I am an adoptee. This was a fact of my life that I have always known. I had wonderful and loving parents but something was missing. I have always wondered who, out there, was connected to me. I grew up in the Bronx, New York.
When I gave birth to my first child I felt the burning desire to find out who gave birth to me. At first it was for the sake of my beautiful baby girl. She really should know her medical history. Later it was the need of filling a hole in my life that left me feeling alone.
My search was long and hard. I would get a piece of information and my adrenaline would rise. When that piece of information got me only so far, I would feel depressed. But the need was so strong that I just couldn’t stop looking.
After 8 years of searching I finally received the name and phone number of the woman that gave birth to me.
I picked up the phone and started to dial and then slammed it down. My hands shaking, I would repeat this several times. Finally I got myself together, collected my thoughts and dialed the number. It was now ringing and my breathing got heavier.
She answered the phone. “Hello?”
I said “Hello Rhea. My name is Jeannie Lachman and I am your daughter.” The phone was silent for a moment or two but felt like several minutes.
She said “No”. I thought, What??? I took a breath and said, “I know this must be a shock to you as I had time to prepare for this call and you have not. Would you like me to give you time and call you back tomorrow or next week, whatever is best of you?”
She said yes and asked me to call back the next day.
I waited 24 hours. It felt like an eternity. Would she deny me? Would she be angry with me for calling? Did I even have the right person?
I called back the next day and she apologized for what she said and would love to get to know me. I was elated. I told her that she didn’t have to tell anyone I contacted her as I truly didn’t want to disrupt her life. She told me she had a daughter and was going to tell her. She would not reveal the name of my birth father nor the circumstances behind the relationship with him.
I soon received a letter in the mail from Carole, my birth sister. How sweet of her to write me.
We corresponded through mail and through the computer.
I also phoned Rhea every other Sunday for a year before Carole suggested we reunite at her house.
My husband and I drove seven hours to Toronto. When we arrived at the hotel I was feeling very nervous. We called Carole and told her we were on our way to her house.
We pulled into the driveway and I knew this was it. A moment I had waited for all my life. We knocked on the door and when it opened I saw Carole’s husband and standing behind him was my mother. She was a small frail woman with a beautiful smile on her face and we embraced.
Our visit was a whirlwind. There was so much to take in. But nice as the visit was, my birth mother still would not give me any information on my birth father.
Carole and I built a great relationship over the years. We visited each other from time to time.
Through the years my birth mother would still not speak about who my father was.
As I lost both of my adoptive parents to cancer 4 years apart I realized how quickly you can lose a loved one so I wrote my birth mother a letter asking for information.
She told me she would think about it.
One year went by and Rhea was diagnosed with cancer. I was told by Carole that the family discussed it and thought I would be nice if I could visit her in the hospital.
My husband and I dropped everything and travelled to northern Canada to visit her in the hospital.
She held my hand and smiled. She was so happy I was there.
Even on her deathbed she would not tell me who my dad was.
I left feeling empty. I was sad this would be the last time I would see or hear from her. It broke my heart. But at the same time I was angry at her for keeping this secret I desperately wanted to know.
While I was back in New York, Carole overheard a key piece of information regarding my dad.
After worrying about disobeying her family’s wishes she finally told me. I now had a name!
When Rhea passed away my husband and I went to the funeral. I did not tell people who I was. Only close family knew about me.
If I had any advice for adoptees searching it would be to have patience. It is a long, hard road. It is an emotional roller coaster. Be persistent.
I joined support groups. I was told that you can write to the adoption agency you were adopted through requesting non identifying information. Even though it is non-identifying it still tells you things you may need in your search. There are many more resources out there now than there was when I was searching.