I was 26 years old and two weeks away from my wedding day when my mom said she had some news for me. She handed me my birth certificate and told me about my biological father – I was adopted.
My mother was very young when she got pregnant with me. As you can imagine, she was at a loss with what to do. How would she take care of me? How was she going to finish school? Would the father want anything to do with the baby? First thing was first, she had to tell him.
My mother went over to his house to give him the news, but she never got the chance. His mom wouldn’t allow them to see each other. She had no other choice than to carry on through the pregnancy without his knowledge. My mom always wanted what was best for me, so she had to decide – she was going to give me up for adoption after I was born. My Nana (grandmother) assured her she would help raise me and together they would figure it out, but my mom wasn’t sure. My Nana prayed that my mom would have a peace about keeping me and bringing me home. After I was born, my mom took one look at me and knew adoption was no longer an option.
When I was about two years old, my mom married my step-dad, Bill. Being that young, I always knew him as “dad.” He loved me and treated me as his own from the very beginning. Growing up, I remember thinking a lot about who I was, where I came from; what my heritage was.
I remember one day at school, some of my friends were talking about their nationality. I didn’t know what I was and was curious. I went home and asked my dad about it. I went to Bill and said, “Dad, who am I? What am I?” He said, “you are a cute freckled face little girl”. I said, no and then told him about the conversation my friends and I were having and how I didn’t know what nationality to tell people I was. He hesitated for only a moment. Then he said, “You just tell them you’re Heinz 57 – a little bit of everything.” That seemed like a good answer to me, so I went with it!
Fast forward years later when I was 26 years old and about to marry the man of my dreams. My mom and I were to go dress shopping for her for the big day. Before we left, I made some coffee and a light snack for us when she said, “I have a song I want to play for you,” and when the song was over she said, “Honey, I have to tell you something.” My heart sank. What could this be about? To be perfectly honest, I thought she was going to say she didn’t have the funds to help pay for the wedding. I was panicking! Just then, she said, “honey, you should know you are half French,” and handed me a piece of paper. It was my hospital birth record and on it, was the name of my father – my birth father.
She laid out the story for me right then and there. It all clicked - I understood why everyone would say, “you look so much like your mother”, I had a different body frame than my sister, and the question of “who am I?” had lingered in my mind since a young age. The pull to discover this other part of me was powerful; I wanted to know.
I was concerned about how my mom, my dad Bill and also my stepfather Steve, may feel. I didn’t want them to think or feel that because I was curious about my biological father that I felt any less love or respect for them. In fact, my love and respect for them grew. I was reassured that I would always be their daughter.
Weeks later, I started my search for my biological father. He had already passed away several years before, but I reached out to his siblings. Through the relationships I’ve built with his sisters, I’ve learned about Curtis, my birth father. I’ve come to know his stories and the man that he was. I’ve connected with Aunts, cousins, and siblings. The power of love and connection that I’ve felt through this experience has shaped me into the woman I am today. The events in my life are blessings and I am extremely grateful for them.
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