We all have very different stories to share - each unique in it's own way. This is Brenda's story........
I want to thank Adoption Reunion Search & Support and it’s creator, Cathy. She is most certainly the Angel that has guided me here.
With my angels help over the past 15 months, I now have a family tree, I have discovered my nationality, my medical history, my birth relatives on both my maternal and paternal sides, as well as finding my birth father, and 3 half siblings! Although it was a very emotional Journey, it was so worth it. It has added so much to my life. I could not be more grateful for the Search Angels, thank you for all of the days you devoted to my search.
You would think that the first 46 years of my life would be the biggest part of My story. but because of the relationships over this past year of my search have brought me answers to lifelong questions, it is biggest part of My journey.
I was placed for adoption 48 years ago, by my birth mother, across the country from where I was conceived and from where my birth father was then and still is today. I can only speculate as to why, but I have been assured by my birth father that he was unaware I existed.
In 1969 I was adopted into a home.... that I believe started out as a loving home, to a couple who had lost children of their own through miscarriage, and there were more after I was adopted.
Depression from the loss of children was followed by alcoholism, which is often caused by trying to cover or numb pain one can't ‘Let Go’ of. I know the struggle is real. I'd like to believe that we all do our best. The best that we know how in the moment and when we grow to know better, we do better. I've most always been able to see the good in people. I feel I've given people chances over and over, to prove that they can be better, unfortunately sometimes to the point where it's caused me more harm and suffering then I should have allowed to happen.
As a child I was abused in several ways by several people. When I was old enough to run away from it, I did! I was labeled a 'runaway' at 13 and was removed from my adopted home and became a ward of the state, meaning the Courts would put me wherever there was room for me. I never fit in anywhere and I could never truly answer the question of where I came from. I ran away from foster homes and group homes, all of the ones that I could, but was forced to stay in several different centers that I could not escape. It was those centers that actually helped me. The ones that had counseling, that taught - what then was believed to be 'normal family life' and 'acceptable behavior'.
It really wasn't supposed to be the way it was for me...... life as I knew it.
I constantly wondered 'what did I do to deserve this?'.
I knew I was adopted as far back as I can remember. I was told by someone that people put their children up for adoption so that they could give them a better life. I thought how could this possibly be better? I didn't understand.
Until I found myself pregnant at 16. I was told at my intake for the Children's home I had just been placed in just 3 months prior, that I was being transferred to yet another facility for juvenile mothers. Like the last place, I would not leave the building. I went to school in that building, there babies and toddlers were in class with us.
I went through an emancipation while I was pregnant, and was able to then request, on my own from the adoption agency, my non-identifying information regarding my birth family, after being denied an original copy of my birth certificate. It was such an exciting day, but a complete let down, it stating only that my mother was the youngest of 8 children, from a very strict religious family that didn't support unwed mothers. She was 19 when she placed me for adoption and that my biological father was aware of her decision and agreed with her. Fast forward 30 years, I found out that statement was not true. I have found my biological father finally and he assures me, had he known, he would have spent his life looking for me, instead of the other way around.
Being pregnant and in the situation I was in, allowed me to see adoption in a different light than I had up until that point. I was alone, not knowing how I could provide for or take care of a child. Would I be able to give her the life I wished for her? I didn't know how to be a parent, in my mind I only knew things parents shouldn't do. I didn't remember the first years of my life that I'm told were happy. I was afraid I would never learn how to be a good enough parent. I had a million emotions, thoughts and fears to sort out before this baby was born. I imagined that this is how women who follow through with adoption, must feel at the time. I believed the love I had for my baby would be enough to get us through. We were meant to be together. Adoption wasn't an option for me.
As a juvenile I was unable to get anywhere in my search for my biological parents and I found as an emancipated adult, I wasn't getting much further. There were very few adoption groups I could find out about, before the internet. The adoption agency wanted $700, then, to find and contact my mother for me. I had just become a single parent, anytime I was able to save a little bit of money, there was always something I needed. Each year I checked back with the Department of Human Services at the Capitol to see if the laws had changed on releasing my birth certificate they had not. Then came the internet, as it developed I signed up on all the sites I could find where there were others searching for their family, praying that they were looking for me too. Once my daughter had graduated college I wasn't any further in the search on my own and I felt I had no choice other than to go through the adoption agency, I was on their waiting list for a few years, I paid the fees then $1,000. I wrote my non-identifying letter, which can be as identifying as you want it to be, that would be given to my bio mom by the adoption agency if she chose to accept it after that, the ball was in her court to reach out to me if she chose to.
That was in March of 2010, a few months later I received an email message from her. I gave her all of my identifying information she gave me very little in return. She was very private, I was a secret, she only told a sister and a brother about me. I had only her name and I was told I was conceived in California. She told me who my dad was but said he wouldn't want anything to do with me now as he didn't back then, and she would not help me find him nor would she give me any other information!! That was the end of that relationship. I never thought I would know anyone on my maternal side. From that point on I did look on my own over the next 6 years for my father but he had a very common name and there were hundreds of them in California who fit within the few years of his age group. Over the next 6 years, I found more adoption sites to sign up on groups to join and I tried to contact my mother's brother several times without ever succeeding hoping he could tell me where my birth father or birth mother lived at the time I was conceived in California. I basically felt I had been searching all my life with one roadblock after another, always ending up without the answers I was seeking until July 2016.
I logged on to Facebook and saw in my feed a reunion video, posted on one of the adoption pages I follow. It made me cry tears of joy. Every reunion story I've ever heard my whole life has.
So I read the comments in the post and I simply asked the question 'is there any way they could help me if all I have is a name and a state and an idea of the age my father at the time I was born would be?'.....
Adoption Reunions Search & Support angels, responded immediately and started working on my search, helping me to find clue after clue after clue with all of their resources we were making progress.
They were so thoughtful and understanding having gone through this themselves. The emotional support and experienced guidance they provided to me daily as we worked through this together was priceless. They taught me how they do what they do and through hours and hours of searching, by August 2016, we had found the man my mother named as my father. It was the most exciting day of my life but within hours it turned into one of the saddest days when we discovered - before reaching out - that he had passed away just 6 month earlier. I was devastated that I had waited as long as I had and it was too late. I cried for a few days. I surprised myself that I was so heartbroken over the loss of someone I had never met. I guess for me it was more the loss of the hope I had had all these years of finding them one day. I realize then, that was why it wasn't as hard as I thought when I had to say goodbye to my bio mom because I knew my dad was still there somewhere.
The search Angels encouraged me to reach out to his family. I did, I wrote up what I thought I should say, my search angel agreed and gave me that final push to send the message to his brother, who responded (a week later) to me in a positive way although he did not know of me, he said he would reach out to the family and get back to me, but I never heard from him again, with no explanation he just stopped all communication and I was again at what appeared to be another end to my search. Cathy convinced me that I needed to do my DNA and get it on Ancestry so that I could find some family that would be happy to know me. It was possible they could help me put my own pieces together and answer some questions, besides finding out my nationality, I would gain so much more. I did the test and I got the results and the closest relatives I had were two separate 2nd cousins that were not related to each other, therefore one was a maternal cousin and one was a paternal cousin. But I had no clue which was which, so I had to reach out to them both, again my search Angel helped me with what I should say. I had never thought there would be a possibility that I would ever have a relationship with someone on my maternal side after the brief email relationship I had with my birth mother 6 years before.
Now, I have met, in person three cousins and we have communicated over the past year and we are planning more get-togethers in the future. I have learned a lot from them about my maternal side. I have also communicated with several other cousins on my maternal side that have been very welcoming. One of them even setting up a private group on Facebook to introduce me to all of the cousins they know. I am grateful for each and every one of those relationships.
Once we were able to determine that one of the second cousins was my maternal side the real work began trying to find some DNA match to confirm the man my mother had named, as my father, if he really was. I wasn't ready to accept that his family would have nothing to do with me. I found it impossible to believe that both my mother and my father didn't feel at all, the same as I did. There was a part to my life that was missing that I needed to know more about.
The other second cousin was listed on Ancestry by a nickname as their profile which made it difficult to know who this person was. I sent a message through ancestry but as week after week, and month after month went by and still no response. My search Angel was always there, constant communication, guidance, support, encouragement. We were connected in a certain kind of Sisterhood bond that is comforting to me after all we were working on this together almost every day. She got me started on a “mirror tree” and doing reverse genealogy while looking at every match I had. We were trying to figure out a link.... somehow these people link to me and had to link to my father! It didn't take much longer than a few months to realize that it appeared my father may not have been who my mother said he was, 6 months after my DNA results came in, the paternal cousin responded to me. I was thrilled, at that point we had it narrowed down to six family names that we had in common and I had to relate to her within 1-2 generations... somebody, one of them, had to be my father.......
She told me that she did have one cousin that could possibly fit the description of who I was looking for, that could have been in California around the time I was conceived! She put me in contact with another cousin of hers who has turned out to be my aunt, but a first cousin of hers is my father and in April he agreed to take a DNA test!! The results came back in July and confirmed that he was indeed my birth father!
My father is alive and he wants me in his life! We just met in September. We talked several times a week and we will be spending Christmas together this year. I have 3 half siblings two of them I met in September the other I will be meeting this December, and my birth father was able to show me a genealogy book that went back 11 Generations before him. I was able to write in myself as the 12th generation and my daughter as the 13th.
I was also able to meet that second cousin who connected me to him on that same trip, as well her sisters and their mother my first cousin on my paternal side.
I spent my life knowing that there are other people out there somewhere, that must be like me that must look like, or sound like me or act like me, in some way, some similarities, because I saw it in other families, but never in my own adopted family. It turns out, my birth mother and my birth father have the same eyes that I share, and I may not be like my mother, at least the little bit I got to know of her, but there is a lot of similarities between myself and my father.
He tells me that before I found him, he felt something was missing for him, something.....indescribable, that now that I found him, he feels more complete, as if I was missing piece from his life all this time. Now that space has been filled, by me.....I make his heart smile and he is grateful for my persistence.
I kept searching, even when I thought I was at another dead and there was nothing else I could do. At times a year would go by before I would make another attempt, sometime that was easier than facing another dead end and years without progress but with the help of my search angel we did it and you can too!
My birth father tells me, had known about me that he would have spent everyday of my life looking for me instead of the other way around and I believe him.
I am so grateful. My story has inspired other people in my life to start their own search.
I am now helping them as my search Angels did for me.
I am looking forward to helping others through this site too, pay it forward!