Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Family stuff

I am the youngest of all my siblings. And I have a different kind of family history. Let me break this down... it can be confusing. In my immediate family, there are 4 of us... I have 2 sisters and 1 brother. My brother and I are adopted, and we are biological siblings. My brother was placed in to foster care at birth, and when I was born 2 years later, the county asked if they could place me with him so we would not be separated. This family has been our only family since birth as they adopted us after the death of our birth mother. She had been ill with tuberculosis and hospitalized during both pregnancies.

We both learned that we were adopted quite early in our lives. We had some photo slides showing where we were taken for visits outside of the sanitarium and there are pictures of a lady behind glass with lots of tubes... that's all I really remember of her. Fast forward to a time in the late 60's, we had moved north to Mt. Shasta. My Mom had received letters from our half sisters from our birth mother's first marriage. They were curious about us and what our lives were like and wanted to know how we were growing up. The letters continued for a couple of years with pictures back and forth. In the early 70's, I was summoned from the neighbors house (where I spent most of my free time since home was a war zone most of the time) and standing in the driveway was the most beautiful, lithe young woman with long auburn hair and a soft voice. She drove a yellow mustang... and happened to be my oldest 1/2 sister, April. I was shy and didn't know what to say. Unfortunately, my brother was not able to be located, so he missed the visit. It wasn't too long after this visit, that home life imploded and my parents decided that they were divorcing. Once we moved, the letters stopped. My Mom was unable to keep the correspondence up with all the stress of moving, and trying to tame 2 very angry, young teenagers and keep them in school while she went to work.

Just over 3 years ago, I had gone back to Washington for a visit. I spent a fabulous 10 days at home. I spent one evening down at my brothers house, and we had a very long talk out on his front porch. We discussed our two half sisters and where they were. We only knew their first names and knew that there was no way to track back with the letters as the letters were long gone.

When I came home from that trip, I went for an MRI and that test lead me on an oddessy of thyroid cancer and surgery and treatment. Everything with that lasted about 5 1/2 months. I had gone for my last scan in early April and given an "all-clear". I called my brother to let him know the test results. He told me that it was "funny that I called this morning." I asked him why and he asked me if I was still enrolled on Classmates.com. As it happened, yes, I was and recently as 2 months ago, updated my profile. He asked if I got email from the website, and I said, "Yeah... but I usually delete it." He told me to go and look real quick. There was an email written to me from April... she and Adonna, our other half sister had been thinking of us and wanted to find us and they were interested in knowing if we wanted any contact.

I wrote back as fast as I could... and she answered really fast...and phone calls were quickly made. We all emailed, called and talked back and forth for days. Finally we decided that we needed to meet... and once my doctor gave an all clear to travel, we set a date and made reservations. We all flew to Texas where Adonna lives... and we spent 5 days doing nothing but talking and sharing and piecing everything together. We all brought pictures and photo albums and scrapbooks. It was very surreal and very wonderful to see other people who looked like us. I saw real pictures of our Mother for the first time. When her senior and my senior pictures are side by side... you can see that I look like my mother.

I write this tonight, as I just got off the phone with my sister April. We talked for a good 45 minutes. She is going to send me a footed candy dish that once belonged to our mother. She asked me if I would like it... and I got a little choked up at the thought of having something that belonged to my mother. I am about to turn 50... and for the first time in my life, I am going to own a true piece of my family history. I am so excited and pleased about that.

I also want to say... my other 2 sisters... have been good sisters. They have taken good care of Mom. We have all had our own issues in dealing with adoption, blood ties and family history. One sister has always been extremely gracious and generous, the other one, has taken some time and some deep prayer and healing to be the kind of sister I have wanted. My brother, remains the same lone wolf that only talks to me... he does not open up or share with our family sisters very often. I live 3000 miles away, and know more about his life than they do and they all live in the same town.

All I can say at this moment in time... is I am grateful for family... I am grateful to have a blood tie and I am grateful for the legacy of adoption and being lucky enough to have my brother in my life. And I am grateful for the internet... classmates.com... and how technology has become as advanced as it has. If you think back to say... 1977, the year I graduated, would you have thought any of this would have been possible?

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