How a former rock goddess unlocked the secrets of my adoptee past.
My math, which is admittedly sub-par, put Barb at about sixty-eight. My mind painted her as grey-haired, apple-cheeked, and grandmotherly. I expected a whisper of a woman–a sort of folksong, maybe smooth jazz. I got nothing of the sort. What I got was pure rock and roll.
“Welcome to the family!” she gushed. She sounded more Gen Z than Boomer, her voice syrupy sweet, girly, and loud. I reduced the volume on my earbuds. She was not a soft-spoken woman.“I just knew you’d find us someday. What took you so long?”
What took me so long? Well, it took me 49 years to begin my search, to admit to myself I even wanted to search. That was followed by about a year of frantic digging, bounding down rabbit holes, combing through formerly sealed and still somewhat redacted records, and deciphering DNA. I found nearly everyone BUT my biological mother. I had all but given up as the new year opened with me, and the mystery of me, unresolved.
That very month, though, January of 2020, everything sped up, like a record played at the wrong speed. With the assistance of a Confidential Intermediary/Searcher, I was able to confirm both the identity and death of my biological mother. Then, Surprise: It’s a boy! Turns out, my mother had another baby 18 years after me. The intermediary found and contacted my half-brother. A week later, said brother phoned me and, upon discovering we lived in the same city, invited me to lunch.
It was the first time I’d ever seen my face in someone else’s. I saw myself in him, the first biological relative I’d ever met, and in faded photos of our shared mother. He’d brought a photo album. My hands trembled as I turned the pages.
I tried not to gasp audibly at every photo in his mother-son memory book, tried not to cry or reach out and poke his face to ensure he was real, that this was actually happening. Part of me wanted to hug him, this younger version of me. Part of me burned with jealousy, for he was the one she kept. All of me sat in awe, the world spinning around me as he shared tidbits of the life I’d missed. He, in turn…