Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Story for Sunday-Part 8

Back again, by founders Brillig and Kate. Hosted today here.

Part 7 of my story is here. It will lead you to the previous posts.

The Meeting.

Joe was on a plane. He was finally on his way to meet his birth family. A few months earlier his uncle had contacted him. He had spoken with Joe's godparents. They had managed to contact his birth family. His birth mother had been out of town until just the last month so it had taken a while to be able to call her. She agreed to meet him if he promised he understood that his adoptive mom was still his mom. He was told that his birth father had been killed in a construction accident. He found out he had a brother AND a sister! He was so thrilled! He was so anxious to meet them and see what they were like. He felt an immense amount of love towards these people he never knew. He wondered what they would have in common. He always felt different from the rest of his family. Maybe he wouldn't feel that way any more. He would always love his own family, that would never change, but now he just had more people to love. He hoped they would like him too. What if they didn't? "Nah, what's there to hate?" he thought. So many questions he had for them. What would they look like? Would he recognize them? What would they be like? What would he learn about his biological family? There was so much to learn. It was mind boggling, it was exhilarating, it was nerve wracking, it was surreal!
He didn't know what to do with his pent up energy and emotion. They would be in Santiago soon. He felt the plane was smothering him.
Finally it landed and he was the first one off. He met a friend who drove him out to his aunt's house. There he was hugged and fed and talked to, but as happy as he was to see everyone, he was ready to get past the pleasantries to the object of his visit. After a bit of a rest, he anxiously freshened up and was on his way to the home of his birth family. It was a small home on a very crowded hillside in a not so nice neighborhood.
A very anxious woman who looked not too much older than himself opened the door, took one look at him, smiled and threw her arms around him. It was his sister! He was hugging his sister, the sister he never had! Everything was going to be alright, he was home. They hugged and they cried, then they looked at each other and laughed. They were definitely siblings. You could see the resemblance in their eyes. She invited him in, and introduced her children. She had two grown boys, one 19 one 17. One had curly hair, one straight. Her daughter was 13. She was older, darker and had curlier hair than his own daughter, but the resemblance to his own child was striking. He couldn't get over it. It was incredible! Fresia's husband wasn't home, but her mother was next door where she lived with Willy.
They went over to see her. Willy was at work, but his wife and son were home with Iris. She seemed drawn, somewhat sad, and nervously wrung a handkerchief in her hands. She stood up, looked at him, trying to take in this person before her, then she looked in his eyes and started to cry. He rushed to hug her. She sobbed out, "I'm sorry! I'm so very sorry!" Joe reassured her, "It's OK, you don't have to be sorry." Much later his brother came home. He looked old, oddly he seemed older than Fresia. He looked pretty beat after a long day of work. He walked over and hugged Joe and then just stared at him with his hands stuffed in his pants pockets. He seemed jumpy and didn't know what to do or say. They sat and began to talk. His emotions were much more guarded. Or stifled might be a better word. Joe was sure there was a sea of conflicting emotions and he could feel their undercurrent. He knew the shock he had when he found out Joe existed. He tried to ease the tension. They sat down to eat, they relaxed and things got a little easier. And thus began a three week journey.

It had been an emotional 3 weeks. His birth mother couldn't relax. She apologized at least 400 times. He reassured her. She was hard to get to talk. She was timid. He hadn't expected that. He tried to get her to open up more. He told her about his life, frankly, the good and the bad. He was raised only a few miles away from her. She couldn't believe it. She said if she'd known what his life was going to be, what it turned out to be, she wouldn't have let him go. She was mortified. He reassured her again. He didn't blame anyone. Life wasn't perfect, but it was all OK now. Everything had worked out. He tried to get to know her better, he tried to get her to relax. It was slow going. She told some about her own family. He learned that she had a cousin who was a "famous serial killer", but in reality, after he was supposedly put to death he was really sent to Miami. The real killer was institutionalized. His father was a wealthy and influential person, so they had payed her cousin off to take the fall. Interesting. He did get a sketchy medical history on her family, she wasn't that informed. Her family was a bitter pill. He wanted to meet them, and a few of them agreed to meet him, but her father refused. The rejection stung.
He tried to get Iris to tell him about his birth father, but she clammed up. He wanted to know about his progenitor and his family, but it was a no go. She told a little about what their relationship had been like, including some details he could have lived without knowing, but other than that, she was a closed book. Just drop it, she insisted. It's not good to dredge up the past. By the end of his stay, Joe wasn't even sure who his father had been or if he was alive or dead, if he knew Joe existed or not. Some things seemed destined to remain an enigma. He was really disappointed. Truth be known, he had hoped deep down that she would fill a missing void, the pieces that were missing in his relationship with his own mom. She didn't. He felt alone.
As he talked to his sister, her relationship with her mom was practically a carbon copy of his relationship with his own mom. It was freaky, really. They were so much alike. Within the hour, his sister had become fast friends with him. They looked at family pictures, talked about their idiosyncrasies, which they mostly shared. Dogs follow you too? Do you have to smell everything you look at in the store too? When you get an idea in your head that you want something, you obsess until you get it? It went on and on. He got to know her and her family better than anyone. They were inseparable. He got along so naturally with her husband and sons and he adored Fresia's daughter Renee. Her personality was so much like his own daughter, so willful, noisy, off the wall, it just made him laugh! So this is what it will be like when she's a teenager, he thought. He talked for hours on end with Fresia and they accompanied each other on errands. By the time he had to go home, they knew everything about each other's lives. They had caught up on all the lost years. The brother-sister void had been completely filled. Old wounds had healed there for his sister too. She felt happier than she had in a very long time. She adored her little brother.
His brother confused him a little. He really tried to develop a brother relationship with him, like with his sister, but it was hard. He knew Willy had always wanted a brother, so why was it harder to get to know each other? It didn't help that his workload was heavy so he couldn't be around much. It didn't help that he was still grieving everything he'd lost. He'd sort of walked into the wake of an emotional tsunami and he knew his brother and birth mother were still working on cleaning up the damage. Or sweeping it in a corner. It just made him ache that he wasn't going to be able to give his brother back what he lost. Willy didn't seem to be emotionally ready to move on to the joy of finding a brother yet. He seemed to share his mom's more reserved personality anyhow. Maybe he just didn't know how to get to know him. Maybe it would just take time.
He spent the nights and some days at his aunt's home. He shared with them what was happening, but they just told him not to get so attached to his birth family. There were a lot of things he didn't know about them yet. They could hurt him. They were defensive. They were trying to be supportive, but they really didn't understand why he needed any more family than them. He often ended the day depressed. When he didn't have anything planned with anyone, he got bored. It was a wonderful, but exhausting trip. He missed his family at home. He called them all the time. He complained that he couldn't stand how long he had to be there. Home was with the family he'd formed, really. He didn't truly belong anywhere else.
The day to leave finally arrived, and Fresia went to the airport to see him off. This was the only hard part about leaving. They clung to each other till he had to get on the plane and go. They promised to keep in touch. And thus ends our tale. As they say in Chile: Colorin, colorado, el cuento se ha acabado.


Joe still loves his family and they still love him. His mom found out the whole thing from her sister the next time she went to Chile a year later. It was drama, drama, drama, but she didn't disown anyone and eventually she got over the whole thing. She has Alzheimers now and has forgotten it ever happened. She is finally at peace. Joe was relieved when he didn't have to keep the secret anymore. he told his friends, and a funny side note is that they were so relieved to find out that their mutual friend who saw him at the airport wasn't seeing him having an affair with what turned out to be his sister! :) The extended family are all cool with his birth family at this point, as long as they don't have to see them or anything. They see it hasn't hurt them that Joe knows them. They might not admit that too readily though. Joe never found out more about his birth father. If he could ever even just see a picture of him, he would feel satisfied. Since that may never happen, he just moves on. His brother went through terrible emotional issues for a few years after Joe's visit. After hitting rock bottom, he got into rehab and religion and has worked through lots of issues. His relationship with his mom is better now and he is doing well with his family. He rarely has contact with Joe, but they both have accepted the past and each other. Joe's birth mother has had some health problems but still gets around pretty good. Joe has pretty much given up on having a direct relationship with her as any information comes through his sister. He still stays in contact with his sister and her family. Her children all have children of their own now and are all doing well. This story isn't simple, nor does it have a perfect ending, but bottom line, if Joe could do it all over again, he would choose to do it the same. He's glad he met his birth family.

Editor's note (that's me, not much of an editor, but I come cheap):
This is a true story as best I can relate it. I know the characters personally. The names were changed out of respect for the characters since it is a private part of their lives. "Joe" is my husband. We've both learned a lot as he went on this journey. Sometimes both his mothers have frustrated me, but I feel like I can understand them too. I feel they both did the best they could with what they got. I don't judge them at this point for anything.
I feel all birth mothers deserve our undying respect and gratitude no matter what their choices or attitudes or motives; first, for having survived what was an unimaginable ordeal no matter how it played out, and foremost, for having given the gift of life to another person. They could have made a very different choice. They are probably the ones who end up on the short end of the stick. No matter what their failings, they made a huge sacrifice.
I feel adoptive mothers also deserve a hand. They come in all forms, and all degrees of preparation for the task of motherhood, just like any other mom. It seems to me unthinkable that anyone wouldn't easily make the choice to become a precious child's mother, but many people really can't wrap their minds around the idea I've found. Not only do adoptive mothers go through everything all mothers do, the issues adoption brings into their child's life bring on extra challenges along the way. Many find after yearning for their child for years, and loving them with all their hearts, they get the brunt of the anger when their child has a hard time dealing with the loss of the birth mother, often when they're teenagers. Usually this doesn't last forever, but it must seem like it. They deserve lots of love as well.
Adopted children have a lot to process too. It isn't easy. Often they are pegged as ungrateful and their feelings are terribly misunderstood. It is a big decision to seek out your birth family. Some decide to do it, and others don't. Anyone embarking on the journey would best be prepared for just about any scenario and expect some pain along with the joy, or joy along with the pain or who knows?? Adoption isn't a perfect cure all institution, but it is a wonderful miracle if you ask me and so very often beats any other alternative. It takes courage on all sides. I see it as just one way God hooks us up with one another in this incredible journey called life. I am truly grateful for all the birth parents, adoptive parents, adoptive children and birth children in my life.
Now it's really the end.


Theresa said...

I have to tell you I haven't read this...or the other 7 parts. Not that I won't some day! Thanks for the comments about motherhood. My mother always gets a kick out of that last line. She knows it's true. Have a great Sunday. I have church and a Chuckee party...I need church before those parties!

Anonymous said...

Great story. What a gift for your husband.

Victoria said...

Thanks for sharing your husband's story. It must be very strange to try to find your birthfamily and have some kind of relationship with them. I can't imagine.

Brillig said...

I imagined that this story was close to home for you. What a roller coaster ride! Thanks for sharing this. Love it!

Burgh Baby said...

This has been some great reading. Thanks for sharing the whole story!

Carrie and Troy Keiser said...

Enjoyed the story! Thanks for the editor's note! Enjoyed your adoption comments.

Unknown said...

hi there, really enjoyed reading this, although haven't yet made all 8 parts yet! And thanks for all your lovely comments on mine. Elsie x

Fourier Analyst said...

Your children are going to really appreciate these stories some day. I expect it is not an easy tale for your husband to tell, and your method of doing it from different perspectives brings such a wonderful balance to the whole story and such love is shown by those going through some really hard times. Thanks for sharing with us. I know it has been a great journey for you and your husband.