Child adoption stories are like windy Hill Country roads. To enjoy them fully, you have to start at the beginning.
So, first things first.
If you missed reading from the beginning of this series, you are encouraged — nay, exhorted — to go back and start from the beginning. If you start here, I’ll look like a crappy writer, and you’ll go away very confused.
Neither of us wants that.
So if you’re in a rush, slow down. Skip work if you must. (Don’t tell your boss I told you to.)
Three decades passed, and the closest I got to meeting her was finding someone I thought was my maternal grandfather. He had the same last name as I had at birth, he was military, and Mom found a wedding notice that she thought was about my biological aunt. After trying to contact him by mail, I received a gracious letter saying he was not the man I thought he was. And in the Small World category, I recently learned that my real paternal grandfather had the same name as another man (not the one I wrote to), born four months apart from each other, both graduating from Annapolis, and both decorated naval aviators in the Pacific Theater in WWII.
I tried traditional search methods to find her: I looked into an adoptee group for help and guidance, but I found it depressing and filled with angry people. I added my name to New York State’s Adoption Registry:
New York at that time had closed adoptions, and both parties needed to register to find each other; apparently, she hadn’t. I considered hiring a private detective agency. Too expensive. I also considered unconventional methods, including faking my way into the birth records archives of the hospital where I was born or even into the NYC Department of Health, where I might find my original birth certificate. Arrest for trespassing and theft seemed like a small price to pay.
(The plot of being UPS deliverymen with my best friend Dave, mentioned in Part 2, had been 86’ed long before.)
My “longing” became something that could be described better as desperation. It wasn’t healthy, and my grand search occasionally robbed my wife of my attention. I ran into one wall after another, and at a certain point found myself thinking, “This isn’t fair.” I had become more like those angry adoptees I had previously looked down on.
In 2012, however, AncestryDNA was launched in the United States. This ultimately gave me the second of the two pieces of information I needed to complete my search, the first piece being my full name at birth that Mom had told me.
I had started an Ancestry.com account a few years back – another fruitless attempt – and while I’d heard about genetic testing and its availability to the general public, I don’t recall why I waited four years before using it. Perhaps its advertised promise of finding relatives made me terrified of actually meeting her or knowing more about my birth.
My childhood had been great.
So, while the “truth” seemed attractive in theory, would the truth be as attractive when encountered?
What New York State and a number of people kept secret for decades was soon uncovered with $59 and a cotton swab.
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