Welcome to 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days, hosted by Portrait of an Adoption. This series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying adoption experiences and perspectives.
By Michelle Adams
My name is Michelle and I was adopted as an infant. My biological mother, Nancy, was a freshman in college in 1971 when she had me. I was adopted through a priest that was a friend of my family that somehow knew of Nancy, I’m not clear on how.
My mom and dad, Lenore and Edward, were told there was a baby girl coming. Two days later, I was brought to them. I have always known I was adopted; it was never kept from me. I have a brother that was also adopted but from a different biological family and he has known he was adopted as well.
An uncle of mine helped to arrange my adoption. That particular uncle and my aunt were my godparents, their daughter has been my best friend my entire life. It could not have been a better placement. I am very happy with my family. My mom and I are amazingly close, we travel a lot together, we get along really well and we genuinely like each other.
About eight years ago, the uncle who helped with my adoption was in the final stages of his life, and I just felt it was time to look deeper into who my biological parents were. Shortly before my uncle passed, I had a moment with him privately when I thanked him for helping me find my perfect family.
As a child and a teen, I had never asked a lot of questions about my biological mother for a few reasons. I never wanted to hurt my parents’ feelings by asking. I didn’t want them to feel like I wasn’t happy or grateful to them for adopting me. I was partially scared to hear any unpleasant truths about my biological parents; I would rather have a fairytale dancing in my head.
So, I began the search with very limited knowledge. I quickly located the best possible match for my biological mother — a woman named Nancy — and I sent her a letter. I wanted nothing other than medical information. It wasn’t long before Nancy emailed me. She had gotten the letter and was completely shocked I had found her.
Nancy spent a short period of time locating my biological father, Mike, and she gave me his contact information. I was thrilled that Nancy had gotten in touch with Mike and will always be grateful for that. Aside from that, I resent Nancy. She has never told her husband or her son about me. She told me she never wanted me to contact her again. I feel that she is living a lie.
I also understand that is her choice and her issue, but in a very judgmental way, I feel her marriage has a huge underlying issue if she hasn’t told him she had a baby forty-seven years ago. I can get carried away with these feelings and then I stop to think, it’s really her loss.
I’m a good person. I live a good life, I was raised to be a decent human being, I’m active in dog rescue so I’m doing some good in the world. I have an amazing support system in my life and it’s just sad that she doesn’t want to be a part of it. Her loss.
Mike, however, couldn’t wait to get to know me. He never even knew Nancy was pregnant and clearly received the shock of a lifetime when, forty-two years later, he was told he had a daughter. We created a quick bond through emails and Facebook and I also became friends with his wife Patty. I loved hearing from Mike.
I was nervous to tell my mom and dad that I had found Nancy and Mike. Even in my forties with the wonderful relationship I’ve always had with them, I never wanted them to feel that they weren’t enough. Searching for Nancy and Mike was just about finding the final pieces to my puzzle of who I am.
My parents both took the news better than I ever expected. To show exactly how similar my mom and I are, the first thing she said was, “What do they look like?” That is TOTALLY me. I wanted to know what they looked like, who I looked like. To answer that, I’m a complete combination of both of them.
When I told my dad, he just smiled and said that it was wonderful that I found them and then he wanted to know about them. It could not have gone any better than it did. It was a huge weight off my shoulders.
Mike passed away four years ago from colon cancer that went undiagnosed for too long. Mike and I sadly never met face to face, but we liked getting to know each other in the short time we had. I regret never meeting in person, but a year later, when my dad was dying, I learned to never live with regrets again.
My father passed away three years ago. Between my dad and Mike, both of these men were so special to me, whether I had them for forty-four years or just a couple years, they were amazing, sweet and wonderful to me.
When my father was dying, I did whatever my heart told me to do and I don’t have a single regret from that time. So, there was a lesson learned in that and I’ve been able to share that with two very good friends who have lost parents–live with no regrets, do whatever it is you need to with that person while they are around.
My parents had lived in their home for 50 years. I wanted my mom to be in a retirement community as she is very active and very social. We spent a year going through everything in her house and getting her ready to sell, downsize and move. It was a long, hard year going through a lot of memories and doing a lot of work, but she has been settled into her new lifestyle for over a year and both of us could not be happier. She is so busy that most times she can’t even talk to me; she is off to another event.
My mom and I have been close our whole lives. We have traveled a lot together. We love getting away for a few days. Most recently, we followed our love for Chihuly and headed to Seattle to see his exhibit there. Neither of us had been to Seattle before and wanted to make the most of it.
As a side note, my mom has been on oxygen for the last number of years, so traveling requires a little coordination. We planned this trip to each see a few things we were interested in and still have a little down time to recover. We both wanted to see his exhibit so that was step one of the trip.
That same day, we headed up the needle where we enjoyed a lovely glass of wine, potato chips and an amazing view. It usually doesn’t take too much to make us happy. I am actively involved in dog rescue and have a lot of people I know on Facebook through rescue that I’ve never met in person.
When I posted I was heading to Seattle, one of the other volunteers, Cindy, begged me to come visit her and her rescue puppy that I had actually gotten from a dog auction.
Mom and I headed out for what we thought would be a short visit with Cindy and then to explore a little of Mt. Rainier. After chatting for a little bit, Cindy offered to be our tour guide. We spent over eight hours going up and back down the mountain with this amazing person that was born and raised in the area and that gave us the most specialized tour we could have ever imaging.
This day – just like everything – fell into place. And that is usually how we travel, my mom and I; we just go with the flow and everything ends up being perfect.
Even though Mike has passed away, I remain close to his wife, Patty. She has a daughter named Trish that is my age, who makes beautiful custom jewelry. I am Facebook friends with both Patty and Trish, as Mike was always open and honest with them and his son about me from the get-go.
About two years ago, Trish was in a jewelry show that was maybe an hour and a half from me, so I asked my girlfriend if she would go with me to surprise Patty and meet her in person for the first time.
I was a nervous wreck when we got to the parking lot. I walked in and Patty was in the back. I went right up to her and she knew exactly who I was. We hugged for a long time and then started talking like we’ve always known each other. It was wonderful. We decided we needed to get together again and since Trish was busy with the show, she didn’t get to talk with us much, and we needed more one-on-one time.
About a year ago, Patty and I decided to meet up and Trish was going to come but fell ill. I had asked my mom to join us. We met at this cute little place about an hour from me. The three of us talked and laughed again like we’ve all known each other our entire lives.
Patty brought me a picture of Mike from when he was younger. She was cleaning out things from their house and thought I would like it. I carry it with me in my wallet every day. It was emotional, it was sweet and it was comfortable.
Mom and I got back in the car to leave and I’ll never forget her saying to me, “Thank you for including me in this part of your life.” Brings me to tears, the sweetness behind that. I guess as scared as I ever was of telling her that I was searching for these people, she was just as scared of maybe being left behind.
For Christmas last year, I bought one of Trish’s custom pieces for my mom. She wears it all the time and constantly gets compliments. We are all now connected in some way. Mom and I both look forward to seeing these ladies in mid-September. We are family, and I am so happy to have all of them in my life.
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Carrie Goldman is the host of Portrait of an Adoption. She is an award-winning author, speaker, and bullying prevention educator. Follow Carrie’s blog Portrait of an Adoption on Facebook and Twitter