I could feel myself starting to feel sick…like I would throw up right there at the table in front of everyone. Did I just hear that right? Are they just playing a joke on me? I must have been mistaken, I could not possibly have heard that correctly…
Social media can be a wonderful tool if used properly. In my case, it help me reconnect with cousins I hadn’t spoken to in 25 or 30 years. Why so long? Mainly because of the relationship that my mother had with her family. She was a very domineering and strong headed woman who raised me with an iron fist. I was given great opportunities for education and all the social graces as well as the ability to travel around the world. But she could be very cruel and in those moments, I felt, why me? I never felt close to her. She was always demeaning me or ridiculing me. She always made me feel like second-best. You see I had a brother who at the age of five died from Lymphatic cancer. My whole life I was compared to him. He was the ghost in my life that I had to live with. She always told me how I never appreciated anything that I had or was given. That while her son was dying and receiving treatments, she could not even afford to buy him an ice cream. As they say you can’t fight the ghosts from your past. And my brother Donald was the ghost I could never meet and could not compete with. I could never make my mother proud of me and love me the way she loved the son she had lost.
She also controlled the finances within our family which also meant her brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews as well. As the saying goes, the person with the money has all the power and control and that was definitely my mother. Her sisters and brothers feared her and always did everything she wanted. She demand total respect and respect was what she got. If anyone needed any help there were always conditions, usually tied to money. This was the mother I was brought up with. As for my father, he died when I was three years old but my mother did me the “favor” and remarried. It was one of the good things she did for me. I could not ask for a better stepdad. He loved me and I absolutely worshipped him. There wasn’t anything that he didn’t do for me. He made my life somewhat tolerable and kept me safe from the physical and mental abuse of my mother. Then, in 2007 my mother died. I was left to take care of my stepdad for the next 5 years until his passing in 2012.
Earlier that year, while visiting my in-laws in Florida, I decided to call my four cousins that I found on Facebook to see if we could have lunch to catch up on all our lost years. I was so excited. I was the oldest of the cousins and couldn’t wait to reconnect. Too much time had gone by. By then, their parents had passed and it was just us, just one more reason for me try to get us together.
There we were, having a great time reminiscing, having lunch when I looked at them and realized that we were getting so old. Here I was, sitting at the head of the table, noticing how much they all look alike in some manner, when I said, “Why is it that you all have such beautiful high cheekbones and dark eyes, and I didn’t?” That’s when I felt sick…my throat felt like it was closing, I couldn’t breathe. My heart was pounding uncontrollably. They laughed and said “because you were adopted, silly”. I felt the combination of feeling nauseated at the same time that I felt a sense of relief. I started crying uncontrollably and they could see by my face that I had no idea of what they so casually told me. That the terrible secret they were told to keep from me was out. I think they were just as shocked. They’ all said that they assumed I knew after all these years, especially since my mother had died. At that point, I couldn’t explain it why I felt relieved. It took me years to finally explain it to myself, never mind to others.
When I could finally speak, I had a million questions, but no one seemed to have information except that I was adopted. Only that they were threatened by my mother to not ever say anything to me.
I asked my stepfather about my new info and was not surprised to see that my dad had no idea about my news. All he could tell me was “that was your mother. She was always secretive about everything.”
The only person I had left to get information from was my mother’s last living sister. I had to travel to Puerto Rico to find her and ask her any questions I had.
Her story was that my so-called grandfather, her and my mother’s father, owned a lot of property in a small town, and that this young girl, about 16 years old, came with me and asked him for help. He offered her money so that she could try to start a new life for herself and to leave me with him. He told her that he had a daughter that had lost her son to cancer and that she could no longer have children. She could raise me. That was it. He found a midwife that lied and told the health department that my mother had given birth to me and had my birth certificate with all of her and my fathers information. Well, that’s the story I was told, so there is where my search began.
By the end of 2012, after the death of my stepdad, I started with Ancestry, 23andMe, GEDmatch… any outlet to find out about my life. There were only 3 questions I had that I needed answers to before I died…are my parents still alive? What was my birth name? Do I have any siblings? I can’t tell you how when I was growing up I desperately wanted and needed brothers and sisters. I hated being an only child except with the ghost of a dead brother. I even contacted a medium that i went to every year and asked for answers to my quest. All she kept telling me was that my “spirit guides” and my “angels” would give me my answers when “they” were ready.
The years went by slowly without much information except perhaps for some cousins who were reluctant to share any information. I always questioned why people would do DNA searches, if they didn’t want to share info, but have since learned why. Here I had all these DNA results, not understanding one thing that I was reading except for possible matches and names that meant nothing to me. I felt hopeless. I felt that I would never get the information I needed. I was at a dead end and it was over!
Then last month, while scrolling through FB page, I saw in a group that I belonged to that there was another closed group called DNAngels that could help find lost relatives. I thought about it and said to myself, “do i really want to join another group, just to be disappointed again?” So there I went, answering the required questions. That was four weeks ago…
Upon getting room approval, I had the honor of working with Laura Leslie, Ashley Frazier, Leslie Irizarry and Victoria. I gave them all the information they needed to start my search and within one hour, they had found my nieces who then led me to my 6 brothers and 3 sisters, with one of them being a full sister and one full brother. I couldn’t believe it! I had all this information staring me in the face and because I lacked the knowledge to interpret it correctly, these wonderful “Angels” had given me the answers I had been searching for. I always remembered what the medium had told me… that my “Angels” would give me my answers when they were ready to give it to me. It still gives me chills when I think about it.
So I finally had a name, siblings and parents. Sadly, my mother passed 4 years ago but my sisters tell me that my mother never forgot me. In fact, they had been searching for me as well. My father passed a short time ago as well.
I finally had the truth as told by my sisters…
My mother took me to the local town doctor because I had a skin condition. She had already had two other children and could not afford to have my condition treated. I guess it was just a common practice back then, but the doctor offered to take and raise me. My mother agreed but asked the doctor to not change my name. He agreed. My older sister tells me that my mother never got over having to give me away which is why they had been looking for me. Unfortunately, because of the promise to not change my name, they could never locate me. Seems that the doctor gave me to that “grandfather” I thought was my family, who in turn did give me to his daughter, the woman I always believed was my mother. Unfortunately, she did change my name making it impossible to find me.
So, there it is….at 67 years of age, I finally have my biological family…I finally have siblings, parents, a name, but more importantly, an identity. I can now die at peace knowing the truth.