The Risks Involved In Finding Family

Reunions Can Be Painful And Confusing For All

Brenda H.
Human Parts
Published in
4 min readFeb 26, 2024

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Photo by Karl Magnuson on Unsplash

My mother told me my sister would be calling me. This was fine, except I was 36 years old when I found out I had a sister.

Avoidance is my mother’s middle name. She eventually was going to tell me, my mother said, but my half-sister sped up the timetable for my mother. My newly discovered half-sister planned to call me whether or not my mother had warned me beforehand. Susan had located me, living in another state under a married name. Her goal was to introduce herself to me and break the news that my mother had given up her first daughter for adoption.

My mother refused to reconnect with Susan. My mother had decided to bury her in the grave of painful memories when my grandparents (primarily my grandmother, I believe) made her go to the Salvation Army’s Home for Unwed Mothers. So, when my half-sister, Susan, telephoned me, there was no exhumation for my mother.

When I learned about the adoption, I was horrified at the thought that my family would give up a baby like some families take a dog to the pound. So, I felt compelled to serve as an ambassador for my family and offer reparation for their poor judgment.

With my husband and young son in tow, I met Susan and ate lunch with her and her family. My morbid fascination included staring at her hands and eyes, which were exact replications of my (our) grandmother’s, and fantasizing about my grandmother's responses to the inquisition of my family history.

Susan asked me if I would show her the grave where my (our) grandparents were buried. I don’t know her motivation in wanting this experience with me, but I had an illuminating moment while looking at my grandmother’s grave and realizing, “Ohhhh, I see… If I had been born first, I would have been given away.”

Discovering family skeletons is a lot like going to the cemetery at midnight. Every little noise has a menacing air to it. Every time the phone rang, I thought a ghost was calling.

It was a ghost.

Every conversation with my half-sister took the life out of my warm memories of my grandmother. I started having nightmares about her. My grandmother was trapped and dying in the basement…

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Brenda H.
Human Parts

Writing & reading are life changing. #lifelessons, #spirituality, #aging, #mentalhealth, #language, & #productivity.