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Adoption, Family

Getting to know me

My kid brother, Chris; and me, meeting for the first time in April.

My kid brother, Chris; and me, meeting for the first time in April.

Yesterday, some folks from Goose Creek, NC, piled into their car for the first leg of their trip to New York.

A couple from Kennesaw, GA, made copies of old family photos and started their trip north today.

Several others from various points of the map are also putting other of life’s obligations on hold so they, too, can be on Long Island by Saturday.

To meet me.


My “new” brother, Chris, and his wife are hosting a BBQ Saturday to introduce me to the family.

As in January, when I first spoke with my first mother, Pat, I am reeling with a mix of emotions too complicated to explain, let alone process.

They are coming to meet me.

Holy crap!

Of course I’m a nervous wreck.

What if they think I’m weird?

Or stupid?

What if they don’t like me at all?

Last weekend, at my godson’s graduation, I marveled that I knew the family dynamic there like the back of my hand. His mom, Jacquie, and I have known each other 29 (eek!) years, after all.

And of course I know how the dynamics of the Salvatores and Vaneches. I know when to keep quiet, where my opinion is welcomed or should be quashed (most of the time), whose politics are what, who can laugh at himself and who can’t take a joke. …

Here I’m walking into a clean slate. We all share DNA, but that’s about all I know. They only know about me what they’ve read here, or what Pat or Chris have shared. Still, they’ve given me a warm, hearty virtual welcome. Facebook is full of sunny messages filled with anticipation for the weekend.

Chris says I’m not allowed to say it’s weird.

“Just be yourself,” several friends have counseled as I fretted about what to wear, what to say, etc. They all have quickly added that I will certainly be loved.

I’m not so sure.

Ply Basil with the right amount of beer and he might admit that to know me is not to always love me (Catherine requires no nudging to give you the low-down!).

I am brusque and sometimes blunt. Impatient, relentless and occasionally overbearing (stop laughing!). Although I have a (very offbeat) sense of humor, I am all too serious much of the time, often quiet, stoic even.

What’s more, I worked as a journalist for more than two decades because I am far more comfortable as a fly on the wall than I am being the center of attention or even just socializing.

Worst of all, I tend to talk first and think later.

If one thing gets me in trouble time and again, it is my mouth.

I can’t help but worry: What if I’ve really stuck my foot in it this time?

Thanks to the help of a wonderful circle of search angels, I’ve found Pat and her family despite sealed documents and a New York state law that said I wasn’t allowed to ever know her. I stuck with the search for years, even when it seemed I might not ever know.

I rocked the boat many people urged me to leave untouched for everyone else’s sake (did I mention relentless?).

And here I stand on the threshold of finally getting a lifetime of questions answered, of understanding who I am ย and where I fit.

Wish me luck.

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.


15 thoughts on “Getting to know me

  1. Just AMAZING. WHAT a journey it’s been for you. (I grew up in NYC, btw.)

    xxx Diana

    Posted by Holistic Wayfarer | June 27, 2013, 12:45 am
  2. Best of Luck Terri. I’m sure it’s going to be a wonderful day and everyone is going to love you. Enjoy!!!

    Posted by Mike Colaluca | June 21, 2013, 12:34 pm
  3. You will be fine! They will either love you right away, or learn to love you. You didn’t always know the dynamics of Jacquie’s family — or Basil’s. You will learn. Ask Chris for some hints — though he may see his family differently. Pat and Chris love and accept you; everyone else is gravy!

    And we’ll all be thinking of you. We’ll hang out on the wall watching out for you.
    Hugs, k

    Posted by Karen Waggoner | June 20, 2013, 11:58 am
  4. Terri, It will be an amazing weekend and you will walk away knowing that not only do you fit in, but you are also loved! Have a great time!

    Posted by Pat Snider | June 20, 2013, 8:45 am
  5. Terri, how could anyone not love your self-depreciating sense of humor? I know you only through your writing, and I would love to meet you! Your first family sounds very warm and open.

    Posted by Susan Perry | June 20, 2013, 8:09 am
  6. I’m sure it will go great. I always get nervous before things too, I get very anxious! I bet you will look back and have nothing but positive memories once you actually get together.

    Posted by Foodie in WV | June 20, 2013, 7:57 am
  7. I wish I could be there for you as someone who has an idea of what it’s like to walk in your shoes. Chris’s comment about not calling it “weird” only pushes us verbose ones to a thesaurus to even try to describe the myriad of feelings going on beneath the calm, cool exterior. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m hoping for the best and will echo that showing them who you are is why they are all coming. I’ll bet that you’ll have more in common than you now imagine. Can’t wait to get together soon and swap stories!! xo

    Posted by Susanne Peterson Larkham | June 20, 2013, 7:43 am
  8. Oh Terri, To know you is to love you. If your “new” family gives it 5 minutes, they will love you as much as the rest of the world does! Think not about what makes you human, (imperfect), but about what makes you so extraordinary. Have a glorious day!

    Posted by Abbie Carroll Wilson | June 20, 2013, 7:09 am

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