Adoption Puzzle
Adoption Puzzle

Deborah's Reunion Story

Key:
"A" before a word= adoptive
ex: afamily= adoptive family
"B" before a word= birth or biological
ex: bfamily= birth family
AMA= against medical advice

My name 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).

My 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.

The Search

I 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.

In 1996 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.

She 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.

It took 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.

Finding 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.

It 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!

First Contact

Actually, 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 searching.

I just 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.

My 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!

The Reunion

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.

We had 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.

We 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.

She 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 everyday.

I 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 again helpless.

At this 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.

Challenging Relations

When 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.

She 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 chaotic.

They 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.

In the 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.

Then...

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.

When I 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 for me.

Revelation

About a 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.

I 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.

I had 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 she made.

I 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 short notice.

One 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.

Reflection

I am 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.

I am 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.

I will 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.

That is 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.

- Deborah

A Reunion Update

Last updated: 09/09/00

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