Adoption

The Emotional Toll Of Adoption Reunion.

Moving beyond the fairy tale narrative.

Mindy Stern
Published in
5 min readOct 18, 2023

--

My first father and me.

We walk along the sandy beach, the four of us. My biological father, his second wife, my husband, me. Low tide pulls Brewster Bay so far out, it looks like we could walk to the edge of the earth.

I prefer calling him, Hal, my “first” father — he is much more than biology. I’m reminded of that now, standing shin high in salty Cape Cod water, admiring the golden sunset, laughing at nothing and everything, his dog Emmett splashing behind us.

55. I am whole, complete.

The miracle of searching for 26 years and landing here, with this man, his glowing white hair and blue eyes shining like mine. Of witnessing he and my husband embrace for the first time, falling into easy conversation.

It’s been 5 years since Hal and I last saw each other. The pandemic, life, ambivalence. Reunion is complicated. He didn’t know about me, my first mother Gloria died before I found her. Even on her death bed, she told no one about me.

Her bastard. Her beauty. Her baby alone in the NICU. She gifted me her chlamydia.

Gloria died one day before my 27th birthday, nine months after being diagnosed with colon cancer. We reunite in my dream, the one where she appears hazy, floating in the sky, calling to me, “Come, please. I love you. I’m sorry,” her hand outstretched like God reaching for Adam.

With Hal, moments like this — together in the sea — are dreamy but sharp, in focus. Unreal and too real. All I ever wanted yet too much to bear.

I found him 5 years ago, via DNA. That year, 2018, I flew to see him twice — first alone, a month later with my then 18 year old son. Hal and my son look — are — so much alike. Those sparkling eyes and that wide smile, that preternatural charm and gentle confidence.

After I returned home from those initial trips, a mystery infection hijacked my body. Perhaps a tick bit me hiking in the Cape Cod woods. Perhaps a savage UTI. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. For seven months, through hospital stays and surgeries and IV antibiotics, my body battled to hold on, to fight back.

--

--