Thursday, April 12, 2012

An Adoptive Child's Journey

I recently posted on Facebook that I had made contact with my birth family. If you’ve not been “following along” – I was adopted when I was 3 weeks old.

I grew up really well adjusted and quite comfortable with the fact that I had been adopted. My Mom and Dad always told me how special I was… that I was wanted and chosen. They had lost their first daughter to cancer and were unable to give birth to more children. Being parents was extremely important to them – regardless of how that child came into their lives.

I was taught from an early age that love made a family – not blood. My father explained it to me like this… “Cindy Lynn. Blood doesn’t mean anything. I wasn’t blood related to your Mother and I would have laid down my life for her.”

That was my Dad. He always had a way of bringing things into perspective and boiling them down to a simple concept.

So because of the outlook I was raised with, I never felt a need to search for my birth family. And, in fact, until I was in my early 30’s I was under the impression my birth parents were deceased. And, even if I had felt the need I would have never actively searched for my birth family while either of my parents was still alive. Somehow it just felt like a betrayal to them. I know that may sound silly – but it’s how I felt, and to some degree how I still feel.

In 2009 I stumbled upon my birth Mother’s maiden name while doing genealogy research on This caused Richard to begin researching, without my knowledge. In June 2010 Richard discovered information about my birth Mother on the internet. I wrote about the discovery and my agonizing over whether or not I should contact her. You can read that story HERE and the update to my decision HERE.

Unfortunately, while I was waiting for a “sign” – something to tell me it was the right thing to do to contact her – she passed away. I remember Richard calling me at work and telling me, “Your Mother is dead.” I was confused. When he talked about my Mother, I thought he was talking about my Mom – Sylvia Porter. Well, of course she was dead – she died in 1986 !! Then it dawned on me what he was trying to say. My window of opportunity had passed. I waited too long. My birth mother had died and I never got the chance to tell her thank you. To let her know what an incredible gift she had given my parents. I was never able to let her know that I had thought about her all those years – especially on my birthday – and that I loved her for the choice she had made.

After waiting a couple of months I decided to contact my birth Mother’s younger brother. I wrote to him on Facebook and explained who I was and why I thought she may have been my birth Mother. At first he was surprised and didn’t believe me. But, after several messages back and forth he was very kind, welcoming and answered questions that I had. I knew I had a half-sister and asked if he thought she knew about me. He said he didn’t think she did. I told him that perhaps it would be best not to tell my sister about me. I was worried that this news would upset her, and affect her memory of her Mother in some way. So, we let things lie.

A few weeks ago I received an email from my Uncle and he said that he thought it had been long enough and wanted to tell my sister about me. But, he wanted to be sure I was OK with that and to ask whether or not I would be open to having contact with her, if that’s what she wanted. I answered, “absolutely”. And, then I waited.

Exactly one week later I received a Facebook friend request from one of my nieces. I knew exactly who it was when I quickly accepted the request. She wrote to me right away to ask if I was the Cindy Mulligan that had contacted her Uncle Bob. I said YES, I am. She replied, “I am your niece!!!!”

That day was a flurry of excitement and A LOT of Facebook and email messages between my niece, my sister, and me. And that night, my sister called and we had a wonderful conversation that was 50+ years in the making.

I find it interesting to know that all these years I was correct about so many things. Not things that I could really have knowledge about, just that I FELT. I always felt that I was a “secret”; that no one in my birth family knew about me. That for whatever reasons my birth Mother could not tell her family about the child she gave up for adoption. I was correct. I always thought my birth Father’s name was Luis. Now, through my sister doing some “digging”, we find that his name is, in fact, Luis.

For me - having lived all these years never knowing anyone I was blood related to; no one that really looked like me – this is quite a turn of events. In many ways I am so very excited to have a new family to get to know and to open my heart to. And in other ways I’m still processing this information and trying to figure out how I fit into all of this. You would have thought I would be prepared for it. I guess I wasn’t. My friend Carol asked me if I felt in some way MORE complete than I felt before. I answer her – NO. I almost feel less complete. Because I was always so well adjusted to my circumstances and being “Cindy Porter”, I am working my way through these new feelings of identifying with my new family. Somehow, this has found me feeling pulled in two directions. No one is making me feel that way – or doing that to me – it’s just how I feel while processing these new emotions and the entire situation.

I can tell you that I am excited to have a sister. We’re still getting to know each other and I believe we are both enjoying that experience. I’m really happy to have two beautiful nieces and two grand nieces. Just like a new friendship – these new relationships will take time. I look forward to getting to know my birth Mother through their memories. And I want them to get to know me too. To know my life to this point; how I was raised and the great love that I still have for my Mom and Dad – even though they’ve been gone for so many years.

Anyone that has known me for any length of time knows how important family is to me…. regardless of whether it was created by love – or by blood. And so – the saga continues…

Here are a few photos for you, if you don't have access to my Facebook page:

A side by side of my Mother and me

My sister and me

My mother and me at about the same age - 7 or 8

My mother's wedding photo in 1962.  She was 22 years old.

My niece, Jennifer

My niece Julie and her family

A side by side of my grand niece Kelsie on the left and me on the right
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