I'm not sure how much will be geared (staged) toward entertaining the tv audience and how much will be allowed to transpire in a true fashion, but I'm sure many adoptees and birth parents will be tuning in, as well as any family who has lost a loved one due to one moving away and losing track of each other, family estrangements, natural siblings separated due to divorce or foster care situations, or just someone tracing their roots.
As most of you know from previous posts, I was adopted. I was one of the lucky one's to find part of my biological family, and have had several requests to tell the story of how I found them. I had almost decided not to post about it because I didn't think I could do a shortened version of it and still effectively portray the emotions involved, plus it doesn't seem to be that uncommon a story anymore. But I've changed my mind, because I've realized that many people, including myself, never really tire of hearing someone else's story, as long as that story is authentic.
My story begins before the computer age and google, so I had to conduct it the old fashioned way! And, since the search for and discovery of my maternal family took place thirty-one years ago, I'll have to copy the events from a journal of sorts that I kept at the time for posterity. I'll also have to make this a serial story, as it's not a short one. It's a story that continues even til today, as many parts of it have changed with the passing of time. You'd think that after all this time the telling of this would have lost it's luster for me, but that's definitely not the case.
The decision to look for my birth mother wasn’t made until I was thirty years old, happily married, and the mother of a four year old daughter. I had known since about the age of ten that I was adopted, and had suffered through the typical adoptee daydreams, frustrations, and doubts, but I had always assumed that there was no hope of finding out about my real parents since I had no information and since it was a well known fact that orphanages and various agencies involved in the adoption process do not give out information. I believed that it would be a waste of time, money and emotions to even attempt a search. The thought occasionally entered my mind, especially when I would be explaining to someone that I was adopted, and most especially when I gave birth to my daughter, but the idea was quickly put aside for more practical matters of day to day living.
Then, in August of 1978, my adoptive father told me that he had run across my adoption papers and would send them to me. I had no idea what information was contained in these thirty year old records - for some reason it had never occured to me that such papers were even in existence - but I instinctively knew that something important was about to happen. The mere existence of these papers ignited every emotion I had kept hidden for so many years, and I knew that there was about to be a change in my life.
I was born on May 15, 1948,in Chicago, Illinois, and was placed in the Lake Bluff Orphanage. Until I received a copy of the papers involved in my adoption, this was all I knew about my birth. I had no idea what hospital I was born in or why I was placed for adoption. The weeks of waiting for the adoption papers to be sent to me were too filled with emotions to just sit and do nothing, so I decided to write the attending physician whose name was given on the “dubbed” birth certificate. To my surprise, he was still around, and he was kind enough to send a reply to my letter - which I would soon find was something I could not expect from everyone! He was able to tell me that, although he couldn’t possibly remember my birth, he knew that I was born at the University of Illinois Medical Center. You wouldn’t think that such a trivial piece of information could cause much excitement, but I was on the proverbial cloud nine for days, and more anxious than ever to obtain more “facts” about my birth.
Each day I waited nervously for the adoption papers to arrive, and each day it seemed that the mailman arrived later than the day before. I would actually tremble with anticipation when walking to the mailbox! When they finally came, I hesitated before opening the thick envelope. Would they contain a key to my identity, or would they just be a lot of legal words masking my identity and closing the door on my search? (to be continued...Part 2 here)