshold of such a journey, I stood to lose everything; my very identity, shabbily constructed as it was. My volatile relationship with my adoptive mother was functioning for the first time years, though it was only pasted together by my fear of being entirely alone in the world. The truth – my truth, my story – threatened to dismantle the foundation upon which I’d built my sense of self. I knew I’d constructed a house of cards, adorned in fantasy and hyperbole. And, I knew the truth would send them tumbling down.

Sheer will might begin a search, but indignation propels it forward. In one conversation with the clerk playing gatekeeper with your sealed records, you are reduced from being the adult who finally emerged from her childlike dependence on her adoptive family, grabbed hold of her desires and set a course for her future, to an infant again. For the first time, it hits full force that society views you as a perpetual child, incapable of making her own decisions about the adult relationships she’d like to pursue; because you are adopted and because society views adoption as a fairy tale of saviors and waifs.

Worse, you discover this soul-journey; this thing of courage you thought you’d never muster; is viewed as an act of selfish rebellion reeking of ingratitude and dripping in insensitivity. You are lectured and questioned. You are dismissed.

Back then; search began in a phone book. It involved phone calls, letter writing, networking and long waits by the mailbox for packages carrying the potential to deliver a clue capable of unraveling a lifetime mystery. I am grateful the clue that cracked my case wasn’t delivered over high speed DSL. Once your clue arrives, you are swept up in an unstoppable current.

I poured over my package: six pages of twenty-two year old court records with names scribbled over in sharpie marker, in my “own best interest,” of course. I learned for the first time I had siblings – three, at least. It never occurred to me I wasn’t a firstborn. I stared at the details, the story of my coming to being and having my life inexplicably changed in the same moment. I tried the information on like pieces of new clothing: Daughter, little sister, Ukrainian.

When the shock of new awareness began to ebb, tiny clues within the paperwork began to come into focus. Either by oversight or compassion, someone left enough fragmented information in my “non-identifying” records to form a clue. The missing piece, on it’s own insignificant, looked like this:
Ten minutes elapsed from the time I entered the courthouse research room to when I returned to my car with the copy of a divorce decree providing me the name and birthdates of my mother and three siblings. I stopped at the closest phone, dialed information and spoke my mother’s name out loud for the first time. Her number was unlisted, but the numbers of my brothers were not.

I did not pick up the phone and dial. I needed to think; to plan; to breathe for a while. I carried the numbers around with me for at least two weeks before making a move.

[to be continued . . . ]
Rhonda Ruminated at 12:13 AM | Permalink |

4 Ruminations:

  • At 5:17 AM, Anonymous St Jude

    So beautifully written. Your thoughts and feelings so tangible.

  • At 10:40 AM, Anonymous Rhonda

    Jude (or should I call you Saint?): Thank you, for dropping by and for the compliment. It's high praise considering the source, as I've been enjoying your fabulous writing too.

  • At 12:41 PM, Anonymous Kim Ayres

    This is very moving, Rhonda, and I look forward to future postings.

  • At 1:41 PM, Anonymous Rhonda

    Thank you so much, Kim. I've been lurking in your neck of the woods and enjoying what I'm reading there, too.