It’s still strange to me that I get to have relationships with people who were once just a fact on a page.
I had a closed adoption. So the only information I had about my birth parents and their families was what was written in the Non-identifying Information packet. This is what it looked like when it came to Uncle Ed…
But lucky for me he is no longer just a fact on a page, he’s my uncle and one I’m really happy to have.
He reached out to me on Facebook shortly after me & my birth mom met for the first time. I sent him my email address and the first line in his first email was….
I have been looking forward to knowing you since the beginning of you.
(( Then there was other stuff in there too, but that’s for me!))
The ending said:
I am here for anything you need and anytime. It is really whatever you want.
It’s been over a year since he first contacted me and said that and he has stood by his word and has been there for me ever since in more ways than he actually knows. He’s been somebody that I can talk too that sits in the middle and can see it from both angles. My birth mom is his sister, so he knows her. Whereas I don’t but I want too and he is a great soundboard to help me understand certain things about her that are sometimes intimidating for me to try and ask.
Most of my life, I aspired to one day find my birth mom. I was always apprehensive to do so because I always worried that it would go bad and she wouldn’t want a relationship with me. Getting a relationship with her seemed unrealistic so I never ever would of thought that I’d have any real relationships with anyone in her family besides her. She was the only one I cared to know and the only one I thought would maybe care to know me. I never saw the wider picture, I was laser focused on meeting her & never would have thought I’d get additional relationships out of it too. So getting to have a cool ( but actually lame ) Uncle Ed and his family in my life is a definite bonus I didn’t expect.
The first time we met was at a backyard BBQ that my birth mom had a few weeks after our reunion. This was after a few email exchanges between him and I. So I was communicating with him but I was still extremely nervous to meet him & the rest of the family. I was in her basement as I heard his loud voice talking upstairs. I smiled the whole way up the stairs to meet him because I knew he was my kind of people with that loud mouth. So straight off the bat it was never weird with him. He made myself & my family feel extremely welcome.
We’ve had lots of fun opportunities to get together, one of my favorites was when my husband and I got to go watch his son/my cousin Tyson’s high school football game. I don’t know why it was so cool to me. But it was, we got to sit next to him & his wife and chat & tell stories and listen to him complain about the game. But it was especially cool to hear him introduce me to his friends. He’d say this is my niece Jenni. That might sound simple and dumb but it was a surreal moment that I’ll never forget. He – my biological family member was including me as his family & to me the “adoptee” that is a pretty remarkable feeling.
It feels like me and the bald man go way back. So I felt ok asking him if he’d write a little bit about his perspective in this whole adoption experience & he said he was in. So here is what he had to say…..
MY UNCLE ED’S PERSPECTIVE:
I was in 8th grade when I found out my sister was pregnant. I had known for some weeks and she was worried about telling my mom. Before she was pregnant she was outspoken and fairly wild in my perspective. However, not unlike many teenagers her age. When I found out I was in denial I think. I was in 8th grade and living in a town where teenage pregnancy wasn’t abnormal. I still remember my mom sitting down with me and telling me that my sister was pregnant. I informed my mom that I had known for a short while. I could see my mom look defeated. In the course of the following months it was clear to me why my mom looked defeated on that night. In my sister, she saw the potential and opportunities that she didn’t feel like she had. When I was told that my sister was going to move to another city for her pregnancy and adoption process, I was confused. My sister and I were close and both she and my mom seemed to put their heads down and push through. With time I saw the life my sister had and I knew that she was not in any place to provide a good life for a child. I knew that if my sister kept the baby, my mom would raise the child. And after 7 kids, I knew that was a horrible idea.
During her pregnancy I would visit her in the city where she was. What I found interesting was that she seemed to do very well in that foster family. She went to high school there and had good friends. When her baby was born, nothing was communicated to the family. I was next oldest and I don’t remember any conversations about the birth. I do remember my sister coming home and being different. I could see that she was quieter and different. From my perspective, our relationship changed when she came home. We didn’t talk as much. She regressed (in my opinion) back into the behavior pattern from before the pregnancy. So it was no surprise when I found out that she was pregnant for the second time.
This second pregnancy was different. My mom went from appearing defeated to angry and a little crazy. My mom in a way, gave up. I know that because two of my other sisters were on a very similar behavior path as my older sister and my mom just didn’t seem to care. This second pregnancy I was angry that she was giving that child up for adoption as well. Now there would be a niece and a nephew in the world that I would never be able to meet. Her second pregnancy seemed very different. The foster family wasn’t as good. My sister seemed even more withdrawn than the first. For me, the only bright spot was that both babies were going to be raised as brother and sister.
I went on my mission and when I came back I could see just how different my sister was. From an outsiders perspective she got a degree and a good job. She got married and had tons of friends. However, when I would talk to her, everything stayed on the surface. My sister seemed completely closed off. Between 1992 and 2018 we had only two short conversations about her kids. I would ask her about the kids and she would talk very briefly and move on to another subject. I would occasionally wonder, mostly around holidays, about the kids. As my other siblings would have kids I was angry because I didn’t get a chance to know the kids of the sister I was much closer to. I wondered if I had maybe ever been in the same town as them. And I actually did live in the same town as them for 2 years.
Then in 2018 my sister told me that you had contacted her. I was very excited and supported you two getting together. My sister was surprised at how much I was interested in getting to know you. I thought that was strange. I didn’t want to get in the way of yours and my sister’s relationship, but I also wasn’t going to let her stop me from knowing you. It was her choice in the adoption. I chose to create a relationship with you regardless of how my sister felt. You and I had communicated several times through email so meeting you for the first time was awesome. As soon as you opened your mouth I could tell we were related (not a good thing for you.)
As I look back on the whole situation and knowing you I am undecided. From my perspective I was comforted by the thought that you were completely fulfilled not being a part of our family. My family is a little odd. So, before I got to know you I would have said that adoption was a good thing. Now that I know you I still think it was good for you. I don’t want to imagine the path you would have been on if my sister would have raised you. Selfishly though, I felt like I could have added (positive and negative) to your life.
Thanks Uncle Ed for sharing your experience. It’s so interesting to fill in gaps to parts of this story that I’d never known before. This adoption reunion is like the never ending puzzle & finding each new piece is still one of my favorite parts about this journey!
I’m grateful he’s my uncle & that he is helping me navigate through this!
Love ya longtime EDDY!