A Family Reunion in Hawaii – Part 1

20170925_070054In less than thirty minutes, our plane will touch down in Hawaii. Not only have we never experienced the vacation-paradise-beauty of the Hawaiian Islands, we’ve also never met the man who’s picking us up at the airport.

“Are you nervous?” inquires my husband.

I shrug. “A little.” I am but I’m not. I’m kind of numb. Kind of going through the motions in a fog.

When he asks again five minutes later, I frown. “Would you stop? Are YOU nervous?”

“Yeah, a little,” he admits.

Last night was short, and today has been long. I think fatigue is contributing to my lack of emotion. And I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.

There’s no playbook for this kind of thing. Meeting the man who both of you discovered just seven months ago is your biological father.

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I walk off the plane into semi-darkness on shaky legs. Just because I’ve been sitting for so long, right? It’s warm and breezy and humid. My hair that already looks bad blows in my face. I glance back at my husband to find him juggling his carry-on bag while recording my descent from the plane with his phone. Are you kidding me??

He shakes his head at my obvious disapproval and motions for me to get/keep going.

The airport resembles the open-air, outdoorsy setting you’d expect to find on the beach. People mill about in a much less frenzied manner than at any of the other airports we’d traveled through today. Fewer signs to direct unfamiliar, numb-minded passengers where to go. But I locate a bathroom and spend two minutes in front of a mirror trying to repair the damage of being up for twenty hours and on a plane for twelve plus hours.

And while my husband visits the facilities, I trade my socks and good-for-walking-long-distances tennis shoes that look dreadful with my outfit for a pair of comfy-but-less-supportive sandals that “go with” my now wrinkled attire. Because first impressions matter, right? Not that I have reason to believe this kind of thing is important to my newly-discovered family, but it makes me feel better.

I draw in several deep breaths, and we resume our search for baggage claim and our driver. My birthfather.

We spot each other from a distance. He smiles and points my direction. He’s tall and looks younger than his 75 years. The moment I’ve envisioned for months is just seconds away. It seemed the long-awaited reunion would never get here, but now I’m grateful for the months spent getting to know each other via dozens of email messages. A wise move as now we’re not complete strangers.

Those first moments are warm and fun, full of smiles, happy greetings, and a big hug. The very first words we exchange are not overwhelmingly memorable, but his expression and the sincerity of the welcome are undeniable. It’s comfortable, not awkward. And no tears. I didn’t think I’d cry. But who knew? There’s no playbook, remember? And no prior experiences to draw from for either of us.

We move on to the business at hand—retrieving the luggage that thankfully did not get lost despite the last-minute rerouting of our trip due to mechanical issues. We hustle it to the car, and soon we’re cruising down the highway in the deep darkness typical of Big Island nights. My numbed emotions have recovered a little, I guess, but surreal doesn’t begin to describe the feeling of sitting next to this man I should have known all my life.

I glance toward him as we exchange small talk. The resemblance I’d noticed in pictures is a bit stronger in person. Not as striking as the resemblance with my bio mom but still noticeable. My entire life, I never looked like anyone, and now I look like both sides of my biological family. And that’s awesome.

Hawaii

My half-sister and her husband who also live in Hawaii will meet us at the hotel in a half-hour or so. I’m less nervous about this meeting but very excited to connect with her, the sister I never knew I had. Neither of us had a sister growing up. Three brothers for each of us but no sister. Until now.

Our dual-purpose vacation is off to a promising start. Oh, did I forget to mention? In addition to the family reunion, we’re also celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary with ten days in beautiful, sunny Hawaii, 4363 miles from home.

Stay tuned for more about this incredible adventure as well as another sibling connection that came about in the days leading up to Hawaii.

If you’re just tuning into my adoption search/reunion story, catch the beginning of the story here.

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Beth is passionate about seeing GOD at work in the “slices” of every day life. Check out her “Waiting Matters  . . . Because YOU Matter” blog series where she promotes the choice of saving sex for marriage. Comment here OR email her at  waitingmatters@gmail.com. Connect with her on Facebook at Beth Steury, AuthorShe’d love to hear from you! 

 

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The first year of the rest of my life

I don’t believe in coincidences. Well, not unless we’re talking two cooks who bring the exact same strawberry chocolate trifle to the potluck dinner. Or best friends buying the same shirt on separate shopping excursions. Those type of events are simply by-chance occurrences, possibly influenced by a to-die-for recipe or the similarity of fashion sense shared by BFFs.

But when it comes to the life-will-never-be-the-same again sort of events that may seem like they “just  happened” without any purpose or meaning, nope. Not a believer.

Things like my mom mentioning to my daughter in a casual conversation the 53-year secret that I was found on a doorstep. Not a fluke. Not happenstance. Not a “twist of fate.” Not planned by her, but orchestrated nonetheless.

The one-year anniversary of the “slip” was on Friday. The one-year annivdoorstep-announcement-angolaersary of my husband handing me the copied newspaper clipping my mom had stopped by to give me, but then left with him because I wasn’t home, occurred on Sunday.

In some ways, it seems but a few months since I learned this detail of my beginnings. Yet when I recall the long days of waiting for DNA test results and the painstaking plotting of the family lines of distant cousins, it feels like the past twelve months’ journey has spanned five years.

Three-hundred-sixty-five days filled with many memory-making moments, almost all of them “ups”. The in-person reunion with a half-brother. Many let’s-get-to-know-each-other email conversations. An undisclosed amount of time spent Facebook picture-stalking. Several lengthy telephone discussions. Many giddy hours consumed by an obsession to confirm family resemblances. Multiple late-night Facebook chats. A solo excursion of private moments to my “hometown”. An official tour of said town. Untold hours trying to absorb it all.

The year included only a few “downs.” Learning that my birthmother’s death in 1990 would prevent me from meeting her and assuring her I’d had a good life. And the unintended, yet not completely unforeseen, tsunami-type storm the unveiling of the secret produced for some of my birth family.

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Compared to many similar journeys, mine was but a short jaunt. Just five months and eleven days to uncover the identity of both my birthparents, from the day my Ancestry.com DNA results came back. Further proof to me of the orchestrated timing.

I have to wonder what this past year would have looked like minus the unfolding of this incredible journey . . .

For one, I’d have gotten soooooo much more sleep. But I’d have missed out on meeting the incredible people who assisted in the search.

I might, probably would have, written more on other topics and furthered my writing career path. But several birthmothers and adoptees reunited throughout the midst of my search, would still be looking.

My house would have been cleaner and more organized for sure. But my mother-in-law’s “mystery brother” case would have remained a mystery, most likely forever.

And I’d still be gazing into the faces of strangers, wondering if we were related. Pondering whether the similar eyes or nose or the-something-I-can’t-quite-name-familiarity about the person could mean we shared DNA.

One of the most incredible aspects of all of this is discovering resemblances between me and my birth relatives, on both sides of the family. Hearing that I have the same mannerisms as my birthmother is so intriguing. All my life, I didn’t look like anyone, and now I look like lots of people!

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What’s in store for the next 360+ days? I’m excited about more face-to-face encounters and the discovery of more in-common-ness at the paternal family reunions planned for September and November. A third reunion is possibly shaping up as well. I’m beyond thrilled to meet these close relatives I didn’t know existed until five short months ago.

On the sleuthing front, we’re working on three new adoptee/birthparent mysteries. Talk about stimulating exercise for the brain. I’m continually amazed at how many people have the same name—a frustrating conundrum when piecing together genealogical puzzles. And my daughter and I hope to travel in October to connect with one of the birthmother/adoptee cases we helped to solve. Makes us wonder what’s in store for the month of December. And January. February and March and so on.

All because of a casual conversation in my parent’s upstairs “junk room” where the secret slipped out. Was it mere coincidence that this particular conversation happened on that day? I don’t believe so.

As I continue to ponder the “why now?” question, it dawns on me that maybe I was/am at the best place in my life, right now, to hear the doorstep details. To launch the search, to find my birth families, to meet my relatives. To lend a hand to others searching as well. To have a ring-side seat to so many wonderful reunions.

Only a GOD orchestrated event could have triggered this domino effect whereby dozens of lives have been impacted.

Reunion reports to follow soon! Next week the countdown begins.     Stay tuned . . .

Beth is passionate about seeing GOD at work in the “slices” of every day life AND about the saving of sex for marriage. She believes strongly in accountability and mentoring and considers herself a cheerleader for “renewed waiting” too. Because SEX is worth waiting for. She’d love to hear from you! Comment here OR email her at  waitingmatters@gmail.com. Connect with her on Facebook at Beth Steury, Author.

 

 

An Adoption Story: Absorbing it All . . .

The sun peeks through the trees as I glance about the quiet, old neighborhood in the town where I was born. From across the street, I snap pictures of the house where my mother lived when she gave birth to me. Most likely in that very house or maybe in the small block building in the backyard.

I lower my camera as a car drives by then cross the street for a closer look. I’m drawn to the left of the house where, from the sidewalk, I peer across the yard through trees, bushes, plants, and other greenery to the property behind. The rear of two light blue buildings—a garage on the right, the house on the left—are visible through the foliage. But from this spot, I can’t quite make out the back door where I was found on November 17, 1963.

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from the sidewalk in front of my birthmother’s house looking through the yard to the house where she placed me on the doorstep 

The lump that swelled in my throat when I first turned onto Superior street has melted. I drove by the house without realizing it which kind of ruined the moment. When I circled back around, the dissolved lump did not reform. I’m not sure what I feel.

As the sun warms my back through the thin jacket I needed earlier but could easily shed now, I try to imagine that day long ago. I look around, wondering how much of this vegetation existed back then. Of course, in November, the leaf-less trees would have offered a much clearer view of the neighboring property. Yet it would have been dark and cold at just after 5 a.m. A shiver ripples through me, and I pull the jacket closer.

A couple cars pass. I snap a few more pics, deciding I’ve seen all there is to see. Anyway, I don’t want to rouse the suspicion of the current residents who might question my fascination with the quiet neighborhood in general, their property in particular.

The “official tour” of my hometown, guided by my maternal half-brother, will take place next Saturday. But since a writing related event found me here now, a week early, I welcome the opportunity for a few private moments to absorb it all. To wrap my head around such a complicated series of events. If only that were possible.

Some seven months after the fairly conclusive evidence that she was indeed my mother and four months after the solved father mystery sealed the deal, I’ve yet to grasp it all. Maybe any of it.

While my half-brother has filled in many details about the family, about her as a woman and mother and her life experiences, there are a frustrating number of unanswered questions for both of us. Things we’ll never know. Details that can never be filled in. Questions that will forever remain unanswered.

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The official tour

As we make our way through the now less-unfamiliar neighborhood, I drink in the details of my mother and half-brother’s life through the tidbits he shares. He parks across the street from “the” house, then green shingled, now boasting tan siding with brown trim. “That was my room.” He points to the upstairs window facing the street. He remarks on the block building (mentioned above) that he “helped” construct at the tender age of six.

Just one house stands between this one and that of her then best friend—the one person we can imagine having shared the doorstep baby secret. If only we’d started looking before this woman died in 2015.

We meander past Grandpa and Grandma’s house, just a couple blocks away, around the corner. A home well-loved and remembered by my brother yet foreign to me.

When my mother remarried in 1969 to a widower with five children, they lived a couple blocks up the same street in a spacious house on the corner. I would have had two step-brothers and three step-sisters.

A brief stop in front of the home where I was found leaves us all at a momentary loss for words.

Then it’s on to the local cemetery, to a picturesque setting under a large tree. The family of four—my grandparents, my mother and her brother—rest on either side of one headstone, with flat place markers noting the placement of each body.

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With the warm breeze whisking around us, we stroll about. My brother reliving the past that now includes a huge secret. Me trying to grasp every detail of the journey that brought me to this place. More stories flow from his memory, unleashed by the nearness of his closest relatives, no doubt. We snap pictures, capturing the moment.

A bit more circling about town brings the tour to an end with lunch at a long-time establishment. As we part, half-bro comments, “I guess we could’ve walked from one backyard to the next but . . . ” His tone clearly says, “Maybe not.”

I shake my head. Maybe not indeed. Not only would we have garnered far more attention than we wanted, just no. I made it through the day without crying, but that would have pushed me over the edge. Not tears for myself but for her, the mother leaving her baby.

I cling to the thought that maybe, just maybe something like this happened.

Birthmother to someone associated with the police, welfare department, or court system: “I wonder whatever happened to that baby, you know, the one the newspaper said was left on the doorstep.”

Someone in the know: “Oh, the baby was healthy. She stayed in the hospital a couple weeks then a nice couple adopted her.”

A measure of closure. A bit of peace to ease her mind.

We go back to our regular, normal lives, each left to ponder the reality of her secret. The very certain fact she never dreamed her son would years later receive a letter from the baby she placed on the doorstep.

The “who” answers have left weighty “how” and “why” questions in their wake. What was once a mystery to be solved has morphed into a reality rife with raw emotions and impossible to grasp realizations. Like how without her, I would not be here, yet I’ll never know her or the impact of my existence on her life.

I always understood how this was not the kind of story to be told to a young child. But now, that truth is magnified a thousand times as so many complexities have come to light.

In the last couple weeks, the reminder has pressed closer that this story is not mine alone. I’ve even questioned whether the secret she took to her grave should have remained undisclosed. But the prompting that One far wiser than me has guided this journey, soothes away most of those misgivings.

In the meantime, I’m connecting with my birthfather and his family—my birth stepmother, my aunt, two half-brothers, one half-sister, two adopted sisters, and two first cousins as well as various nieces and nephews. His family happens to number considerably more than that of my birthmother’s–her only sibling neither married nor had children. Of course there’s the reality that on his side, it’s an entirely different scenario. “Hey, look, a child I never knew about,” doesn’t even compare to her secret baby situation.

Even though I can’t yet answer the “Why now?” for the revelations falling into place at such a time as this, I still believe there is meaning and purpose to the timing. So, I’ll be ever vigilant to GOD’s continued intervention and direction. And strive to be content with the answers I do have rather than fret over those I don’t.

Adoption records open!

Next July in my state, adoptee birth records will be unsealed. Although this action would not have helped me, thousands of “traditionally” adopted persons will finally have access to information about their birthparents. My advice to one and all?

Toss out all expectations and preconceived ideas about the “who, what, when, where, how and why” and prepare yourself to discover truths stranger than any fiction author could conjure up.

And please oh please, realize you did not and cannot now walk in the shoes of those who made those long ago decisions. So, try very hard not to judge.

Remind yourself that your story impacts more than just you and that others will have different perspectives.  Tread lightly. Be kind and compassionate. 

 Stay tuned. I’ve a feeling this journey is not yet over. cropped-head-shot-2

Beth is passionate about seeing GOD at work in the “slices” of every day life AND about the saving of sex for marriage. She believes strongly in accountability and mentoring and considers herself a cheerleader for “renewed waiting” too. Because SEX is worth waiting for. She’d love to hear from you! Comment here OR email her at  waitingmatters@gmail.com. Connect with her on Facebook at Beth Steury, Author.

 

 

 

 

 

“We knew you came from somewhere.”

As the search for answers behind my doorstep beginnings came to an end, my mom made this rather profound statement, “Well, we knew you came from somewhere.”

Of course I did. I had a past before being found on the doorstep. A past that didn’t simply disappear because my future was headed in a very new and different direction.

Although they didn’t care what that past involved nor did they want to know any details, my parents “got” what so many adoptive parents don’t get. That where we came from would always be a part of us.

I came from somewhere, from people whose contribution to my existence did not simply vanish because the decision was made that we would part ways.

family tree picOnce I knew who those people were, I wanted to know about them. The mom and dad, the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. Unless you are adopted, you won’t understand how exhilarating it was to click the box on my Ancestry.com results to “link my test results with a family tree”—the new tree my daughter began building after the mystery was solved. A tree comprised of my blood relatives.

For years, she’d painstakingly built our family tree, going back seven generations in some areas. The branches had swelled to include over 1850 ancestors. My side of the tree held the names and dates and stories of my adoptive family—the Hammitts and the Dagues.

I will always be a Hammitt regardless of whose DNA courses through my body. I’m proud of my Hammitt / Dague heritage. I love that my daughter created a family tree based on the rich history of these families who played a huge role in my life, in her life. That tree will never be deleted or replaced. Rather the new Brown / Hubbard family tree will rest alongside the Hammitt / Dague tree in our Ancestry.com account. Each as vital and important as the other.

As I connect more with my biological family, as we fill in the blanks of the last 50+ years, my mind swirls with “what ifs?”. What if I’d grown up with them? My life would have taken a very different path. My husband would be married to someone else. I would be married to someone else. Neither my daughter or son would exist. Nor would my grandson. I would have different children. Be someone else’s “Gram.” That’s a lot to wrap my head around.

A fellow adoptee who recently connected with his birthmother summed it up well.“If I hadn’t been adopted, my life would have been very different. But I wouldn’t have known the difference.” Another profound statement.

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Of course my life and his could have been snuffed out before we took our first breath. Abortion wasn’t legal in 1963 or 1965, but it took place all the same. In fact the Society for Human Abortion was established in San Francisco in 1963, openly providing information on abortion, and no doubt paving the way for the 1973 ruling that would legalize the killing of unborn babies.

Even though my birthmother determined she could not raise me or relinquish me for adoption through traditional means, she chose to give me life. Then shedoorstep-announcement-angola protected my life by making sure I would be found quickly. Remember the homeowner’s dog Frisky? When the small dog went out to do “his business”, no baby on the step. Minutes later when he scampered back into the house, he
jumped over the bundle of baby wrapped in a black shirt. Although the backyard neighbors had only lived there a short time, my birthmom and Mrs. N. were acquainted as members of a local club some years prior to 1963. I’m betting she remembered them as the good, family-oriented folks I discovered them to be, and she knew they would do the right thing.

I have to wonder if she checked the newspaper for word of her baby. I wonder if maybe she cut out the three paragraph snippet—in one publication—four paragraph blurb in the other local paper—and tucked it away somewhere. I wonder if she feared prosecution were someone to discover the doorstep baby belonged to her.

baby-safe-havenYou see, “Safe Haven” laws that allow a distressed parent to give up an unwanted infant safely, legally and confidentially, without fear of arrest or prosecution, and requires no names or records, didn’t go into effect in my state until 2000. I’m thrilled that this safe, legal option is available now.

Because not everyone who can father a child or give birth to a child is equipped to, in that moment in time, care for and nurture that child.

I promised you more about the “cool process and the incredible people” that made this discovery possible. With absolutely no clues, the only hope of finding answers was to look into my DNA. We chose Ancestry.com’s autosomal DNA kit that tests a sample of saliva. The results provided a list of people who had also tested, with whom I shared DNA, referred to as “matches.” With the help of the amazing genetic genealogist Amanda R., we built a “speculative” family tree to determine how these matches fit together. Ancestry’s vast resources combined with sleuthing skills we didn’t know we possessed, uncovered the details that led us to my birthmother’s family. A couple months later, a new “close match” pointed us directly to my birthfather. Without Ancestry.com, the mystery would never have been solved.

ancestry logo

The company has experienced exponential growth in the last six months. In March their user base topped 4 million. Evidently having one’s DNA tested is the “in” thing to do. Which is fabulous news for anyone searching for genealogical answers via DNA as the more people who test, the more clues will be available to everyone searching.

Early in this journey, we discovered DNA Detectives, the amazing nearly 50,000 member strong Facebook group focused on using DNA to solve genealogical mysteries.The closed group–you must request to be a member–is administered by a faithful crew of kind, dedicated, knowledgeable genetic genealogists and “search angels” who pour themselves into solving family mysteries. Here we made friends with other searching adoptees, learned valuable search tips, and gained deep and impactful insights into the emotionally charged world of digging for adoption answers. The stories are as unique as the individuals, each looking for answers that can only be found in the DNA that links them to their ancestors.

While some people search for years—decades even—to solve family mysteries, the puzzle pieces fell into place very quickly for me. I found both birthparents in just five months and 11 days. Something I have to believe is related to the “why now?” factor. At this very moment, a situation is unfolding that was spurred by my searching for answers. Someone touched by my journey has embarked on his own important quest for answers.

More adventures await as the visit to my birthmother’s grave and the house where I was born will happen soon. I’ve connected with several more of my eight, newly-discovered half-siblings. Plans are coming together for meeting my birthfather, his sister and possibly some of the sibs. And my eyes will be ever open for more “why now?” evidence.

So stay tuned . . .   cropped-head-shot-2

Beth is passionate about seeing GOD at work in the “slices” of every day life AND about the saving of sex for marriage. She believes strongly in accountability and mentoring and considers herself a cheerleader for “renewed waiting” too. Because SEX is worth waiting for.

She’d love to hear from you! Comment here OR email her at  waitingmatters@gmail.com. Connect with her on Facebook at Beth Steury, Author.

 

An Adoption Story: The Final Pieces – Part 2

 

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While my parents had years to ponder my “foundling” beginnings, to conjure up scenarios about the who, the when, the why,I have had but a few months to imagine the details surrounding my being left on a doorstep. I have to agree with my mom’s repeated murmurings as the pieces have fallen into place. “This is not at all how I envisioned it.”

We peer at pictures of my birthmother who passed away twenty-six years ago—pictures we’ve studied for months—now placed next to a new-to-us picture of my very much alive birthfather.

This final piece of my adoption puzzle fell into place just over a month ago wDSCF8697 (2)hen my birthfather’s sister appeared as a “close relative” match on Ancestry.com. “Aunt Donna” broke the news of a long ago doorstep baby to her brother who knew nothing of a pregnancy or a baby girl.

At her urging and with his blessing, I sent him a brief email message that included the newspaper clipping and the link to the letter I posted in area newspapers last August, looking for anyone who remembered the doorstep baby from 1963. I struggled with what to say, and although I wasn’t thrilled with the final product, I hit send anyway. His response was quick and accepting of the situation. My loss-for-words condition remedied itself as we exchanged many get-to-know-you messages in the days that followed. He didn’t shy away from my questions which required him to sort through long ago memories and try to fit new pieces into a puzzle that he didn’t know had holes.

Despite the fact that the situation was anything but expected and is the furthest thing from neat and tidy, he’s been very welcoming. He brings four biological half-siblings as well as two adopted daughters to the equation. Add my two maternal half-siblings and my three adopted grew-up-with-me-my-whole-life brothers and that makes a grand total of eleven siblings. Eight brothers, two adopted sisters, and one biological sister.

siblings

Yes, I have a sister. And yes, we look alike. (From an earlier post:  What if I had a sister out there somewhere? What if she looked like me?)

I also look like my birthmother.  And paternal grandmother. And even Aunt Donna. My son shares a strong resemblance with one of his maternal uncles. There’s actually quite a lot of family resemblances all around confirmed by several picture montages comparing me at various ages to my new relatives.  And I’m loving it. To finally look like someone is incredible.

Immediate family and very close friends have oohed and ahhed over the picture comparisons. But I won’t be sharing them here. Not yet. Maybe later, maybe never. Out of respect for all involved, I’m not revealing the names, the pictures or even the small Midwest town where the story unfolded. As much as I’ve enjoyed sharing this journey with you and would like to share the pictures, I’m very aware that this story isn’t mine alone.

Neither is the decision to share the “news” with my half-siblings and new extended family. While I get one vote, it’s not the deciding vote. Would I like to meet them? Yes, I would. But I won’t insist nor will I approach any of them on my own. This story of decisions made long ago has the potential to impact a host of people’s lives. Should connections and relationships develop, I will welcome them. If some never learn of my existence or choose to remain strangers, those are choices I will respect.

howWhile this ends the search for the “who”, many questions remain. Like how did she conceal the pregnancy, when and where did she give birth, did anyone help her with the birth or walk with her through that difficult time? It’s looking like those questions will never be resolved because the one person who holds those answers no longer has a voice. My greatest concern as I uncovered the truth was that no part of this journey bring judgement upon my birthmother or the decisions she made.

As a close friend listens to the latest update, her head shakes and her eyes widen. “So what’s the why?”

As in why now?  Why after all these years are the answers lining up to questions I barely knew to ask?

“That’s what I keep wondering,” I murmur.  Now it’s my head that’s shaking, moving back and forth in a kind of circular, what-in-the-world-is-this-all-about motion.

Because now that there’s no one to tell, “You did what you felt you had to do and it turned out okay,” the why of this journey is looming large. I felt certain whythere was someone who needed to hear, “It’s fine, really. The story had a happy ending.” That surely someone had been waiting fifty-three years to know what became of her/his baby girl on the doorstep. But no.

Since we began this quest, my daughter and I have reunited three searching adoptees with their birthmothers. One adoptee will celebrate his 50th birthday this week having connected with his birthmother who has looked for him for years. We also solved the case of the “mystery brother” for my mother-in-law and in the process discovered a plethora of new first cousins for my husband and his three siblings. A newfound niece will join the family celebration for my mother-in-law’s 91st birthday this weekend. We couldn’t be happier about connecting with this newly discovered branch of the family.

life experiences quote

Maybe the “why” of this journey has less to do with me and my story than I assumed. Maybe the purpose in my search was the opportunity it created to assist in the reunions mentioned above. Or maybe my quest was about the reconnecting with family this discovery has spurred for my new Aunt Donna. While I find myself still longing for my birthmom to hear the words, “It turned out well,” from me, the grown-up version of the tiny baby she walked across two backyards, that’s another decision that is not mine to make.

I suspect there are a variety of “whys”. That evidence of new reasons and purposes will continue to emerge. I do hope that’s the case. This experience has been, all at the same time, overwhelming, inspiring, and satisfying. And this whole business of reuniting people is as heartwarming as it is addictive.

So what’s ahead? For one, a special trip to my hometown as well as more reflections on the cool process and the incredible people that made all of this possible. While the search may be over, I’ve a feeling the journey has just begun. And I’m counting on some more “whys” too. So stay tuned for more . . . very soon! 

ScribcolumnBeth is passionate about seeing GOD at work in the “slices” of every day life AND about the saving of sex for marriage. She believes strongly in accountability and mentoring and considers herself a cheerleader for “renewed waiting” too. Because SEX is worth waiting for. She’d love to hear from you! Comment here OR email her at waitingmatters@gmail.com. Connect with her on Facebook at Beth Steury, Author.

An Adoption Story: The Final Pieces of the Puzzle

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Two weeks ago today it happened. A new, very close match popped up on my
Ancestry.com DNA results. Admittedly obsessed with checking our results daily, somehow neither my daughter nor I had checked for new matches before 1:15, maybe 1:30 in the afternoon that day. Unheard of.

But as we finished lunch, I did a quick perusal of our account before settling into other matters and there it was. There she was. An aunt or half-sister. With just a few key strokes, we knew she was a match on my birthfather’s side. And she’d already discovered us and left a message including her phone number with an invitation to call her.

The next two hours were a blur of friendly conversation and discovery. A brief retelling of my doorstep beginnings, including the city and the mention of my birthmother’s name, seemed to unlock the mystery. She announced that she must be my aunt. And she was thrilled.

I was speechless. Not only had the discovery of my birthfather dropped into my lap, but he was alive.

Hold that thought while I back the story up a bit. Remember the DNA test my very-probable half-brother and I submitted in December to look at the specific DNA mothers pass on to their children? The results delivered the last day of January further corroborated all the other evidence. We had as much proof as we were going to get without her to confirm her role in my existence. Unless we found my birthfather.

As the last piece of the puzzle, he might be able to verify the case we’d built although that seemed a long shot for several reasons. First, we had no close DNA leads. Second, he may have known nothing about a pregnancy, a baby girl, or a doorstep. And last, he too was likely to have passed.

Still, I strapped on a go get’m attitude, printed a stack of family tree charts and determined to find the common ancestors among my third and fourth cousin matches, whose number hovered just under 300,  approximately half of whom related to my birthfather’s side. I was in the midst of deciphering how three particular matches related to each other when this new aunt appeared on the scene, possessing clues that pointed to her brother being the last piece of the puzzle.DNA detectives family tree form

Now back to me being speechless—which almost never happens. I’d convinced myself that if I was extremely lucky, I’d maybe find a person who had been in the right place at the right time who could possibly fit into the last puzzle piece space. Someone whose involvement could possibly be confirmed via the testing of others—maybe more half-siblings—because he would no longer be living.

But he was alive and well and considerably younger than my mother.

Remember how we celebrated her would-be 91st birthday in January? That means she was 37, almost 38, when I was born. She wasn’t a teenager like I’d always suspected. She wasn’t even a young 20-something. She was middle aged with teenage sons.

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My new aunt was most anxious to share the discovery with her brother, but a whirlwind of emotion made it difficult for me to think coherently. Part of me wanted to yell, “Wait!” while I tried to process this new reality. But this was no longer just my story. Actually, it never was just my story—a truth that I’ve tried very hard to be mindful of. She didn’t really need my permission to share the discovery, but she very kindly sought it out of consideration for my feelings. I concluded it would be best/better to receive such news from someone he knew, so I agreed.

I was not surprised to learn he’d been unaware of a pregnancy let alone a baby. The details painted a rather sticky, complicated, and unpredictable situation, just as one might expect when the end result is a secret baby left on the neighbor’s back doorstep. The reality was a scenario even this fiction writer found difficult to fathom.

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It was a DOG not a CAT, and I weighed  5 lbs. 12 oz. and measured 19 inches in length.

As the story came together, I felt removed from the plot, as if it was someone else’s past being revealed. It was about “him” and “her” and “the pregnancy” and “the baby.” All third person. The surreal-ness soon faded into an understanding that it was my story. A story I’d been unaware of for 53 years.

I decided before embarking on this journey that I would not be upset by what I found, and I am not. It is what it is. And I’m okay with it.

Life is complicated and often messy. Decisions are made. Consequences follow. Time passes. Life goes on.

So what happened next? And what’s ahead? And the WHY? What’s the WHY to this entire journey?

Stay tuned for part 2 . . . coming very soon! cropped-head-shot-2

Beth is passionate about seeing GOD at work in the “slices” of every day life AND about the saving of sex for marriage. She believes strongly in accountability and mentoring and considers herself a cheerleader for “renewed waiting” too. Because SEX is worth waiting for. She’d love to hear from you! Comment here OR email her at waitingmatters@gmail.com. Connect with her on Facebook at Beth Steury, Author.

 

Writing . . . Reading . . . And Piecing Together an Adoption Story in 2017

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This January 3rd . . . uh, I mean 4th finds me making a serious effort to shift back into high gear after the holidays. Considering I was supposed to post this blog yesterday, it appears I’m still operating in low gear.

We enjoyed a grand time of celebrating the birth of the Saviour with family and friends. Then we shifted into a much needed slower pace to rest up from all of the holiday cheer. To catch our collective breaths before plunging into 2017. So far we’ve just dipped our toes in the water of the new year, but any second now the diving in will commence.

By comparison to November and December, January is a sloooowwww month. Although normal school and work schedules have resumed, not a lot else goes on and that’s fine by me. It’s the perfect set-up for getting back to writing. The final revisions on “Before I Knew You”, book one of my YA “Choices Matter” series, are seriously calling my name. Then it’s on to finishing books two and three.  I’m anxious to introduce this story to the world in 2017.

As much as I love my characters and their story, it will be a real challenge to stay away from the myriad of genealogy sites, Facebook groups, DNA how-to’s, and to also limit the chatting with all the awesome people I’ve met through these various means. Hey, it’s not every day a person learns she was found on a doorstep at three-days of age. Then discovers her probable birthmother’s family and meets a probable half-brother. To say I’ve been distracted is putting it mildly. (Find several posts about this journey here; posts are in reverse order.) 

Who knew that half-siblings and uncle/niece share the same amount of DNA? Although we feel quite certain we are looking at a half-sibling rather than uncle/niece relationship, a particular test will help us be sure since the parties directly involved cannot corroborate the story. So, a few days before Christmas, likely half-brother and I sat at my dining room table and carefully read instructions and completed forms for a DNA test that looks at the specific DNA mothers pass on to their children. I tell you, a person doesn’t realize how long sixty seconds is until you must swish/scrape a tiny brush/swab like thing against the inside of each cheek for a minute.cake

photo credit:  http://www.suddenlink.net/pages/jwiolold/Moms%20BD/91/91.html

This Friday we will celebrate the birthday of his (our) deceased mother by going out to dinner. She would have been 91-years-old this January 6th. He will share more about her, their life, our shared ancestors. We’ll probably compare more pictures—there is definitely a resemblance between her and I. We’ll ponder some more about the days and weeks leading up to and immediately following my birth. And I imagine each of us will continue to wonder how this event impacted the rest of her life.

While distant clues pointing toward the other side of the birth equatiScribcolumnon continue to appear, there are no breakthroughs to report. I’m hoping a close match will pop up any day now as the time and energy it takes to hone in on a birth parent with only third and fourth cousin DNA matches is extraordinary. Please stay tuned right here for future updates on this very real “slice” of my life.

The slower pace of January is perfect for both writing and reading. I’m thrilled to announce The Scriblerians are launching a fab book review site that will be a helpful resource for purchasers of middle grades and YA books, a place that will encourage constructive conversations about the books geared toward this important audience. I love reading YA fiction and just last night I perused for books I want to read and share with all of you in the coming year.

Writing . . . launching my new series . . . reading awesome YA fiction . . . piecing together an adoption story . . . 2017 is shaping up to be an amazing year.

I hope your 2017 is already off to a winning start and that it will continucropped-head-shot-2e to gain momentum in the weeks and months ahead. What are you most looking forward to accomplishing this year?

Beth is passionate about seeing GOD at work in the “slices” of every day life AND about the saving of sex for marriage. She believes strongly in accountability and mentoring and considers herself a cheerleader for “renewed waiting” too. Because SEX is worth waiting for. She’d love to hear from you! Comment here OR email her at waitingmatters@gmail.com. Connect with her on Facebook atBeth Steury, Author.