Deborah's Reunion Story
before a word= adoptive
afamily= adoptive family
before a word= birth or biological
bfamily= birth family
against medical advice
is Deborah and I'm an adoptee who was reunited in
June of 1996 with my Birth Mother and her side of the
family. I was born and adopted in 1969 out of
Portland Oregon into a wonderful family I love and
adore. I have 5 Asibs the three oldest are my parents
biological children and youngest two not,
biologically related to each other are adopted (I'm
the baby of the bunch).
Aparents have always been open and honest about my
adoption and always spoke lovingly of my Bmom. My
Aparents have always supported my choice to search.
They knew from the time I was little that searching
wouldn't be a matter of "IF" just "WHEN"
and as with most everything else they were right.
When I turned 18 they told me that if I wanted to
search they would help me as much as they could. We
sent away for my non-identifying info and a copy of
the adoption decree (my Aparents copy had gotten lost
in a previous move). The non-id was pretty basic but,
I found out I had an older sister (still the baby).
When we received the copy of the Decree we were
surprised that my Bmom's name was on it. My Amom had
remembered her last name from overhearing the social
worker in the hall when they adopted me, but I now
had her first and middle name and DOB. Should be
fairly easy to track down huh? That was not to be.
searched for 4 years and even hired a P.I and got no
where. It seems as if my Bmom was a figment of
everybody's imagination. No social security number,
drivers license, or previous employment past the year
of 1970. We could not locate a marriage or death for
her in any State. It seems by Bmom joined the witness
protection program well, almost.
I found a searcher in Oregon who charged almost
nothing and did some poking around for me. She found
a divorce with the same last name as my Bmom and she
was listed as one of their children. She had found
proof that Bmom did indeed exist and she had a
BROTHER and a SISTER.
suggested I try to get my birth records from the
hospital using my Bmoms name. I did and they sent
them to me and in it was a copy of my OBC with my
Bmom's signature on it. Then a friend of mine (who is
a dispatcher) did me a favor they should not really
have done. They ran my Buncles(men's names rarely
change) name through the computer and there he was
"WANTED" by the "FBI" and the
"State Police" in the state of Washington.
exactly FOUR days after that to find out that my Bmom
had an extensive criminal history mostly having to do
with drugs and theft. She had six aliases (one of
which was my Bsisters name), four social security
numbers that weren't hers and she had out standing
warrants in Oregon. This was were I took a short
break in my search. I needed time to sort out all
this information I'd found in such a short amount of
time and put things back into perspective.
out my Bmoms history was quite a shock to my system.
I grew up way on the other side of that track but,
that was where I was going if it meant meeting my
Bmom and Bsis. When my break was over we found my
Bgrandmothers obit she'd died just three months
before. I called the funeral home and told them I
wanted to contact the next of kin. They asked me who
I was to her and I told them I was her granddaughter.
Now that's not really lying is it? Well, they gave me
what I thought was my BAunts phone number and the
only thing left to do was to call.
wasn't my Baunt it was a Buncle I did not know about.
My Adad (who made contact on my behalf) explained
that he was trying to locate his sister and did he
have a number for her. He said they didn't get along
and he'd have to contact his other sister my Baunt.
He gave my Adad the number and he called. He told my
Baunt exactly who he was and why he was calling. She
said that yes, her sister gave a child up, but they
were told it was a boy. She also said that one of the
children had died so, he must be mistaken. He told
her we had a copy of the birth certificate and could
we send them a copy to verify we had the right
people? She said sure and we over night expressed it
to her. Two days later my Adad got a phone call from
my Baunt. I WAS THE CHILD that my Bmom had
relinquished. It was her signature and she was found!
Almost... unfortunately my Bmom was kind of homeless
and stayed with various friends and my Baunt didn't
know how to contact her. She said that she stopped by
at least once a week but she'd talked to her when she
saw her next. It felt like forever!
it was two weeks. My Adad called again because I
could wait no longer. My Baunt was glad he called (her
phone had been disconnected and she no longer had
long distance) she said yes, she had spoken with my
Bmom but, there were some things she needed to tell
us before this went any further. She began to tell my
Adad about the arrest records and the fact that my
Bmom was a heroin addict. She said that all of the
family has had trouble with drugs and/or alcohol. She
herself was on methadone for her addiction. She then
said that there was something else she needed to say
and asked my Adad if I was there. I was already on
the phone so I spoke up. We said hello and kind of
went through the motions. She then told me what she
needed to say. My Bsis was raised by the family but
had died three days after her 21st birthday of a drug
related heart condition. The very same year I started
couldn't believe it. When I found out I had a Bsister
it became ever more important for me to search. I
wanted to know her so badly that I dreamed about it
at night. Her name was Michelle and it broke my heart
that I would never hold my sister in my arms. I found
out that Shelly had two children the first she kept
and the second she relinquished just like my Bmom.
When Shelly died her daughter Tiffany was also placed
up for adoption. She would be twelve now so, I have 6
years until I can search for her. I called the State
of Oregon and they told me to call back when she was
eighteen and I most certainly will.
Baunt said my Bmom wanted me to know the truth and
then if I still wanted contact she would call from my
Baunts house collect. I absolutely still wanted
contact and told Baunt to call me anytime collect. My
Bmom kept putting the phone call off and I kept
calling my Baunt to find out if she'd seen her. It
seemed like FOREVER and then one day my Baunt called
me and said your Bmoms here hold on I'm going to put
her on the phone she doesn't know I called you. I
heard her in the background calling for my Bmom and
she came in my Baunt said to her "I called your
daughter for you". I almost fainted! She did get
on the phone and we talked for 3hrs about our lives.
She said she was afraid to call because, she thought
I would be disappointed by her. I told her that
nothing she did could ever make me not love her. Her
life may have been hard and mixed up but she gave me
the most precious gift. Life! The gift of life in
more ways than one!
month later my Aparents and myself drove to Portland
to meet my Bfamily not just my Bmom everyone. I now
had two Aunts, four Uncles and five cousins all ready
and wanting to meet me. I felt like a celebrity (NOT!).
The reunion was absolutely the most gratifying
experience of my life. I look just like my Baunt and
got to see a lot of pictures and got to take some
home too. The most precious one I got is the one of
Shelly and Tiffany together. I gave my Bmom a silver
locket with my picture on one side and Shelly's on
the other. She loved it! I will never forget that day
no matter how old and decrepit I get.
a really good day that day. For the first time in my
life I actually got to look into someone's face and
see part of myself. My Baunt and I look so much a
like that even her son said she should be my Bmom. I
don't look anything like my Bmom really but, it
really would be hard to tell anymore. She'd been
using drugs for so long that they had taken a
definite toll on her body. She had almost no use of
her right arm because, of her continuous needle use.
She had scars everywhere to remind herself of what
she had done to her body. She looked like a frail old
woman but she really was only 46. My heart ached for
her. She along with everyone else stayed sober that
day per, my request. It meant a lot to me she kept
her promise even for one day.
continued to talk on the phone once a week. I made
arrangements for my Bmom to call me collect every
Wednesday. I helped her get into counseling, to a
methadone clinic along with NA and a Doctors visit.
She did so well, for eight weeks. Then it started
happening. She would miss our Wednesday phone call
and call me the next Tuesday. I'd been down to visit
once since the initial reunion and had given her 6hrs
of pre-paid phone cards. She started calling me
collect before her time was even close to being up.
Then it happened, I got a phone call, but it wasn't
my Bmom it was my Baunt. My Bmom was in the hospital
she had over-dosed, but she was going to live. I
called her every day in the hospital and she
continually told me how sorry she was and not to hate
her. I kept telling her I could never hate her and it
was the truth. I loved her. When she got out of the
hospital she refused to get help. She'd been through
every program there was and none of them worked. She
said she could do it on her own.
called faithfully for four weeks and then the phone
calls stopped. Three weeks went by and nothing. I
talked to my Baunt and she hadn't seen her. She told
me that this was not unusual and that it meant she
was using heavily. I didn't know what to do, I wanted
to help her so badly yet, there was absolutely
nothing I could do. I wanted to search for her but
didn't know where to start. I called and talked to my
Baunt again and she told me " Honey, there is
nothing you CAN do, we have known her all our lives
and WE can't even find her." My Baunt called two
weeks later. My Bmom had been arrested and was in
jail but she was also very sick. The jail transported
her to the hospital. She had gotten a really bad
infection that started in her arm, but was now in her
blood stream. They needed to put her on an I.V. to
keep her alive. She didn't have any veins left stable
enough for an I.V. so they put one directly into her
heart. I called everyday to find out her condition.
Three days later she was able to talk. She said she
would be in the hospital for at least six weeks and
everyone was nice to her. I continued to call
called everyday for three weeks and then one day I
called the hospital and they informed me she was no
longer there. I was a little confused so, I asked
when she was released. She told me that my Bmom had
snuck out of the hospital AMA with the heart shunt
still in. I went ballistic and I said you mean to
tell me that a known heroine addict with a shunt
going directly into her heart was able to leave your
hospital undetected? She said they could not prevent
anyone from leaving and that they weren't the police.
I knew she was right. I hung up the phone and
completely lost it. I cried so hard that I gave
myself a migraine. She could use the shunt to put
drugs directly into her heart and from what they told
me it makes the effect around five times stronger.
She could overdose five times easier. Here I was once
point my "reunion" was starting to really
effect my life. I was living in constant fear that
the phone would ring. I jumped every time it did. I
work from home so, it was very easy for this to
consume my life. Everyone around me saw what it was
doing to me and they stood by knowing that I needed
to go through this. It was hardest on my Amom as she
was also half adopted and lived through a very tough
childhood. She does not fair well when people hurt
her "babies", but she knew this was one
time she could not protect me. I mostly stayed home
because, I was afraid my Bmom might try to call. She
didn't for six weeks.
she finally called she sounded very tired. I told her
what I'd been going through and she said she was
sorry. It might sound strange but to this day I
believe her. I told her I could not help her if she
didn't want help, but I'd be there if she did. I will
never forget those next words she said. "I have
lived so long like this I don't know any other way I
just want it to be over. With everything I've done to
myself I should be dead yet, I live. Your sister
Shelly would still be alive if I'd given her up too.
She was young and strong and she died doing exactly
what I've done to myself for thirty some years and,
my body won't give up so, why did Shelly's?" For
this I had no answer. I told her that I loved her and
that all I could ask was that she try. She said she
would but she didn't know if she could stay clean.
She also told me she had taken out the heart shunt
herself and she hadn't used it to take drugs.
lasted two weeks. I got a call from my Baunt telling
me that my Bmom was back in the hospital and they
might have to amputate part of her arm and her foot.
The infection was back with a vengeance and she was
showing signs of gangue-green in her toes and heal.
The heart shunt was put back in and she was on
constant antibiotics. I called and talked to her and
she was hysterical. She said that she knew she did
this to herself but, she wasn't going to let them cut
her body off. I ached so badly for her and yes, she
did this to herself but, she was a broken woman who
had a disease. I called her everyday and we had some
really good talks. I know it's strange but I was glad
she was in the hospital. She couldn't do drugs and I
knew where she was. It made my life a lot less
didn't amputate her foot and arm. Not, because she
refused to let them but, because she was actually
getting better! They released her from the hospital
into a nursing home until she could get around better.
My other Baunt decided to let Bmom come stay with her
and she would take care of her. The State paid her
and, it was much cheaper for them than a nursing home.
I liked this idea because, my Baunt could watch out
for her and help her stay clean. Unfortunately, it
did not happen that way.
year and a half that I knew my Bmom she overdosed
five times and every time she survived and went on to
continually abuse herself with drugs. I thought her
living with my Baunt was the perfect opportunity for
her to "get better". She had my Baunt to
take care of her and she was away from the people she
used drugs with. She was getting stronger and did so
well... for about six weeks.
I got a
call from my Baunt to tell me that she found my Bmom
collapsed on the floor after running some errands.
She told me she was in the hospital, paralyzed on her
left side and they thought she had a stroke and may
not make it. I called the hospital only to find out
that my Baunt had lied to me. My Bmom had not had a
stroke she had taken a "speed ball" which I
found out later is a combination of meth-amphetamines,
cocaine and heroine. My Bmom had overdosed again. I
finally got the truth from my Baunt. She lied because
she was afraid I would be mad at her. She told me my
Bmom had been using again for two weeks. Once again I
called everyday to see how she was doing and the
Doctors did not give her much hope. Then one day I
called and wouldn't you know it she had woken up and
once again was going to live. They told me to call
back the next day and they would hold the phone so I
could talk to her. They told me the first think she
asked when she woke up was "Has my daughter
called?" They told her I had called everyday.
called the next day the nurse held the phone for her
so she could talk. She asked me if I still loved her
and I told her I did. We talked every day and she
continued to get better. She was moving both sides of
her body and was able to walk. Once again she was on
the mend. Meanwhile, once again this "reunion"
was taking a toll on my life. I was neglecting my
love ones and other important things in my life. I
was simply existing to make those phone calls. I was
depressed and did not recognize it. Everything would
make me cry I couldn't bear to watch TV because the
shows and commercials would start me going again. I
was so afraid that my Bmom would disappear on me
again. I never really felt abandoned by my Bmom
growing up but her disappearing on me made it so real
week later I woke up after 9hrs of sleep and I felt
completely drained. It was as if I'd had not slept in
over 24hrs. It was then that I had my "revelation".
I could not help my Bmom but I could help myself. I
knew I could no longer be on the emotional roller
coaster I was riding. I had given every ounce of my
being to someone who was incapable of having any kind
of real relationship with me. I was raw like a
freshly scrapped knee that was cleaned with peroxide.
continued to call my Bmom everyday and I told her
once again how I felt. I told her that I could not
continue to go on this way. She was going to have to
make a decision. She would have to go into "in
house" treatment straight from the hospital
after she was released. She would have to follow the
Doctors instructions to get better. She would have to
follow through with the treatment and get a sponsor.
I would stand beside her every inch of the way and
she could call me at any time. It was up to her and
if she chose not to follow through I could no longer
allow myself to be part of her life. For the first
time I had set some rules not just for her but for me.
told my Bmom that I would give her a couple days to
really think about what I had said. I told her I
realized this would be very difficult for her and I
was so sorry it had come to this. I told her I still
loved her and always would no matter what decision
called her two days later and she gave me her
decision. She would do it. If it meant having me in
her life she would follow through with everything I
had said. I told her that she couldn't do it just for
me and that it had to be for her too. She promised me
it was what she wanted and she knew she couldn't do
it on her own. I continued to call her everyday and
she continued to get better. I had a social worker
make all the arrangements and she saw my Bmom
everyday. She set her up with a sponsor and found a
place to take her for in house care. That was not
easy it's very hard to find an opening especially on
week before my Bmom was to be released to treatment I
called the hospital for my daily chat. I was informed
that my Bmom had disappeared during the night without
her belongings. The hospital had called the police
and they were on the lookout for her. I haven't
talked to my Bmom since she the day she left the
hospital. Sticking to my decision was the hardest
thing I've ever done and just thinking about it
breaks my heart. I to this day love my Bmom with all
my heart. I realized I could not live my Bmom's life
for her and I must start reliving mine.
often asked that knowing what I do about my Bfamily
would I search again? My answer is yes. That very
first day I had with my Bfamily is worth every bit of
heartbreak in every day since.
I no longer have contact with anyone in my Bfamily it
was just too hard to be so involved with their lives.
Some good came out of this reunion for me. I no
longer feel like a piece of me is missing. I no
longer wonder about where I came from. When I go to
the Doctors I now have a medical history. I can now
identify with whom I look like. I now can just be me.
closer to my Aparents than I ever thought possible.
It was as if I re-bonded with them in a way I hadn't
when I was a child. I have wonderful brothers and a
sister I am now closer to than I ever thought I would
be. I have 5 Nephews and 3 Nieces that I love more
than life itself. My sister not only has honored me
be her daughters Auntie but, her godmother as well.
always have a place in my heart for a Bmother who
lived a life so full of pain that the only way she
could cope was to take the pain away with drugs. She
did such a loving thing for me by giving me a chance
at life that she herself knew she could not give me.
I can't help feeling guilty sometimes that I was
given a chance at life that my Bsister Shelly never
had. She did not know what stability was and never
knew that life could be different from the drug
infested one she grew up in. My only wish is that her
two daughters have a chance at life and are with
loving and caring parents.
the base of my story. There are other parts to it but
these are the most important facts. I thank you for
taking the time to read it, as it has been difficult
but a cleansing process to write. I have cried many
tears in re-living this for you, but it was just as
much if not more for myself.
Last updated: 09/09/00