I received a Facebook message in 2010 from my 1/2 biological sister whom hadn’t spoken to me in over 13 years. Not by my choosing, she shut me out and I still to this day have no idea why she is the way she is. Not only did my birth mother not want anything to do with me, but after I found and was reunited with my birth sister she too shut me out. I never understood because when I first found her, she was ecstatic she had a long lost sister she said she always dreamed of. She invited me to be in her wedding, our children met one another, and it was the first time in my life I felt a true connection with someone with the same blood as me ever in my life. I can’t tell you the sense of joy I had knowing I had a big sister, that I could look up too, get advice from, be close with, and share stories with.
After a few years of meeting her as I would reach out she wouldn’t reach back. Over and over I would try to keep in touch, and she wouldn’t return my calls, letters, emails nothing. This honestly broke my heart a million times, and I never understood WHY. I always thought I did something to offend her, or upset her but I didn’t know what. I was clueless.
Not many years before my birth mother passed away I had basically given up hope that we would ever have the relationship I always dreamed we would have. That dream I had sense I was a little girl, sense the day I found out I was adopted. I knew at this point nothing was going to give, but in the back of my mind I think I always had that sense of “Maybe one day she will come around”. I never stopped thinking about her, or praying for her, or wondering what she was doing, especially around my birthday time.
But my birth sister, I never gave up hope, so when I got this inbox message saying my birth mother passed away, I was not only shocked but I was beyond hurt that I had to find out in a Facebook message. My birth sister hadn’t spoke to me in 13 years! She was acting as if our relationship was where it left off 13 years ago. As if the last 13 years went by and I hadn’t tried to reach out to her a million times, and she shut the door in my face, just like my birth mother did. They have no idea how that has hurt me over the years, and words can’t even describe it. Not only did I feel out of place growing up in a house full of strangers, but the biological roots I dreamed of my whole life didn’t even want me around. They didn’t want to know me, love me or have me in their lives. THIS HURT and still does.
When I got the Facebook message my immediate response was angry. I was so angry that she told me the way she did! After a few hours when my anger subsided a bit, I realized that in true honesty she didn’t have to contact me at all. I had to try to pull something positive out of this. In her facebook message she expressed how she really wanted me to be there, and she didn’t think she could do it without me. I had a decision. I could either go, be there for her, and perhaps find some more information out about my birth father whom I also always dreamed about knowing, I could find out more information about my birth mother, and meet some of her life long friends, and meet some more of my biological family OR I could stay home and wish I had went.
After making some arrangements with my job, and for my kids off to Iowa I go. I started off on a 10 hour drive, all alone. Something about taking road trips are always so refreshing but not this time. I was nervous, sad, anxious, and I surly didn’t know what the next few days were going to hold. I was just praying, and talking to God the whole entire way for him to help shine his light on me because I knew I was going to need it to get through the next few days.
Soon I was to arrive in Iowa at my adopted mothers house. It is no secret to anyone in my life that we have never EVER gotten along. We are like night and day, and there has never been a time in my life where I feel close to her, or have a bond with her a mother and daughter are supposed to have. I just all the way missed out on that in life. She is a very different person, and after being almost 40 years old I have come to the conclusion that she is mentally sick, and she is a very ill person. She should have never been given the right to adopt a child, let alone two. She wasn’t and still isn’t capable of being a mother. I will never understand how a couple ends up adopting two children, divorcing a year later leaving these two adopted children to be raised in a very dysfunctional home, by a woman whom doesn’t have the capabilities, strength, guidance or understanding to raise children!
After being at my adopted mothers for a hour or so, we decided to take a trip to the grocery store. I was going to stay all night at her house, then leave very early the next morning to drive to Waterloo, Iowa where my birth mother lived. This is where her funeral was going to be held. I was really a nervous wreck. While we were at the grocery something in me decided I wanted to search for my birth mothers obituary online via my cell phone. When I start searching for something, or someone Its crazy but I get frantic almost obsessed until I find what I’m looking for! I think character trait has a big part on me searching and finding my biological family all on my own. I was obsessed with finding them, and I was never going to give up until I saw them all, even if it meant getting shot by showing up on my birth fathers property unannounced! I was going to find them.
As I Google searching for the obituary, walking around in circles in the grocery store waiting on my adopted mom to take her time shopping, (One of our many differences, she takes all day to shop! I get in and get out!) I finally found the obituary. As I started to read it, my heart started racing more and more. I couldn’t even believe what I was reading. SHE DIDN’T LIST ME ANYWHERE! NO WHERE! SHE DOESN’T HAVE JUST ONE CHILD! SHE WAS A LIER! THIS OBITUARY WAS A LIE! I AM HER DAUGHTER TOO, AND SHE HAS 3 OTHER GRANDKIDS AND WE ARE ALIVE. I DROVE ALL THE WAY TO IOWA TO BE AT HER FUNERAL BUT THEY COULDN’T EVEN LIST ME IN THE OBITUARY OR MY CHILDREN! I WAS SO MAD AND HURT!
I immediately started to cry in the middle of the grocery store. Of course I felt I had to hide it from my adoptive mother, because she just wouldn’t understand. So I kept walking around the store, trying to hide my tears from all the people walking by me. I know that some people might not understand the big deal, or why I was feeling the way I was feeling but when you spend a lifetime fantasizing, dreaming and wishing, and wondering about the very woman that created you, and gave you away to have a “better life” but she doesn’t even list you in her obituary it hurt really bad, and cut like a knife. My mind goes back there, to that time in my life and I still cry thinking about it. I don’t understand how someone can give their child away, and act as if they didn’t even exist. I will never understand it.
After I finally got myself together in the grocery, I would soon see my adoptive mother again. She knew by the tears in my eyes something was wrong. She asked, and I told her. I started to cry again. I just walked away from her and told her I would be in the car. In no way did I want her sappy ass rubbing me on my back making it worse! She always made everything worse!
Soon the very next morning had arrived, and it was time to set out on my hour long drive to the very city where I was born, and given away. To the very city my biological mother, and half of my biological family lived. It was a very bitter sweet drive, and time in my life. Something about discovery of your roots, and where you come from is almost eerie to me, and I have done all this alone and I can look back now and rejoice that I had a relationship (And still do) with God, my higher power for hugging me and holding me the entire way. I’m blessed and thankful for that.
My birth sister and her husband moved from Iowa to Arkansas, so they too had to travel back to Iowa for the funeral.I arrive at the hotel where my birth sister and her husband and kids were staying I was a nervous wreck. I hadn’t seen her in ALONG time! I hadn’t talked to her in 13 years, but I hadn’t seen her in about 16 years. I parked my car, and head in to the hotel. Knock on her hotel door, and see her face, and we gave each other a big hug. It was great to see her, and I realized that I couldn’t focus on the past, and be upset with her that for whatever reason she shut me out for the last 13 years. I was still hurt, but I had to make a decision to not focus on that. She expressed to me how bad she wanted me there, and how thankful she was that I came. I got to hug and see my niece and nephew, one I had never met before. I was very excited about that, but yet I was deep down very sad that so many years had passed and they really didn’t even know me. It’s not my fault and if I had it my way It wouldn’t be like that. I would have never been separated from any of them ever if I had it my way. I would have grown up in the same house as her, and we would have been close sisters growing up. She gave me a card, and we all headed over to the funeral home for my biological mothers visitation.
The card was an apology for her being absent for the last 13 years. She was very nice in the card, and she expressed how she was sorry that this tragic event is what brought us together again. She said in the past, I was the one to reach out and she failed. She hoped this would be a new beginning to our relationship. I was happy about the card, and I was happy I was getting to see her, and spend some time with her. I was deeply saddened that so much time had passed, and I really didn’t know when I was going to see her again. Was it going to be another 13 years?
My birth sister and my birth mother hadn’t spoke in over 3 years. So I wasn’t the only person they didn’t reach out too. They didn’t even reach out for each other. My birth sister said many times that my birth mother was an alcoholic. She said after her and her husband and children left Iowa, they went back for a visit at Christmas time only for my birth mother to not open the door for her, or her children on Christmas morning. I really don’t know the whole story, or my birth mothers reasoning, but I am sure my birth sister had a very good reason for being upset with her. A long drive from Arkansas to Iowa and your own mother doesn’t open the door? Shame on her. I would be furious too. I can’t say what I would do, but she didn’t speak to her for 3 years. When she did have contact with her again, it would be to bury her.
We soon set out to head to the funeral home. I really didn’t know what to expect. I know from the moment I walked in there, to the time I left I felt so out of place. I knew my birth sister wanted me there, but there is no way my birth mother wanted me there. I was her best kept secret. I knew this for certain. We went in for the viewing. I was shocked at what I saw. My birth mother that was in her mid 60’s and looked as if she was much older. She was wearing a blue jean button up Christmas shirt, glasses and had a few rings on her fingers. She was always lean and long. Her fingers looked like my fingers. I wanted so bad to ask if I could have one of her rings on her fingers, but I didn’t dare. After all I felt as if I was a nobody. I really would to have loved it for sentimental reasons. I had nothing of hers, absolutely nothing. Nothing but a broken heart from this woman. Time after time, and year after year I wanted on her calls, mail, only to receive broken promises after broken promises.
As we sat in the front row, I sat right next to my birth sister. I really felt like her husband should be sitting by her but I respect the fact that she let me sit next to her, and that she acknowledged the fact that I was her daughter too, and I had every right to be there just like she did.
My birth mother planned her service out down to the very last minute. She had someone get up and speak about her life, and some of the things she loved. Rod Stewart, Nascar, Elvis, and some other things. He spoke about her daughter, Joanna and her 3 grand kids from Arkansas. I honestly sat there and wept not only because I was deeply saddened, but because she once again didn’t acknowledge that I was her daughter. Some of you might say, “Well DUH Pamela! She gave you away! You were no longer her daughter!”. You would think it wouldn’t be so hard for me to just “GET IT”, or “GET OVER IT”, but I will never forget that time in my life when they clearly made me feel as if I was nothing. I wonder if she knew how much pain she caused me? I wonder if she even cared? People shouldn’t have to go through life being rejected and denied from the very people that created them.
This is the song that she had requested be played at her funeral. I will never in my life forget this song. I cry every time I hear it, and can’t help but wonder what part of her giving me up for adoption had an impact of her and her life, and this song. If you listen to the words, (please do!) you will understand what I’m talking about. Was I one of the many regrets she is speaking about? I stayed around after the service, so I could meet some of her friends, and some biological family. It was really hard to get through this time in my life. I was thankful I had my birth sister there, but yet she was still so far away. I didn’t know any of those people. My birth sister kept introducing me as “This is my sister, my mom gave up for adoption!”. I really didn’t know what to think, but I was thankful she was even introducing me at all. I had to be thankful I was even there at all because she didn’t have to invite me, or tell me if she didn’t want too. As I got to know some of my birth mothers friends, they all expressed to me how stubborn she was, and how she was very strong willed. She was set in her ways, and no matter what in life she did it her way!
I met my birth mothers best friend, and she knew my birth mother the time she was pregnant with me. She said she remembers her giving me up for adoption. No way did anyone at the funeral try to console me, and what I was going through. I don’t think any of them understood my pain at all. I asked her if she knew any information about my biological father, but she declined. I asked her if she drank when she was pregnant with me, and she said, “Honey I never saw her without a drink in her hand”. I guess I’m supposed to be grateful for that just like I am that I’m adopted. I spoke to a few other people, and met a biological aunt. One aunt that I had met the first time I met my birth mother wasn’t there. I asked about her, but everyone said she was sick, and couldn’t come. I asked my birth sister if we could go visit her, because I realized this might be my last chance at finding out more information about my biological father. On the way to her house I asked my birth sister if we could go by my birth mothers house. She said, “Oh you don’t want to go over there!”. I said, “Yes, I do, I really do”. Off we go.
When my birth mother died, she passed away from alcoholism, and COPD. She smoked, and was on oxygen, and she was an alcoholic all at the same time. These are the things that killed her. I believe alcoholism is what really killed her. Everyone at her funeral said for the last few years of her life, she wouldn’t let anyone in her house, NO ONE. The neighbors would come to bring her food, or try to help her shovel snow in the winter, or help her with a leaking roof and her response to everyone that came to her door was ” GET THE HELL OUTTA HERE!”. I had no idea what to expect when we arrived at her house. I remember walking up to the front door, her house almost looked like a little cottage but you could tell it had some major repairs that needed done, but you didn’t really see it until you walked inside. Her front door had broken glass through the front window, and she had news paper, and duct tape and a piece of plastic over it to keep the cold out. As we walked in I just got such an eerie feeling. This was the house that my birth mother lived in for many many years. It wasn’t the house she was pregnant with me at, but it was the house that my birth sister grew up in. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw how dusty everything was. The dust was literally an inch thick. I looked over to the left, and saw another broken window covered just like the other one. Also to the left was about 6 oxygen tanks, all empty. She had papers and clutter all over her dining room table, and hutch. As you walked in further I saw the couch that she was found on. The old dusty mantel, and drapes matched the couch. The whole place looked like a scene from a 1975 movie. NOTHING WAS UPDATED! Everything was so old, and dusty. It was filthy, and the floor was covered with garbage, and junk. The carpet looked like it was 30 years old, and I’m not even kidding. It was so cold in there, and I will never forget the feeling I got when I was in her house. It was so dark, and dingy. Complete filth couldn’t even touch it. I saw a little green paper weight on her coffee table, shaped like a small elephant. I kindly asked my birth sister if she cared if I have it. She said, “Sure take it”. This small paper weight is the only thing I will ever own that was my birth mothers. My birth sister took me through the house, and it’s hard for me to explain the feeling I got. After we noticed no running water, and rat droppings all over, we decided it was time to go. That house should have been condemned in my opinion.
Some people might be saying,”WOW- and you aren’t HAPPY she gave you up for adoption?”. NO, No I’m not. I would have taken my birth mother any way she came. I would have loved to be with my biological roots, even if she made mistakes as a mother, I would have forgiven her. All of her mistakes and errors in life wouldn’t change the fact that she gave birth to me. I will never stop thinking about her, or wishing I knew her. I will always love the woman I never got to know.
After we left my birthmothers house, we headed over to visit my aunt for a few minutes. When we arrived the house was filled with smoke, and we could smell that she had been smoking. Its amazing that the crazy part is she looked at both of us and said “I quit smoking awhile back”.. Even thoe we smelled right through that lie. This was my birthmothers sister. She was also a smoker, and on oxygen suffereing from COPD which is what my birth mother died from. After we visited a few minutes, I got up enough nerve to ask her if she knew who my birth father was. I thought I had nothing to loose. She ended up giving me a name, and told me a little about my birth father. Now I recieved confirmation who he was and where he lived. A month after visiting my biological aunt she passed away from COPD. I look back and I’m in awe the way God set it up. Not that I wanted her to die, but he let me find out my confirming information about my birthfather before she passed away, and it meant so much to me to be able to see her one last time.
Leaving Waterloo, Iowa was a bitter sweet moment for me, but so was my experience after I drove to my birthfathers door step. Leaving Iowa on this trip I made a very brave decision. I could either drive back to Kentucky and never see who my birth father was, or I could drive 3 hours out of the way and show up at his door step and introduce myself. I was able to receive some confirming information while I was in Waterloo about my birth father. I prayed, and God answered my prayers. I drove 3 hours out of the way to his house, but I only stayed 45 minutes. I left Leon, Iowa and my life would never be the same.