Friday, December 05, 2008

A Few Miles Away

I've made it to DC, and spent some time this afternoon wandering the streets. It's a pretty city- at least where I am- and it is a beautiful, crisp day.

Something old tugged at me. Always does when I'm in this city, which is probably why I rarely come here.

My birthmother lives here.

I was given up for adoption when I was born. I've always been proud of being adopted, as was my mother who raised me. I have an adopted son. Both my siblings were adopted, too, from different birth mothers.

When I was in college, my sister's birthmother found her. She was dying, and wanted to let my sister know how much she loved her and wished she could have raised her.

It tore my mother apart. She asked me if I wanted to find my birthmother. I said no. I saw the look in her eyes and it was the only answer that would not hurt her.

I lied. I did want to find my birthmother.

Being adopted, I also wondered who was the woman who gave me up. Why? Why didn't she want me? Was she a whore? Was she some bad person who did bad things- and by blood so would I?

Mostly, I wanted to know who she was, what she looked like. I had never been with a single blood relation in my life until the day Ben was born.

When I was twenty five, I decided I could not wait until my mother died to look. I asked her for all my information and she gave it to me. It was not a hallmark moment.

I hired a private detective and found my birthmother, although it took almost two years. I wrote her a letter.

A month later- one spent anxiously checking the mailbox every day- she wrote back. My heart dropped. I was overjoyed and scared and relieved. I found her.

The details of my adoption were a young masters degree student at Syracuse University had a summer fling with a construction worker in a small, resort town outside Syracuse. She said he was very sweet but not very nice. He did not acknowledge the baby was his. She didn't want to marry him anyway.

She could have had an abortion- even in 1962- but chose not to. She never held me. Never saw me.

We corresponded for some time. I never called her- she asked me not to- and she never called me. We shared photos, favorite writers, and she told me my medical history.

Gradually, we fell out of touch. She didn't want a daughter and I didn't really want another mother. Mine was a handful. She never told me much about my birthfather- just that he was blond and blue eyed and Irish.


I went back to my room and looked her up. She is only a couple miles away from where I am right now. She's 72 now- we've both gotten much older. I have two half brothers- I knew that many years ago but they were both young and she carefully guarded them.

I understood and left it be.

I realize this is unfinished business for me. Maybe it's because my mother is dead. Maybe it's because I never heard her voice, or looked into her eyes.

I have her eyes. Ben has them, too.

I don't know what I'm looking for right now.

I only know she's a few miles away.


Blogger Ms. Moon said...

Bless you. That is so compelling. There must be some part of you that desperately wants to see this woman, to look into her eyes.
I'll bet she wants desperately to look into yours, too but fear of the pain keeps her from letting that happen.
I'm so sorry.

4:18 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

we'll see.

I think I'd have to have my wife here with me to do it. Don't think I could do it alone. too big.

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Ian O said...

Could have flown me down with you. My charming personality and wit would have made it easier.

5:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm adopted, too, but I knew my birth mother my whole life, since I stayed in the family. Even though I know her and we've seen each other and tried to establish a relationship, it's been impossible for me for many reasons. I'm just always left with this longing for something that no amount of asking questions and staring at her wondering about our similarities will ease. It's confusing to be connected to someone through birth only, since birth is such a big deal and implies a certain expectation for relationship and yet it's not really that simple.

6:18 PM  
Anonymous Laura said...

Good Luck Sara....

And I think you are right. You need support there with you.....dont do it alone.

7:44 PM  
Blogger Lula de Montes said...

she's 72. not young, but certainly old. Frail maybe, who knows? If the correspondence fizzled out, ask yourself why you both stopped writing. I'm a firm believer in the scorched earth policy: attend to the present and future and leave the past for what it is. We have so little time to dance in this o so short life...

9:29 PM  
Anonymous donald said...

i'm sure it is difficult for you knowing she is so close and your not being able to see her.

glad you were able to meet sue and unnamed partner for dinner. hopefully that took your mind off your mother for awhile.

hang in there!

11:06 PM  
Blogger Rev. Bob said...

Are we all doomed to keep iterating in our heads over unfinished business in our lives?

I know I sure am. There was a really bright woman who worked for me years ago who had seen me flipping out and raving (not at her, but at the ceiling) about something that made no sense. I emailed her a short while back and asked her, "Am I a monster?" She wrote back nicely, and I'm pretty sure she asked herself "Who the hell was that?"

There are people I long to see again and others I'd dread seeing again, all for no good reason.

I'm relying on you to figure that out.

3:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

for some of us our parents died at early ages.

you have nothing to lose and only everything to gain.

4:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do agree with what one of the posters said the past is the past. It should remain there, concentrate on the future. However, something like this has happened to a really good friend of mine who will never have the opportunity to know who her father is because he was a one night stand for her mother and they never exchanged names or anything. She is the result of that and she often tells me that she would have loved to be able to put a face to him but after all these years (she's in her early 40's) her mother doesn't want to talk about that one night and is not very cooperative. She's also told me she may be lucky afterall, maybe he's mean or a monster and she's probably better off not putting a face to her bio-dad, so if I base it on what my friend says and what she feels, needing closure, I'd go and bring someone with you, someone understanding, someone who gets if you and your bio-mom want to perhaps be alone for a bit.

It's a tough decision, I don't envy you, but do what ever makes you feel right and whatever will leave you feeling the least regret.

Good Luck!

1:37 AM  
Blogger Rose said...

A lot of time has past, things change.
It is often better to risk rejection than wonder what would have happened.
I only met my father once. I was 39. I was the one that reached out to him. He felt so much guilt about me he could have never done it. My mother lied about who my father was until I was 35. He is dead now. I am glad I had that one day with him. In some ways that time answered some of the questions...not all of them...but some.

7:16 PM  

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