I’ve known my birth parents for less than a year – approximately eight months.
Back in June 2014, with an encouraging push from family and friends, I began a self search for my biological mother (and more). My decision was easy. I never felt any type of anxiety, bitterness or hurt about my adoption. My new search process was solely based on three questions I always wondered: Do I look like her? Is she physically okay? Is she mentally and emotionally okay with her decision to place me for adoption – almost 30 years ago?
That last one has always stuck with me. I’ve lived quite the life here in Minnesota, and if she’s resentful about her decision, well… then I need to find her and make sure she knows how full and well I have lived. She needs to know how much I am loved and she needs to hear it from me. End story.
I spent countless hours researching how to go about such the biological search process. It’s not everyday you try and piece together a decision made 27 years ago with slim to no material at hand due to a closed adoption. With the limited material I had, I began by contacting agencies, state employees, fellow adoptees, adoption advocates, search databases and even other biological parents who had relinquished a child for adoption. Each step I thought I had something, I was usually pulled back another two steps or simply left empty handed.
However, after eight months, a blog, a Facebook page, two folders of stacked with paper, 117 emails and countless hours put into my search… I found the answer to what I had been looking for. And all it took was a little spit, an angel and Facebook.
The Spit. With some Christmas money my parents had given me, I decided to buy an Ancestry DNA kit. It seemed to be my last resort and really the only investment I had put into the search as I promised myself I would find my birthmother on my own and for the least amount of money possible.
It took about a month to get the results of my DNA kit back. I knew going into this that we were praying to the people to get successful match results. When you spit into this little tube, your DNA is being matched to the tens of thousands who have also spit into a tube for ancestral purposes. Seems like a lot of people, but we’re looking for one person out of billions. With that being said, it could really go either way… you end up with nothing, with something extremetly distant or in my case – something extremely close. Success.
The Angel. Upon receiving my two results of close biological relatives, I was in contact with a woman through a Search & Reunion group on Facebook named Angela. After a couple hours of digging, Angela said, “What family is from the Midwest?” From adoption paperwork, I knew my birth mother was raised in the Midwest (somewhere) and my birth father was born and raised in Atlanta, where I was born. With the completed family trees and dissecting each person on each branch, we now knew my birth mother was from Wichita, Kansas and the two people I was matched to were an 80-year-old man, “Mr. LLR” and his niece, “Ms. B”, who was 65 years old. That being said — No, these were not as closely matched as we expected.
After an entire day and night of trying to piece together exactly where my birth mother fit in with these two, it seemed as if we were at a dead-end. No ages, children, locations and so forth were matching up with the information I had on my birth mother. Continuing onto the next day, Angela suggested it was time to call “Ms. B.” So I did. I called Kansas and she answered. She was a quiet woman and basically hung up on me within the first 30 seconds of me trying to explain why I was calling. Being so quick to hang up the phone, I figured she was the missing link. Being this far, there’s absolutely no way I can just stop there – I’d call again in the morning. I’d be more assertive and to the point.
The Facebook. During the time Angela and I were consuming information, we ended up coming upon many names of children and grandchildren (through obituaries) that were listed within this family tree’s last name. SO… when you come across names, especially names of those young enough to operate a computer, you login to Facebook, of course. There happened to be a couple decently public profiles that I was able to sift through and determine they had to be some type of distant cousin to my birth mother, but still without an idea exactly how they or she fit into the family tree. It took all of me to keep remembering I had just taken a DNA test. These results are 100% accurate and my answers absolutely, positively were in this mess of notes and tabs – My birth mother’s name was to be found in here, somewhere.
I was beyond exhausted. I took a break (nap) to find a message from my mom, “Hey I found ‘Ms. B’s’ son on Facebook!” This was a new name and new public profile I hadn’t seen yet. About halfway down this man’s profile I noticed a long status informing family and friends about his mother’s health. At the end of the status, there were about six names tagged in the status and still half asleep, I clicked on the first name.
I was now looking at yet another slightly public profile, it was filled with pictures of a woman and young man, who appears to be her son. Every. Single. Picture. It was just him and her. He looked to be about my age. She is a light-complected African American woman and my first initial thoughts, she’s very beautiful. I pay no attention to what (or who) I am looking at until I click back to her main profile and notice her cover photo. My hand immediately covers my mouth, I sit up, lose my breath and drop my phone.
Here’s a little background information my parents were given at the time of my adoption on my birth mother:
- Appearance: The biological mother is a 21-year old black young woman who is 5’4″ tall and normally weighs 138 pounds. She has dark brown hair, brown eyes, and a light complexion. She has a pretty smile and talks in an animated, intelligent manner.
- After attending college in her home town for about 1.5 years, the birth mother moved to a Southern city where an aunt lived. At that time, she was pregnant with her son who was born in May 1986. The birth mother is devoted to this child, who is an adorable, bright toddler. This child unfortunately has sickle-cell disease so he requires a lot of extra care and attention.
- Future Plans: The birth mother plans to enroll in cosmetology school so she can pay her way through college as a hairdresser.
I call my mom immediately while messaging Angela about this discovery at the same time. “Didyouseethis!? This is her. It’s her. It-has-to-be-her.” Somehow I worked the words out of my mouth and somehow I found room to breathe among the wonderment. My mom is now frantic with me on the phone and within minutes, Angela responds online soon having public information documents confirming this woman’s age, location and her son’s age as well. Everything – absolutely everything added up perfectly. There were a lot of tears, laughs, head shakes, smiles and prayers answered following this discovery. Including the confirmation that yes, this is my birth mother and yes, she is alive and well. Her name is Cynthia.
I now have a name and face to the woman my family and I have talked so graciously about for 27 years. My first question is successfully answered and that is A) No I don’t look like her and B) She seemingly looks healthy, happy and to be doing perfectly fine with her life. But now what? As much as I thought that eight-month search was hard, I was about to experience the hardest part of all – because after search, there is reunion.