The 38 Year Old Secret

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puzzle pieceSome pieces of a puzzle go together with ease. Some challenge you. Some make you want to quit. But in the end, the visual can take your breath away. Just what if there was one piece missing? You know it’s there, but you have looked everywhere. No luck. Life moves on, but that you have faith that it will appear. Ultimately, I can rest easy knowing I never gave up. This piece is worth it…big time. A risk worth taking.  

Five years ago, I found a missing piece of my story. The first attempt to meet my biological mom, Sherry, left my mind in a state of wonder. She did not want any contact, yet did tell the social worker that she is a breast cancer survivor. She wanted me to be proactive with my mammograms. Who knew six years later that my world would be rocked with my own breast cancer diagnosis? Who knew that she would have a change of heart and we would meet five years later? As hard as I tried to bury my feelings, they would creep up. My stubborn self just knew I had to try to contact her one more time. So, I acted and hired a private attorney named Jill. She was a pro at connecting adoptees, and she was even doubtful. God had other plans. Within months, she found her. She was ready to meet. Time has a way of changing and opening our hearts. Patience is hard, but the wait makes space for our strength.   

I met Sherry for coffee, and of course, she talked about my biological father. Once she agreed it was time for us to meet, she reached out to him. I swear, I still hold my breath when I think of that phone call. How many times did she pick up the phone and back out?  Not sure I could do it, but it was time. No more avoiding. Time to reveal the secret that she buried so deeply for 38 years. She kept it simple. “I have something to tell you. 38 years ago, we conceived a baby. I hid my entire pregnancy. Breaking up with you in college allowed me to hide my growing belly. You and I are the only ones who know. You have a daughter.” 

Her face lit up talking about loving him in high school. She thinks I favor him physically. Even though I’ve seen pictures of him, and I still wonder. A picture will never replace personal interaction. The sound of his voice. His mannerisms. His soul. His wit. Naturally, I wonder.  She pointed out that my hands are similar to his. She talked about how funny he was, that he can bust some killer dance moves, and he never met a stranger.  

The love Sherry had for him is still present today. You can feel it deep in your bones when she speaks of him. She reassured me that she will forever love him. She was 22 years old, not married, and felt that her family would disown her; it made her choice clear. Keep her pregnancy a secret and put me up for adoption. There was no other option. My anxiety ignites when I think of how he felt hearing about me after 38 years. Five years have passed, yet I still struggle with how he processes it all. Learning that you have a daughter with your high school crush. That is a lot. Maybe he buries his feelings. Maybe he thinks of me now and then. Maybe he wishes Sherry would have kept the secret of me buried forever. Maybe he feels betrayed and full of anger—all justified feelings. I cannot imagine that phone call.    

My dad passed away from cancer a couple of years ago. He loved me through the process of finding Sherry. He would then ask about finding my biological father. It’s like he knew I needed to complete my puzzle. My story. I don’t give up easily. Maybe one day, he will consider connecting. On his terms, of course. If that day comes, I will share the experience with my dad. My dad lived a good life, and he loved to talk. Our talks are slightly different these days. Not to worry, though. I have his direct line to heaven. My life was his biggest source of happiness. He became a dad. There is no greater gift.  

I am 43 and blessed with the love of my life and two children. They are both adopted, just like me. My heart is full of life, and I have all and more than I need in this life. I was raised with loving parents who talked openly about the beauty of adoption. I’m a talker, red wine lover, Jesus follower, love naps, cherish family, have friends that love me at my best and in my mess. Even though I haven’t met my biological father, he is a piece of the puzzle. My heart is open, and I will keep the faith that his heart feels a tug to connect one day. So many wonders and questions run through my mind. Maybe the final piece to my puzzle will appear when I least expect it. Yet, there is a chance my puzzle will be incomplete. Some stories leave you in wonder. Just maybe it is enough that he knows about me. Just maybe his heart is still healing from that phone call from Sherry. Maybe he needs time. Either way, my soul will rest knowing that I put myself out there. Some puzzles are never solved. I am learning to embrace the mystery. What will be, will be…  

 

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