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Adoption, Family

Flash forward Friday — A secret no more

Me and Pat.

Me and Pat.

I don’t know if you can be Cinderella in a pair of riding boots, but on Monday I sure felt that way.

I punctuated a weekend’s worth of birthday celebrations by meeting the woman who gave birth to me.

(Go ahead and read the previous sentence again. I met the woman who relinquished me for adoption 47 years ago.)

We had a long lunch — the first meeting after several long phone calls in which I’d learned that

  • She’s been just 90 minutes away all this time
  • I have two half-brothers
  • She had not been looking for me, but had thought of me over the years and hoped I was happy
  • There was just one other person left in her family that knew of my existence. Indeed, my call firmly set a decision at her feet. 

Monday added more pieces of the puzzle — a process that will take time for us both. She told her sons about me, and they took it well, she said; could she see me?

Why yes!

At the restaurant, we got a kick out of seeing we’d both dressed in the same colors and wore similar earrings.

Like me, she laughs easily, and doesn’t seem to take herself too seriously.

We both can talk … and talk!

She shared pictures with me, pointing out enough relatives that it is clear I must invest in a white board to track them all.

Basil and Catherine met her briefly and later said that she and I share similar mannerisms and body language — that even our walk is the same.

In the above photo, taken by the restaurant hostess, I can see a resemblance I didn’t see in the photos she had emailed.

People keep asking me how I feel, if the day met my expectations. I don’t quite know how to respond.

Afraid of a final rejection, I’d kept my expectations low, and tried — as I did throughout my five-year search — to just be grateful for what I knew so far, just in case that was all there would be for me. I recognized that I was upending a lot of lives and knew it might not go well — at either end of the equation.

Today I am a bit overwhelmed, at once happy and wistful, filled with wonder and a bit of shock. I’m still pinching myself, for it must be a dream.

Six weeks ago, I was a secret.

Profuse apologies to everyone who has interacted with me this week. I am completely unmoored.

And if the day was a whirlwind of emotions, its coda was even more so.

I returned to Connecticut to find a Facebook friend request from one of my half-brothers, and then a long note that started “Hello Big Sis.”

We talked on the phone — a somewhat breathless conversation punctuated by silences while each of us tried to absorb it all. He joked that his wife knew he had “middle child syndrome” all along.  I hope I will meet him soon (and have a proper conversation where I don’t sound like a ninny!).

Shortly after we talked, he posted on Facebook: “Spoke with my new sister for the first time tonight. I’m still a little speechless.”

What followed was an incredible outpouring of messages and friend requests from my “new” relatives — cousins and cousins-in-law, each of whom I had to ask: “WHO are you?!”

They were, each in turn, warm and welcoming, curious and kind. I needn’t have feared rejection after all.

“We will be with you forever now,” one messaged me.

I hope so.

About Terri S. Vanech

Wife, mother, communications specialist, Jazzercise instructor and recently reunited adoptee. I'm living out loud -- and trying to make it all work -- in midlife. Having a sense of humor sure helps.


35 thoughts on “Flash forward Friday — A secret no more

  1. I remember meeting you online when you were just on the verge of closing in on your birth family. Then, for some reason, we lost touch. I’m glad to read of the overwhelming events that have taken place since then, and very happy for all of you. “We will be with you forever now.” What more could anyone want to hear?

    Posted by bronxboy55 | December 1, 2013, 10:52 am
  2. What a wonderful story, Terri! I’m so happy for you, and so enjoyed reading your blog! All the best to you and your entire family!

    Posted by Joan Morenstein | February 28, 2013, 5:27 pm
  3. What a wonderful and happy ending. I hope to experience the joy of meeting my birth Mother one day as well. Reading stories like yours helps keep my hope alive, God Bless.

    Posted by irisheyezs | February 24, 2013, 11:10 am
  4. Visit from Happy Friday Blog Hop.
    Time to visit and follow.
    would be great if you can visit and link up.
    Have a great day.

    Posted by BlogShe (@blogshe) | February 24, 2013, 7:13 am
  5. myself being a birthmother I am so glad you are starting your life as a non secret secrets suck the life from ones soul my son just turned 36 on the 19 and we talked for the first time 6 years ago I am happy for you From up here in NH I send you a HUG

    Posted by nutsfortreasure | February 23, 2013, 4:11 pm
  6. Oh Terri, how delightful it is to read that you have been greeted with open arms and hearts. You have taken such a brave and truly incredible journey. I am glad that all is going well for you. Thank you for opening your heart here. What a joy it is to see the doors continue to open for you!

    Posted by Kelly Blackwell | February 22, 2013, 11:46 pm
  7. I have been checking your blog every day to see what happened.. Thanks for the torture..
    I am so happy for you!! And just think… you now have mom, 2 half brothers, extended cousins and family to buy Christmas presents and bake for!! LMAO! But this is the best present of all. Congratulations on completing this long journey.

    Posted by John S. Pontillo | February 22, 2013, 2:25 pm
  8. Terri — I read your blog because I am a Jazzercise instructor in Northern California, and my husband and I have been trying to adopt a child for the last 2.5 years. This post literally brought tears to my eyes, and anyone who knows me would tell you that I do not cry easily or often. I’m so happy for you and hope you enjoy meeting the new members of your family.

    Posted by danielleshe | February 22, 2013, 1:59 pm
  9. Hi Terri – I’m so happy for you. And I’m sure you’ll be meeting your new half brothers and all of the new relatives soon. We saw each other at the band reunion a few years back, but prior to that we haven’t seen each other for years. I’m glad that we were able to reconnect through FB and your blog. It allowed me to read about your journey. All that you may have been worried about….is now in the passed. Relax and enjoy.

    Posted by Mike Colaluca | February 22, 2013, 12:27 pm
  10. Get a family tree chart online and use it to help fill in the new relatives as you meet them. I am so excited and happy for both of you!! And you do look more alike standing next to each other than in photos separately. Isn’t that fantastic?!

    Posted by Karen Waggoner | February 22, 2013, 12:18 pm
  11. It’s just so wonderful Terri. Congratulations!!!

    Posted by Denise Romanello Buonocore | February 22, 2013, 11:20 am
  12. I’m tearing up as I read this. I’m so happy for you. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Posted by Tammy | February 22, 2013, 9:31 am
  13. I, too, was reunited with my biological daughter. I found her on an adoption registry page on 8/8/2011. However, we did not meet until this past year (Christmas Day). It was a long, emotional day, but she texted me later and told me she thought I was pretty cool, and she couldn’t wait for us to hang out again. Her adoptive parents actually flew into town to surprise her and her adoptive sister for the holidays, so I got to meet them as well.

    Posted by Debbie Jackson | February 22, 2013, 9:17 am
  14. So very happy for you. It’s nice to not be a secret any longer.

    Treasure your siblings and cousins; I’ve found they are the ones who make you feel that you truly belong.

    Posted by Laura Schwartz | February 22, 2013, 9:09 am
  15. How wonderful! Just warms my heart and brings tears to my eyes every time I look at your picture and remember the years we have known you and shared your search. Thank you for letting us be part of this most precious and personal segment of your journey. As you enter into new relationships and new dynamics, we will look forward to continuing to be a part of your life – we have grown to love and appreciate you very much.

    And please ask Pat to support the adoptee rights bills in the NY Legislature so that we can get OBCs restored to adopted persons and many thousands more will have a chance at finding their truth and possible family relationships as you have.

    Lovin’ hugs,

    Posted by Priscilla Sharp | February 22, 2013, 9:06 am
    • Pris — what can I say? Thank you for sticking with the journey all this time. You didn’t give up, even when I was ready to. I’m privileged to know you and remain in awe of all you give, every day, to help adoptees and parents find each other. ((hugs))

      Posted by Terri S. Vanech | February 22, 2013, 7:16 pm
  16. Terri, what a gift that your original family was able to welcome you this way. I am so happy for you (and just a little bit envious — wish my first mother could have progressed beyond the secret stage)! May I tell some of your story in a future blog post — and share some quotes from your blog?

    Posted by Susan Perry | February 22, 2013, 9:05 am
  17. Dear Terri, What a wonderful beginning.! I look forward to hearing more as things progress. Thank you for sharing all this with us. Its wonderful to hear and read. I am so happy for you. And your wonderful new family members that will get to know you. Sincerely, Joan

    Posted by joannyadopteesj | February 22, 2013, 8:07 am
  18. Another big “whew” – I found myself holding my breath as I read and now I’m breathing again. Reia

    Posted by reiadm | February 22, 2013, 8:05 am

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