I haven't written yet about the day the mothership landed, more than 27 years after I'd been stranded alone on an alien planet and taken in by kind strangers. I expect I will someday, when I can figure out how to put it all together.
I bawl every time I watch E.T.
Suffice it to say, as an adult adoptee, meeting my birthmother for the first time felt a lot like crash-landing on the home planet. Aha. So this is where I come from. Of course. Naturally. As if there could be any question.
Ellen, my birthmother, was eager to be found. We'd both attempted searching through the years, only to hit walls and give up for the time being. So when state law changed to allow for "medically necessary" searches, I might have coughed a little bit extra and exaggerated a few skipped heartbeats. (At the very least, every adoptee should be entitled to a full and current familial medical history, IMO.)
Less than a week later, through the adoption agency's confidential intermediary, we discovered that we lived an hour apart. We spoke on the phone for the first time that night and made plans to meet the following. That was over 12 years ago.
But this blog isn't about Ellen. It's about my other bioparent. Doug. The one who wasn't so eager to be found.
When the agency initially contacted Doug back in 1997, he cordially declined contact. Said things were difficult; the timing wasn't right; he had a sick wife; thanks, but no thanks.
That was OK. Sure, it stung a little, but finding my birthmom had been my real priority. And the giant, welcoming arms of the maternal side of my birthfamily for the most part slaked my thirst for knowledge. Of who I was. Where I came from. I had Ellen, I had my birth-aunts and uncles, I had three new half-brothers, even grandparents. And the stories. All their stories. A giant Irish Catholic clan with nearly 30 years of stories to tell=a lot of laughter and a lot of heartspace.
So I got to know Doug first through Ellen--through a couple of Polaroids of the two of them, heading out to Prom in Peoria, 1967. Through her stories of their meeting in high school theatre; of their "first love" relationship; of his magnificent singing voice; of the three years they spent together; of their breakup when he fell in love with another girl; of her subsequent discovery that she was pregnant. He married the other girl, joined the Air Force, shipped out. She "went away," had me, and gave me up.
And that was that.
A couple of years after our reunion, Ellen decided to move to Chicago, where I had moved with my incredibly accomplished, incredibly tolerant Ex-Husband in his quest for a Ph.D. He didn't object when I said, "Let's have her stay with us for a few months!" And so she did.
Doug also lives in Chicago.
I suppose it was inevitable that one night, a bottle of wine or two into the evening, Ellen would offer to write The Letter. To make a personal overture to Doug on my behalf. To say, "Hey, this kid we made--she's OK. You should really get to know her."
I still don't know exactly what she put in that letter, but two days later, the phone rang. It was Doug, sounding a wee bit sheepish if I do say so myself. We arranged for coffee. Coffee was fun, so we arranged a dinner. And so on, and so on. So I heard the rest of the stories. How he'd returned from active duty and become an air traffic controller. How the first marriage hadn't worked out, but I had two paternal half-sibs in Peoria. How he'd met his fantastic wife (he'd flung himself into her lap one fateful night during a dinner theatre production--wait, did I skip the part where Ronald Reagan fired him and all the other air traffic controllers, so, very logically he decided to change careers and become an actor/standup comedian? I did skip that part. Huh. Anyway, he was playing the King the night night he met his bride, who is a gorgeous and funny woman not much older than me. You know what they say...it's good to be the king.)
Through my remaining years in Chicago, Doug and I spent a great fat lot of quality time together, and I grew to genuinely love him as a human being and a friend. Even if he weren't my father, I'd still be delighted to know him.
Anyway, he and his lovely lady are out here on the Left Coast right now, and so tonight, I get to see them. I'm stoked.
"Can't wait to see you," I just chirped into the cell phone, having made arrangements to get together for the best sushi in San Diego.
"Can't wait right back," said my father.
Sometimes, life's goooooooood.