It has taken me some time to accept the difficult things that I have learned regarding my biological family.
The circumstances and story I’ve learned are not at all what I was expecting when I decided to search for my birth mother.
It took several years for me to come to terms with my adoption. However, eventually, I did find peace in the knowledge that my biological mother had wished me dead from the time of my conception. You may think I’m being dramatic or exaggerating; however, I am not.
The only information that my sister Darlene was willing to share with me about our biological mother was that Pearl tried to use a coat hanger to abort me herself and end the pregnancy. The thought of this still makes me nauseous.
I tried to put this thought out of my mind by telling myself Darlene was trying to be hurtful and perhaps was jealous of the life I had led because of my fortunate adoption into a “normal” family if there is such a thing.
Darlene was fifteen years old when Pearl was pregnant with me. Oh, and I want to make sure to mention that that year was when Pearl abandoned her oldest daughter in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was 1963. That day was the last time Darlene ever saw her mother.
You might be wondering if I ever found Pearl and if we had a conversation.
The answer is yes. I had one phone conversation with my birth mom. Her words are etched into my soul like a knife to the gut.
The short conversation went something like this.
Hi, my name is Shari. I am trying to find out a few things about my medical history, and I am hoping to talk to you regarding my biological family.
Pearl said, Who is it you are trying to call?
I went on to tell her that I had been adopted by a family in Utah when I was two years old. I also mentioned that I was born at the LA County Hospital on October 17th, 1963.
Pearl told me that she had no idea who I wanted to talk to, but it wasn’t her.
I repeated myself by mentioning again my date of birth, that I had grown up in Utah since the age of two. I also said the names of her parents and even asked her about Darlene.
I will admit that I did throw her history in her face. I wanted her to be clear that she was the person I needed to find. And that she was the person who could answer my questions.
Pearl was forty years old when I was born. This conversation took place thirty-five years later. In my mind, I thought that she would have come to terms with the fact that she had given a child up. I also assumed that at seventy-five, she might be interested to know what my life had been like if nothing more than to have closure before her death.
But nothing could have been further from the truth.
Let’s get back to that conversation.
I told Pearl that I didn’t expect to have a relationship with her. I had a fantastic childhood, was married and had children of my own. I didn’t need anything from her besides information about my medical history.
There was silence on the other end of the phone,
and then Pearl said, “why would I want to talk to you; you are dead to me.”
That was it, and she hung up the phone.
Queue dramatic music.
I am not sharing this with you for you to feel sorry for me.
I share this with you because we each have something from our past. We have a choice to make; we can continue to have that chip on our shoulder to carry around with us for a lifetime. But if you are willing to deal with uncomfortable emotions, I recommend that you put your big girl pants on and dive right into the sludge. In the end, you will be better for it.
Now back to Pearl, the “Gem of a Woman” that carried me in her womb for nine months.
Later that day, I chose to write her a note. I apologized for catching her off guard and expecting a conversation with her. I included my address and phone number just in case she ever had a change of heart and wanted to get in touch.
I never heard from her, and she has since died.
Every year, International Peace Day rolls around on September 21st. For that reason, I chose peace to be the topic of September.
Picture your families, communities, colleagues, and schools. Think about the people who have something in their lives that they carry around from their past.
I’m sure you are aware of how often our issues and burdens affect us.
On that thought, remember how we all need to be accountable for what we carry into our relationships as well as how it not only affects us each day but everyone around us.
Do you have a chip on your shoulder because of something that happened to you?
I know that I had been carrying a large boulder.
Since my adopted mother passed away recently, I have been looking at photos from my past.
I was shocked as I carefully looked at pictures of myself from the age of 25-40 years old.
There was something about what I saw in my face that was different. It was a lost look. And was someone I didn’t recognize.
I thought about those photos for several days. And then it dawned on me.
I hadn’t realized how important it was for me to go through the ugliness and sadness of knowing the truth of “my beginning.”
I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted for so many years of my life. But through experiencing the hard journey, it led me to understand and believe in who I am today.
As difficult as it is to face our demons, once you do the work and get to the other side, similar to myself, you may not recognize yourself from the past.
And I am ok with that. Getting to the other side is exhilarating. Shari