Posted: Jul 27, 2012 at 6:05 PM [Jul 27, 2012]
It was July of 1970 when I was born. My mother was a scared 15 year old girl with
no means or way of even thinking she could possible care for me the way I
needed to be cared for. I was also born
with hip dysplasia and would need extensive therapy if I were to ever hope to
walk correctly. With the help of her
family she tried for 9 months, but came to the realization that what might have
been the easier choice for her wasn’t necessarily the best choice for me. She spent many days dreading what she knew
was the inevitable. There happen to be a
kind, understanding and sympathetic teacher at her high school who could see
that something was weighing heavy on my mother’s heart. She eventually asked my mother to come live
with her and her husband. After many
discussions about the situation my mother was in she had finally come to the
realization that giving me up for adoption was the best and only option that I
had for a normal, happy life. Here is
where my story begins.
I don’t remember when or how I was told I was adopted, but I
always knew. I was one lucky little girl
to even be adopted having a disability.
It was never a secret nor was any information that my parents had on my
birth parents ever kept from me. I
remember when I reached a certain age (13 I think) my mom gave me a letter that
my birth mother had slipped into my belongings.
It had explained how much she loved me and how she never wanted to let
me go. How much she would miss me every
day and hoped that I would have the love and family I so deserved. I don’t remember much about that day, but I
do remember that I was glad to have been given that letter. It did fill some sort of emptiness in my
heart. I don’t know about anyone else
who has been adopted but I had a really hard time understanding how someone
could give their own child away. Maybe
it was because my new parents made me feel sooo loved and wanted every day of
my life. I couldn’t understand how someone
could love another person that much yet choose to purposely exempt them from
their lives. That was something that I
never could quite wrap my head around.
Then, on my 16th birthday I was looking through
the Ann Arbor News for a job and, I’m not sure even to this day how this caught
my eye, but I noticed a specific ad in the personals (which I wasn’t even
looking at!). The ad read “Happy 16th
Birthday Tamatha. I will always love
you. I have never forgotten. Mom”.
You can just imagine what was going through my head at this point. I turned to my parents who were sitting in
the living room about 5 feet from me and asked them if they had put the ad in
the paper. My mom quickly came over and
the look on her face said it all. It was
then that I realized that my birth mother had been trying to keep in touch with
me the only way she knew how. My mom
explained to me that I was adopted from a state adoption agency and that my
birth mother knew I was adopted by a family in the Ann Arbor area. Needless to say, I spent the rest of my 16th
birthday very emotional and unable to stop the tears from flowing.
Every year there after I would check the Ann Arbor news for
the ad and every year it was there. I
don’t know why I was torturing myself.
Each time I would read those ads I would leave me feeling longing for
something I couldn’t quite grasp. It was
like in some way my birth mother could reach out and touch me easing her
heartache, but I couldn’t reach far enough to ease my own. In fact, it just added to my longing and
wonder. I began to dread that day every
year, yet every year I would fanatically search for my personal message from my
distant past life. I turned that wanting
into anger pretty quickly. How could she
be so selfish as to ease her own conscience without even considering what it
might be doing to me? It was like she
could find me, keep what little contact she was able to have with me open, make
herself feel a little better (if only for 1 day) and move on. I was left feeling like she is able to find
me whenever she wants yet I have no idea where she is nor any way of ever
knowing. It felt very cruel and
self-absorbing on her part to me.
I spent the next 14 years reading those ads in the Ann Arbor
News whether it be in paper or on the internet when that came to be. I had since moved out on my own, gotten
married and was starting a life of my own.
It was on my 30th birthday and, as usual, I was on the Ann
Arbor News website reading my annual birthday wishes when my husband suggested
that I call the newspaper and ask them who put the ad in the paper. I had done this so many times before without
luck and was pretty upset when he kept pushing the issue. I was always told that they do not have
records of who paid for the ad because whoever did always paid in cash. I had contemplated many times paying someone
to break into the hospital or state agency to steal my file or maybe I could
bribe someone. Who was I kidding? I can’t do that. But, my husband kept pressing me and, after
I’m not even sure how long, I finally just gave in and said fine, I’ll call,
but it will be the same answer that I have been getting for years. What is going to make this time any
different? Why couldn’t he just
understand that he was making this harder for me? I never really had a totally happy birthday
since that moment on my 16th birthday and now he was making it more
of a heart wrenching day than I normally had to deal with. What the heck? I’ll just call them and get it over with and
maybe he will lay off once and for all!
So, I dialed the number and waited for yet another punishing
no to be dealt my way, but that is not what happened this time. I spoke with a very nice young man on the
phone and he informed me that this was the first year that they had started
taking ads and payment via the internet.
That he was looking at her full name and contact information. Holy Crap!!!
Now what?!? Of course, he
couldn’t just give me her personal information and that I understood. I’m guessing that the nice young man on the
phone, after hearing my story, decided that he wanted to help in any way that
he could. He offered to call the phone
number on the contact information and see what he could do. He would get back to me with whatever
information he came up with. I hung up
the phone and walked out of my office to find my husband and try to calmly
explain to him what had just transpired.
What on earth has just happened?
Years and years of wonder, questions and anger might be about to be
resolved and all because this pushy husband of mine wouldn’t stop bugging me to
call them one more time!
Within minutes I received a phone call back from the
gentleman from the Ann Arbor News. He
explained to me that the telephone number listed was to her office and she was
out of town at a conference. He had left
my name, Tamatha, (which she had named me and my parents never changed) and
phone number requesting a call back.
Now, all I had to do was wait and see if she had the courage to call me
back. That was the longest day of my
life. I don’t even know how long I
waited until that call finally came. I
picked up the phone and heard an unfamiliar voice ask for Tamatha. As soon as I stated that I was Tamatha sobs
on the other end started. Oh my
God. This is my birth mother. What on earth am I supposed to say to this
woman? How do you start a conversation
with the woman who gave birth to you, but, for all intensive purposes, you have
never met? Well, once the conversation
got started it went on for hours. All of
that anger that I thought had was completely gone. I could hear in this woman’s voice all of the
pain that she had been going through for the past 30 years and the relief that
she was just given knowing that the 2 most wonderful people I have ever known
in my whole life had raised me with all of the love, gentleness, kindness,
understanding, unselfishness and security that anyone could ever hope for. I had had a wonderful childhood and they were
always extremely supportive of me searching for my birth parents and even tried
to help in any way they could.
So, now what do we do.
I now knew that she lived in Arkansas, had a 13 year old daughter and
was an Assistant Warden for a female prison.
We had decided that we would meet in person soon, but how could I now
wait for soon. My husband and I went out
to dinner, telling everyone that we saw what amazing event had just happened to
me on my 30th birthday. We
decided that I would catch a plane in the next few days and go to meet my birth
mother and half-sister for the first time!
My husband wanted to go with me, but I felt like this was something that
I had to do on my own.
A few days later I was on a plane to Little Rock,
Arkansas. You would think that this is
where the story sums up, but not quite yet. I was lucky enough to travel on a day where
there was a tornado in Kansas City where I was supposed to catch a connecting
flight to Little Rock. We couldn’t land
the plane because of the weather and were diverted to another airport where I
would have to spend the night alone without any hotel reservations among the
1000’s of other passengers were stranded.
Meanwhile, my connecting flight did take off and did arrive in Little
Rock on time. As my birth mother and
sister stood at the gate waiting for me the final passenger disembarked and the
gate was closed. She was overwhelmed
with the thought that she didn’t even recognize her own daughter and I walked
right past her. It wasn’t until my
husband was able to contact her quite a bit later that she was informed of the
situation. The following morning I was
on the first flight to Arkansas to start my adventure.
My birth mother, Maggie, and my sister, Tessa, picked me up
from the airport and I can’t even begin to put into words what I was feeling at
that exact moment that I realized I was facing this woman whose words had been
tormenting me ever July 14th for the last 14 years! I won’t even try. I spent a few days there getting to know
them, them getting to know me, going through each others photo albums and just
getting used to the idea that we were all now in each others lives forever.
It has been 12 years now and I am happy to say that we have
seen each other many times since then. A
few years after our initial meeting my husband, mom, dad and myself drove to
Arkansas to watch my sister graduate from high school and blend our two worlds
together. You can just imagine how
uncomfortable it was at first to be sitting between the mother who raised me and
the mother who gave birth to me. I was
so nervous that my mom would feel pushed aside or left out, but those two
mothers of mine spent more time talking to each other than they did to me! They get along wonderfully and we all had an
amazing time. We even got a private tour
of the prison!!! My birth mother has
also visited me here in Michigan, but not as often as I would like.
I have a wonderful relationship with my sister, Tessa. She is such a joy to have in my life. She has since had a little girl of her own,
so I am now an aunt on my side of the family for the first time. My sister and birth mother tried and tried to
find my birth father and finally succeeded.
It was 15 years too late though.
He has passed away. I did talk to
his brother in Sarasota and found out that I also have a half-brother. I have contacted my half-brother on Facebook,
but have yet to get a response. I have
chosen to not stay in contact with my birth father’s side of the family out of
respect for my half-brother. He was not
aware of my existence and I don’t want him to resent me if I push my way into
the only family he has ever known and claim it as my own. I can only hope that, in time, he will want
to get to know me.
So, for anyone who feels like life just doesn’t make sense
sometimes and that things just shouldn’t be the way that they are, just
works in mysterious ways!