Some people celebrate their 50th birthdays by jumping out of airplanes.
I belatedly marked mine in a similarly adventurous way, minus the parachute and clouds zooming by: Yesterday, I met my natural father.
I’m an adoptee. Three years ago I found my first mother and an extended family that welcomed me with open arms. Still, I had to know the rest of my story.
Earlier this month, I learned my father’s name. It took only a quick Google search to find him living nearby.
I hesitated briefly: Should I call or leave it be? Try to get the remaining answers to questions I’ve asked for a lifetime? Or retreat to that old default, setting my needs and wants aside rather than make waves?
Turns out I’m a “go big or go home” kind of girl. Who knew?
And I needn’t have worried. He embraced me immediately.
You see, he had been wondering for 50 years, too.
Over pizza yesterday, we began the process of connecting, filling in gaps, learning about each other, searching for features and personality traits that match.
As was the case when I found my first mother, I’m awash in emotions, many of which I can’t name or quite understand. It will take time to absorb and process it all.
I have no idea what my “new normal” will be; what other things I’ll learn about my origins and roots; or how my reunions will progress.
But once and for all I will know. I will no longer need to guess or wonder about my origins, ethnicity, medical history or any of the other things most folks take for granted.
It’s hard to articulate just how important this is to me.
Here beyond the shadows of five decades’ worth of secrets and lies, I can finally begin to see myself not as someone’s mistake, shame, or problem to manage, but for the full sum of who I am, shaped both by nature and nurture, and honed by a tenaciousness and drive all my very own.