It’s me, Jennifer. I’m here, all grown up with a child of my own, wishing I was speaking to you instead of writing a letter I hope you might see in cyberspace.
And today is our day — the day that seals our fate, and continues to toy with our emotions.
I hope you don’t mind that I’ve been looking for you, wishing and hoping I might answer the questions, finish the puzzle, gain some understanding. The kind women who are helping with my search assure me you would want to be found, that birth mothers often don’t search themselves because they were told they had no right to, or because they fear rejection.
I fervently hope they are right. My letter isn’t intend to hurt you, invade your privacy or stir up trouble. I just desperately want to introduce myself, get to know you.
I’ve uncovered a bit of information here and there, discovering that you were at St. Faith’s in Tarrytown. Thanks to the kind secretary at Christ Church, learned your name — Patricia Clark — and my birth name, and saw the record of my baptism.
My search led me to two St. Faith’s moms. Do you remember Karen and Sandra? I’ve had the good fortune to meet Karen — she’s a delight — and talk with Sandra by phone. Both have filled me in about life at St. Faith’s, so I have a little idea of what that time must have been like for you. Sandra and Karen have found their daughters and help to keep my hope alive.
My non-identification from Westchester Family Services finally solved the mystery of my ethnic background — English and German, despite the Sunday gravy and meatballs I was raised on. I guess I must get my petite stature from your mom and my coloring from my first father — because I’m sure not blonde and blue-eyed!
The WFS report talks about your beautiful smile. I like to hope that mine is like it, that when I smile, I’m channeling you.
Of course, I have a million questions — about my appearance, my health, my talents and skills, values and thought processes. You must wonder quite a bit, too.
Be assured that I had a lovely childhood. My adoptive parents, Mike and Ginger Salvatore, are terrific, loving, supportive, good people. They took wonderful care of me, and continue to marvel at their good fate to have a family thanks to you and my sister’s birth mother. Unlike a lot of adoptive parents, they fully support my search, and hope I will find you.
Here I am with them in 1968 (I don’t know why we are not smiling.):
And here I am at age 3:
My upbringing was typical of suburban New York — I took dance lessons, learned to swim at the Y, played the clarinet for years and got good grades at school. There were sleepovers and trips to the circus, a family vacation in the Poconos and another in Washington, DC. My routine included church on Sunday, ice skating at Playland on Friday nights, and on any given day: band practice, band competitions, color guard events and participation in many of the school plays.
This was the first day of kindergarten:
I went to college, at Pace in White Plains, and got a degree in print journalism.
Here’s what I looked like in college:
I was lucky to ply my trade — truly the best job I ever had — for 20+ years before the declining newspaper subscriptions forced me to regroup. These days I’m using my writing skills as a communications manager and finding that I have a whole new set of things to learn. At age 46, I’m just starting to spread my wings.
I’m also a Jazzercise instructor and continue to play the clarinet with a community band.
I’m married — for 18 years — to a wonderful man who somehow endures my tempestuous and exacting nature.
Basil and I met when I was in college and working as a hostess at a restaurant he liked to frequent. He still makes me laugh, even when I am trying not to, and he is a wonderful cheerleader for most anything I want to try. He’s even sat at this computer for hours helping me try to find you.
Here we are:
Our daughter, Catherine, will be 16 in April. How strange it is to see some bits of myself in her — a first for me. She is beautiful and smart, kind and funny as hell. I wonder how many of her personality traits come from you.
This is a recent picture of her. I admit I love it when people say she looks like me, but she looks a lot like her dad, too.
I hope that life has been good to you, that you have a family and a fulfilling job or vocation. I hope you are happy and well.
I wish, too, if I am lucky enough to find you, you’ll agree to meet and tell me all about you — and all about the events before and after Feb. 15, 1966.
With warm wishes,
Terri S. Vanech
nee Jennifer Elaine Clark