Verbal Remedy AKA Denise

Verbal Remedy AKA Denise
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Del Mar, California, The One That's In A State Of Steep Decline
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January 18
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Columnist, http://www.doesthismakesense.com
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Born. Grew up. Kept growing up. Started growing older. Still at both the growing up and growing older. Stay tuned.

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FEBRUARY 24, 2009 12:07PM

Seeing my Father Tonight

Rate: 59 Flag

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.

 

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yipee, whoo hooo, adoption, reunion

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Did I mention that both theatricality and an Irish sense of humor appear to be genetic traits? Because there isn't a theatrical bone in my Italian/Slovak family's collective body...and yet somehow, I ended up a drama geek.
I am not going to look it up right now, and you shouldn't because it is a downer, but search for "Shriners". It'll tell you about my father.
[[Priddy]]

I'm actually having to run away to a few hours' worth of meetings right now but I promise I'll read that later. I'm sorry...
Verbal this story just brightened my day immensely.
Thank you. Rated
How incredibly totally wonderful! I am so happy for you to be seeing a father/friend that you really enjoy. I think my daughters would appreciate their dad a lot more if he had been physically absent during their growning up, rather than just emotionally. There is really something to the inherited connection. You are very lucky in this friendship!
Good for you! :) Have a wonderful time tonight!!!
You come from good stock, woman. It shines through in every word you write. They are so luck to have you. Have a great time tonight. Cheers, mate!
From one drama geek to another: good for you!
Ah, that's a great story. I've heard quite a few of these "finding the bio parents" stories and often they don't go well. I'm so happy yours did, on both sides.
Lovely story. Happy endings to adoption searches are so rare. Yay for you. Beautifully told. Have fun tonight.
I thank you for your story. There is some crazy good writing going on today, and this just lifted my spirits.
Yay! My biological father checked out when I was an infant, and I've never met him since -- thing is, I hear he was an asshole, and so I'm pretty sure I don't need to; Mom made a great one-handed catch. Still, it must be nice to meet this new person and discover that they're cool and that you are like them, and so many things can be explained.

Enjoy the sushi!
This is a marvelous story, Verbal. You deserve the happy ending--even better, it's not an ending.
What a lovely story, Verbal. I knew my own father much too well; and my mother too, sad to say. I doubt there will be any happy endings on that score for me. It's always nice to hear about someone else's success and happiness with their parents, and perhaps even because of the circumstances, yours is quite exceptional.

My success has been as a father...
What beautiful story, and one that strikes too close to home for reasons I don't care to get into.
Um, excuse me (lumps in throat). I’m a softie for father/children stories now that I’ve got a couple sons in my house. This is such a sweet tale. Thanks for sharing it.
This so awesome. As a parent of two adopted daughters let me says how very, very happy I am for you. Rated.
Ah, Verbal, what a great story, pierced right through the rain here today. Happy for all of you! Have a great dinner, tell us about that too....Mmm sushi....
I am so happy for you! Sometimes life is grand. Last night I dreamed someone was pouring champagne for me. Let's take it as a good omen.
How refreshing to hear such a positive reunion story, as many others have said these events are often disappointing or worse.
fabulous. i love a happy ending.
Oh, this makes my heart sing... it's so great when it works out the way it has for you. "Hey, this kid we made--she's OK" indeed...
Wow, this is great for you! I'm glad you all get along so fabulously. It doesn't always work out that way, ya know.
Great story. Good news. Dad tells stories and so does daughter. Genes rule for better of for worse. I have a friend now who just went through the same thing. Found out both her birth parents are phd's in psychology, which she is also. She got along better with the dad than the mom, but the daughters were the problem. You can't make this stuff up.
VR, . . Come on now, cheer up. I hate to hear you down like this...OMG, I can hear you squealing right through the screen. This is such an upper, who needs crack? Seriously, have a great time tonite. You deserve it!.
I am glad that you get to see Dad. They are lucky to have you and you, them.
Good for you, D. You had me holding my breath at the beginning of the story, since I thought tonight was going to be your *first* meeting with bio-dad. Instead, how great is it that you already have forged what seems to be a wonderful relationship with both bio-families? And I love the "theater genes" thing---how amazing that whole apple/tree theory is.
Wonderful story. Have a great time!
Lots of good vibes moving your way for a great time on the town.
Rated for the good stuff in life.
ah, that's a great story. i love that.
What a great story! It proves that there is hope for adoptees wanting to connect with their birth parents.

My birth father tried to connect with me when I was 19 but emotionally I couldn't do it (my mother's alcholism, homelessness, etc., was too much.) I tried to connect with him several years later and he wouldn't do it. Apparently Italian men hate to be rejected and rarely forgive. He died a few years ago so now I've lost my chance forever. Good for you for not blowing your opportunity to meet him.

I'm glad to hear that your story has a happy ending. Enjoy your visit!
This is so heartwarming!
So happy you all found each other! Have a wonderful time together.
Congrats. You are lucky.
Good for you. (rated)
Happy for you and sad for all the guys who never made that call.
I'm happy that you're keeping connected with all your found peeps.

Drama geek, huh?

Makes me think of a couple of drama queens I used to know, one was named Camille if I remember correctly...oh, but that's another story.
I love stories with happy endings, VR. Thanks for sharing this.
I like happy middles. Hopefully, they lead to happy endings as well. But you have a long way to go before that.

Thumbed. Sometimes, life is better than CHOCOLATE. :-D
This might be a big clue as to why I imagine you to be so full of substance, light and laughter.
Mr. Remedy is one fortunate guy.

Terrific piece.
:D very cool! Like someone else said, it doesn't usually happen that way, so it's extra special when it does. Hope tonight is full of love and happy moments.
Congrats! And, I like your writing style.
Jesus, this was courageous. The operative in adoption must be fear. Will I be "good " enough? Certainly Doug has nothing to be ashamed of; he has made a grand contribution to the human specie. I'll sign an affidavit of you like :-0
Lovely story. It's great that it's turned out well for you.
"Crazy good writing" says it best. And what a great result...I'm still upset about PATCO/Reagan, btw.
I'm so happy for you. But mostly I'm jealous. I got stuck with lousy adoptive/step-parents, and completely did not fit into any of my three families, so I always wanted to know my birthparents and see if maybe I fit in there. But I was also worried that they might be even worse than the ones I got stuck with, so I never went through with it. I'd sure like to know who I got this chin from, though....

Enjoy your evening with Pa. :)
I really liked this.

Thank you.
A sincere thanks to everybody who dropped by to comment.

Especially those of you who said it was a day brightener.

By way of deeper background, I'm painfully aware that most search & reunion tales are not as blessed as this one. I was always aware that I was a "chosen child," and my parents were both supportive of my desire to search from my early teens on. Mom and Dad were both willing to help, but the legal walls were simply too high back then.

Had a wonderful time last night. Doug's wife still has that chronic illness he mentioned at the start, but she's a model of grace and a sparkling wit. I really miss seeing them.

We had some of Mr. Remedy's homebrew, did the 2-hour sushi thing, came back to my place and hung out on the porch sipping tasty beverages and talking politics until very, very late.

Now for the individual notes:

Dyno, I'm glad you've been able to give your kids what you didn't have.

Ben--I've heard too many strange "coincidence" stories surrounding adoptees and their birthclan to think that "nurture" is more than, say, 20% of things.

Somyr, we went to Sushi Ota and dropped $90/person. Worth every penny. :-)

Jimmy, I'm grateful to Ellen for being willing to intrude one last time on a guy she hadn't seen since they were both kids. Had it not been for that noodge, I'd have missed out on a great friend.

Merc--I'm rather relieved that there is no extant videotape of Luce & Camille. ;-)

Scoub--I'm not sure how courageous it was, really. Not knowing who you came from is more an unscratchable itch, or a hole in the soul. I was fully prepared to find folks with very few of their teeth living under a tire pile in a garbage dump; the fact that it turned out better was just gravy.

Larry, My Mom has met and spent a good deal of time with Ellen (with and without me) through the years; Doug came out for the wedding to Mr. Remedy 5 years ago, so they've met too. That was a really wonderful occasion--Ellen and Doug saw each other for the first time since before I was born at the beach get-together beforehand, and my maternal b-grandmother, who'd been especially wistful for his singing voice, got a personal private serenade at the piano in the bar while the rest of us were eating dinner. We even had a combined-family cruise last year with what's left of my maternal a-family and several members of my maternal b-family!

So sorry to hear about the situation, merwoman. (I've only managed to forge a friendship with Mom since becoming and adult, so I hear you about the "bad fit growing up" thing.)

Hugs to everybody.
Gotta love those happy beginnings. I tried (& failed) to find a friend's birth parents. Wow! Much emotion & so many searching.

I'm grew up in the same era as your birthparents, babyboomer, Catholic too, & back then "single" & "mom" were just 2 words & they didn't go together. One of my friends was "in trouble" as they used to say. We were juniors in high school & she couldn't hide it anymore. She was whisked away to the Catholic Home for Unwed Mothers. Her boyfriend since 7th grade, the father, was forbidden to see her. She had the baby, came home alone, returned to school & the boyfriend. They got married a few years later, had kids they could keep & are still married today. The "baby" will be 40 years old this year.

I often wonder . . .
-if they found their "Love Child" (1968 The Supremes)

How different things were. You either gave up the baby or married the boy. These were more responsible choices than today's kids having kids.

Did I mention an Irish sense of humor, a Swedish blonde, Italian - well you know . . . and, I live in OB!
Thanks, Denise. It's something that non-adoptees have a hard time "getting." I figured you would. Just makes me feel kind of wistful. I'm so glad for you that you did find your parents, and that they were good people.
This really made me smile. I am happy your journey has had a happy ending... or should I say a happy new beginning.... :)
I am so happy for you and Doug. I confess I wasn't ancipated a happy ending when I saw your post title.
How nice, how nice, how nice!! Life is good and sweeeeet sometimes. I´m happy for you!
You know what struck me about this piece? Your openness, patience and tolerance surrounding the whole process.

Being a person with a constant, weighty chip on my shoulder, I just liked your attitude surrounding the meeting and the whole "big picture" life process of getting to know your family in all its facets.

Could you send me a cup of that? Whatever it is?