I first met my birthmother in 1991 when I was 28 years old; I’m not sure what I expected. The search had been thrilling. The detective work was great fun. I was fortunate to find her with minimal effort after a short search. She was thrilled to hear from me. I did not think about anything past that initial meeting.
OK, so then what?
I was not looking for another mother; the one I had was wonderful in every way. I found a big brother; that was nice since I did not have one of those. I found an aunt and uncle, but I already had scores of those. Between 1991 and 2009, we had occasional contact. She loved sending greeting cards and I received those for many occasions. She did not visit too much despite only living 35 minutes away. My children were born in 1992, 1994, 1998 and 2007 and I expected her to embrace her role as grandmother. That did not really happen. I invited her to every event I could think of; she only attended sporadically.
I always said that when I searched, I was NOT looking for another mother but deep down maybe I really was. I spent many of those first 28 birthdays KNOWING that she was thinking about me on that day. When I found her, she admitted not remembering exactly what day I was born. She did remember it was the year that John F. Kennedy was killed. At least that was accurate.
Don’t get me wrong; we had many great moments together in those 19 years. The times we did spend together were great. I guess I was just trying to define her as a mother, my other mother. She was my birth mother and in this case that looked different.
I really cannot even imagine what it must be like to make an adoption plan for your child. One of the first things she said to me was, “I’ve always worried that you were dead.” I would gather that one must have to compartmentalize a lot of emotions in order to move forward. I am a firm believer in destiny; I was destined to join my adoptive family. But I was not the one who left a baby at the hospital.
So, what DID I expect in 1991? I did not expect to hold her hand on her death bed. I did not think about planning her funeral. I did not expect to greet mourners at the side of her casket and hear all the wonderful stories about her. I did not expect to hear over and over again, “your mother did so much for me,” and “you look just like her.” But that is what happened and I was privileged to have had her for 19 years.