Sunday, May 31, 2015

I found her!

Welcome to Mary’s Garden! It’s finally wonderful weather here in the garden. You know the drill, grab a plate, fill it with goodies, pour yourself a glass of wine, or whatever and find a shady spot.

Now you wonder who her is, right? Well, maybe you don’t wonder. I’m going to tell you anyway. Are you ready for a story? Or a saga? It is my journey to find my birth family.

I was born in 1955 and a wonderful couple adopted me at birth. I was adopted by an older couple who’d finally given up trying for a child of their own.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a great family, if a bit dysfunctional. Let’s just say that made life interesting and nowhere near what I thought a normal family was supposed to be. But that is not the story I’m here to regale you with. (Or bore you with, one or the other)

I’ve always known I was adopted as did the entire small town I lived in. There were other children who wouldn’t play with me because if my own parents gave me away, why should they like me? Kids can be a bit harsh, but it made me who I am. My adoptive mother was very threatened if I asked any questions about my adoption. After time, I stopped asking.

When my mother passed away, I was twenty-nine. I decided to search for my
birth mother, but I soon realized I was searching for my entire birth family, siblings, dad and all. That was 31 years ago, before home computers. I had to do everything the hard way. Mail things in, go to the library to research. I found all the adoption places and sent in my information in hopes that my birth mother or birth father had registered.

Some people may wonder, why I would want to pursue my birth family if I had such a great life. Maybe if you’re not adopted you won’t understand, and every person is different. Here are my reasons:
1. I wanted to know where I came from. My adoptive family had history they could track back for hundreds of years and they thought that should satisfy me. But it wasn’t ME or who I was, why did I have brown hair and lily white skin that didn’t tan? Why did I have a temper? And why…. You get my drift.
2. I wanted to find my birth mother if nothing else, to ask, why? Even if she didn’t want to have nothing to do with me, I felt I had the right to know why she gave me up for adoption. And did my birth father know about me? (he doesn’t)
3. I wanted to know if I had brothers and sisters my age.

There are many more reasons, but those are the main ones. To me it was like, one minute I wasn’t here and the next I just appeared out of nowhere and my adoptive parents took me in. I have NO BACKSTORY.

A few years went by and nothing. I heard about a researcher, who would find a name of your birth mother and her contact information for $200. I called her right away and asked for her help. She found the name of my mother. June Anderson—talk about a needle in a haystack. She found four June Anderson’s in the Salt Lake City area. I was so hopeful. She ruled out two as born and raised in Utah with no breaks to have a baby and then that left two others. She called them boarders. Meaning they had come to Utah for a short period, one went to the University nursing school (at least it wasn’t the school down south—If you’re from Utah, you know what I mean). The other had a baby on March 31, 1955. But after they left, they were swallowed up. She lost track of them and found out nothing more. She only charged me $100 and I was left with a name and no contact information.

Did I give up? Hell no! But I wasn’t rich so it wasn’t like I could hire anyone. I had a family to raise, school clothes, etc. etc. etc. But I would check the adoption finds places and if a new one popped up, I would register. I even consulted the aid of psychics. Don’t laugh two were wrong. One was spot on. One, my friend, told me she couldn’t really say when or how, but I would find her. That was about six years ago. Then in between I talked to the others and they felt she had moved on to the next life.

Good thing I didn’t believe. Then I spoke with my friend again. She said she felt that a sister would help. She wasn’t sure if that meant my sister or a birth sister or whatever, that was about two years ago. Keep that in mind for when I reach that part in my story.

As you know I’m getting on in life, yeah I hit the big 6 0 this year. So a couple of years ago, about the same time I talked to my psychic friend, my husband asked me what I wanted to do for my 60th birthday. I promptly said I want to go to Ireland. You see, since I was adopted I could be whatever I wanted right? So I have told everyone, for years, I was Irish. We started saving and planning. We decided since we probably won’t get back across the pond, we’d do London for a few days, then Edinburgh, and on to Ireland for ten days. We’re going in August. I’ll blog when I get home. Anyway, you’re wondering what does this have to do with anything right? Well a lot.

Last summer I decided I wasn’t finding my birth family through the registries, psychics, etc. So I decided to go the DNA route, I did two different DNA tests, 23andMe and Ancestry.com. And that way if nothing else, I’d know where I came from. And GUESS WHAT? If you’ve watched my video bio, you already know. But I’m 53% to 75% Irish/British (depending which DNA program you look at), with Irish being 43% of that. I’m visiting my homeland, who knew! But my goal before I go is to find some relative or connection to look up when I get there. Anderson is part Scottish and part northern Irish and Lake (on my grandfather’s side—getting ahead of myself) is Irish.

Remember the part about the sister? Well in February of this year, my sister-in-law told me that the state of Utah had a consensual match site for adoptee’s. I had to get a certified birth certificate and send it in to the site. I did, but no match, as my birth mother hadn’t registered. But my sister-in-law also told me about a private Facebook group of Utah Adoptee’s. So I joined and things started rolling fast. They have a check list to do, all of which I’d done, except checking with LDS services for non-identifying information.

They call themselves search angels. And they are ANGELS. They are trying to set a precedence with the judicial court in Utah. If enough people petition the court to open sealed adoption records and enough of the requests are granted, then the state may consider to open them all. Some states have had this happen. I said I’d be happy to petition the court. On February 10, 2015, I petitioned the Salt Lake City third district court. And then it was time to wait.

Meanwhile I talked to LDS services and they said since it sounded like a private adoption and not through the social services they probably didn’t have any records. They filed the request to check anyway. Two weeks later they called and gave me the disappointing news that they had no records. I thought, well it can’t hurt to call the court and check on my case. And low and behold the judge had granted my request. I was able to go to the court and review and copy my nine page adoption file. It didn’t give me too much information but enough to point my angels in the right direction.

Within a few days they had found the names of my grandparents on Ancestry.com. They were both deceased so Jenn, one of my angels, called the Great Falls library and asked how to request a copy of the obits. In another few days we had copies of the obits and in both of them. They had a survivor listed as June (Anderson) Osborn from Arlington, Washington. Within hours or a day, I can’t remember, my angels had an address and phone number for June.

It took me a few days to decide how to contact her and I was scared. June Anderson had only been a name for thirty-one years. And now she was a person. Those of you who write may understand this better. It was like one of my characters was no longer a name/character in one of my books, but was all of a sudden a real person and I could meet them. Anyway, she was a person who could give me answers to where I came from. I wasn’t just hatched out of nowhere. I thought I’d be so overjoyed at this point. But scared was more accurate. Could I face another rejection? After all she gave me away!

I wrote her a letter, a fairy-tale letter (click here if you’d like to read it) and sent it along with pictures of all the kids and grandkids. I got so carried away with them I forgot to include a picture of just me. I did have a family picture included, so she did get a glimpse of me. I sent it on a Friday, expecting it to arrive the following Monday.

Each day I checked the tracking and it hadn’t been delivered. Agony. Finally on Wednesday afternoon it was delivered. Now, would she respond? Would she ignore it? Would she wait to respond? All these questions had me on pins and needles. That day after work I had an appointment to get my hair cut. Ron, my husband, picked me up after and we went to dinner. I told him the letter had been delivered. He was excited for me. While we were checking out the menu, my phone dinged. I figured it was a text from the kids and didn’t check for a minute. But when I did? She had emailed me and said she was very interested in connecting.

The next day I arranged to call her after dinner. We talked for two hours. It was a little awkward at first. But finally it evened out. Come to find out only my grandmother and her sister-in-law knew about me. So even her husband didn’t. Imagine her surprise to have that package show up with my letter and pictures.

We’ve been emailing ever since. She sent me a few pictures, one from when she was 6 months old. Her birthday was on Mother’s day, she turned 80. I arranged to visit her for the weekend after Mother’s day. Just a quick overnight trip.

She knew I liked wine and planned to have brunch and then go to a winery to taste. As it got close to her birthday she told me that she was getting emails to tempt her to go skydiving, which she’d done on her 75th birthday. But she couldn’t decide if she wanted to do that again or try zip lining. I emailed back and said I would never sky dive, but I loved zip lining, why didn’t we do that for our birthdays, since I had just turned 60 and she 80. At first she said no, another time. But then she thought about it and emailed me back and said Mary, let’s do it.

May 15, 2015, I flew to SeaTac International Airport, caught a shuttle to Marysville and my birth mother picked me up, we embraced for the first time in 60 years in the parking lot of a casino. Then we left, grabbed lattes from Starbucks, because we’re both coffee snobs, and went in search of the zip lining. We then went for our wine, met her husband Buryl for dinner then talked until one or two in the morning, The next morning when I finally woke up, we went to breakfast at a little diner in town, and talked some more. Then she dropped me off at the shuttle. We’re planning to have her come visit us in the fall or next spring to meet the kids and grandkids. Meanwhile she has friended us on Facebook (those of us on FB) to see pictures and keep up with us.

Her reasons for adoption are hers and not mine to tell, I understand them and love my family, I would NEVER change my life. I am so glad that I found her and so greateful for the opportunity to have a relationship now. I really wish I had been able to find her 30 years ago. Hopefully the next post on my saga on finding my birth family will be about my father or a sibling or two. Hope you enjoy the pictures and my journey, thank you for letting me share.
 Our co-zipliners
First picture
Ready for our Zip line

We made it.


Time for our wine!



Breakfast!

Bye for now!

2 comments:

stanalei said...

What a story, Mary. I'm so happy for you finding the answers you sought. Enjoy the rest of you journey with June.

Brenda said...

What an incredible journey. So glad you found each other. I hope you're able to find more of your family, too. XOXO