I never thought my wish would become a reality. Really. When I wrote my promise to say thank you to my birth mother in my journal, it was more out of…well, a compilation of emotions, actually. Relief was definitely there. Happiness. Gratefulness, too. All combined with a fantastical sense of wishful thinking.
But the thing about opening Pandora’s Box. Once the lid has cracked, curiosity continues to build. To swirl. Tempt. It starts small. Finds a safe corner in the far reaches of your mind, and then waits patiently for its next opportunity. Just when it thinks you’ve forgotten it’s there…
The Inner Struggle Begins
It was September 11th, 2005. A beautiful Sunday morning. My father and I were the only ones who woke up on time to attend church. Long story short, our family was in the midst of finding another church, and our attendance tended to dip dramatically until another place was selected. Throughout the process, however, I had been very angry and reluctant. I had a lot of friends, was well-connected with the Children’s Ministries and my small group, and didn’t want to leave. But that morning my father had announced it would be our final time attending, so I went.
Afterwards, he took me to lunch at my favorite fast food restaurant of all time — Taco Time! It was there that my father said, “Your mother and sister tell me that you’ve had some questions concerning your adoption. Questions about why.”
He was correct.
“Well,” my father began, “we received a call from ‘the contact lady’ and wanted to know how you felt about contacting your birth mother. Since you’re 18 now, your birth mother was able to get in touch with the courts and request information about you. Everyone who has been adopted gets this chance, and your mom and I always knew this day would come.”
Until this lunch with my father, I knew my birth mother’s story through my adoptive mother. Though it never dawned on me that I hadn’t pieced together how my parents had truly found me. How they had endured miscarriages, and the death of their daughter, Sarah, to SIDS nine months before I was adopted.
When I was younger, I knew this and often cried or journaled about it. Through atrocious grammar and spelling, I relayed dreams I’d have about her, and my emotional state. Somehow, my young brain interpreted that traumatic experience as the reason I was alive. The necessary event that was causing my family daily pain. That I was the ever-present reminder of the grief they’d suffered. On top of that, sadly, I believed what the media advertised about adoption. Women had two choices: adoption or abortion. It made me feel very unwanted. A mistake, at best.
Several times, I asked my oldest sister if it would’ve been better if Sarah hadn’t died. If our parents would be happier. Each and every time, through tears and many hugs, my oldest sister rejected my thoughts and said that she — and they — would never trade me for anything.
That said, in recent years, an inner curiosity for learning more about my origin surfaced. Since the night I had written that promise in my diary, actually. This is where ‘the contact lady’ came in. Until that lunch with my father, that’s the only way I knew her. She was a mysterious number that had appeared on his phone one evening. The look on my father’s face, how he grabbed his phone and quickly disappeared into his home office caught my attention.
Back to September
“We’ve already spoken to Mrs. King and told her how much we love you.”
I looked down at my half-eaten taco, appetite suddenly gone. My stomach churned, causing me to swallow bile and shift uneasily on the hard, plastic bench.
“We will support you in whatever you decide.”
Even though the conversation happened in minutes, it felt like we’d been there for an eternity. Time seemed to have stopped. Or, at the very least, slowed to a snail’s pace. I had yet to say anything. My mind fought to piece everything together. To process what he was saying, what it all meant.
Mrs. King must be the mysterious ‘contact lady.’
“You can take as much time as you need to think about it,” my father’s voice continued. “If you want to contact her, it would start with a letter. No personal information, just telling her your hobbies. Or, you could list any questions you have. Then, after that, you can go from there. Meeting her or not. Whatever you’re comfortable with. You don’t have to.”
Glancing up, I stared into the face of the man I had called father for the past eighteen years. The one who’d held me. Taught me to ride my bike. Bandaged my scrapes and bruises when I fell. I saw the emotion welling up. The mixed expression on his face.
“There’s just…something about the timing…” he whispered, swallowing hard.
Opening Pandora’s Box
Needlesstosay, it was a lot to digest. Especially on top of a four-hour shift. Both of my parents dropped me off later that September day. But work was the last place I wanted to be. Fidgety, distracted, emotionally raw — I wanted to be in my room. Journaling. Processing.
If I chose to pursue what I’d promised in my diary, I’d — in essence — be opening a Pandora’s Box of sorts. A whole other world. More family. Additional siblings maybe. Cousins. Two more sets of grandparents. Potentially more heartbreak than I could handle. All things I’d never be able to reverse or take back if it went wrong.
All my life I’d wondered. Now here was the chance to know. To learn. To get answers. But…is that what I wanted? Was I ready to face whatever happened and still be ok? Did I have a strong enough sense of self?
I watched my parents finish their shopping and walk out of the store. My inner little girl wanted to tear the apron off and run after them. To be hugged and soothed, and have everything go back to the way it was. But it couldn’t. Whether I realized it or not, our lives would never be the same again.
The words had been spoken. The choice was out there. Temptation lured. Pandora’s Box had been cracked open.
To Be Continued…
In Case You Missed it…
Click here to read Part I.
Adoption Choices of New York
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Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
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About the Author
Rachel Robertson is a published journalist, book editor, certified Publishing Specialist, and aspiring novelist. She graduated from Central Washington University (CWU) in March 2011, having found her writing voice within the Creative Nonfiction genre and grew to work as a freelance book editor for small presses all across the United States.
In June 2018, she embarked on an internship with Virginia Frank and came on board with Adoption Choices Inc., Not for Profit 501(c)(3), in December 2018. Between her mutual passion with adoption and surrogacy, and her own personal history with adoption, Rachel is excited to research and share topics each week that will spread awareness and better serve the faithful patrons of Adoption Choices Inc.
When Rachel isn’t haunting her local Starbucks or Barnes and Noble, she’s avidly pouring over her Writer’s Digest subscription or cozying up with a cup of tea and book. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her beloved wife and Border Collie.