...and it's something I've wanted to say for years now.
My mother gave a son up for adoption when she was 16. I've known about it since I was 13, when I was sitting in my room one afternoon eavesdropping on a conversation my parents were supposed to be having privately -- yes, I was a nosy child. Aren't most genealogists?
I can remember being so surprised by the revelation that I wasn't the first child my mother had ever had! I think that was the first time I can remember being able to fathom that my parents had lives before me. It was a pretty important lesson.
Of course, I've spent the intervening years hoping that someday this son would begin a search for his birth mother. When I first began talking about it with my mother, she seemed at once very desirious of some sort of connection and then very hesitant to pursue it. I can't pretend to understand the feelings that are involved when someone gives up their child but I could hear some of them in my mom's voice. She was so young and there were so many deeply personal and extenuating circumstances in her ultimate choice to place him for adoption. In all the years that have followed she's wanted to find him -- she always said the hole in your heart never goes away -- but there was also a fear there that haunted her. He just didn't want him to hate her for the decision she made.
Some years back I helped her fill out paperwork to place her name in the Illinois registries but when it got caught up in a few snafus she never completed the process. I wanted her to -- and she wanted to -- but the fear was still overwhelming the desire. As a genealogist I felt I had the tools at my disposal to help the process of finding him go faster, and the fact that he was my half-brother and my blood definitely spurred my own desire to know....but you know.....it simply wasn't my call. It was hers. She had to be ready and I wasn't going to force anything until she was.
Well, as I posted recently, Illinois adoption laws changed late last year. I posted it here because when the laws changed I brought the subject up to my mother again and added that the new laws would make it easier for adopted children in Illinois to obtain their original birth certificates. I wanted her to know that it was very possible those changes would allow her son a better chance to find her.
So on the 25th, when I got a vague email enquiring about my mother.....I just knew.
Of course I called her immediately and explained. Though the possibility existed that it was one of her half-siblings (her mother remarried and had 5 children with her second husband that we have only met once back in the mid 70s) both of us didn't really think that it was that. When I asked her if she'd like to think a few days before I answered the email she told me, "No. You go ahead and respond. If I think for a few days I'll chicken out. You do it."
So I did.
It's still way too early in this process of discovery to guess about how things will settle out. So far he seems like a good man, who has risen over difficulties and made a good life for himself. I had a good phone call with him and I look forward to getting to know him better. I've waited a long time for this and I don't feel the need to rush it now.
But I'm not "big sissy" any more. I'm the middle child. And ya know....I don't think I'm going to mind.
39 minutes ago