In July 1963 a 16 year girl made the ultimate sacrifice. Knowing she was not prepared to raise a baby she gave me up for adoption. I spent my first 5 months in a boarding home & went to live with my adoptive parents in December 1963, just two weeks before Christmas.
Growing up I was a pretty happy little girl. I grew up in a small town - a town where everyone knew everyone else, everyone knew I was adopted. I spent my growing up years having people tell me how much I looked like one or the other of my parents. NOT! Except for having blue eyes... there wasn't really any resemblance. One thing that always gnawed at me was wondering WHO I did look like. Whose nose do I have? Who did I inherit my cowlicks from? Where did I get my musical talent?
I went thru high school and onto college, got married & had three children. When I was pregnant with my third, the doctor found some pre-cancerous cells & started asking questions about whether ovarian/cervical cancer ran in my family. I told him that I had no idea... that I was adopted. He subtly suggested that if it was possible, I may want to find out. I had always dreamed of doing this so it wasn't a big surprise other than the fact that my OB/GYN suggested it!
After my baby was born I began my search. It was a pretty lame attempt (I didn't have access to the WWW!) but I really didn't know how to go about it - so I was just floundering around. Since I was born in Kansas & Kansas is an "open" state, I filled out the required form, sent a copy of my ID & some money to the Vital Statistics office hoping to receive a copy of my original birth certificate. A few weeks later I received it... along with the name of my birth mother. She, too, was born in Kansas & as a blood relative I was able to request her birth certificate which then told me the names of my maternal grandparents. Since they were all born in the same town I enlisted the help of a friend who happened to live in that town. She sent me pages out of the area phone book for people with the last names of both grandparents.
I spent several nights writing & re-writing a generic letter stating the facts I had gotten from the birth certificates & my circumstances. I went through the names on the pages from the phone book & sent a letter to every other name. Within a couple weeks I received a half dozen responses. Some said they had no idea who these people were but were supportive - wishing me good luck with my search; others condemned me for "opening a can of worms" that would ultimately cause nothing but heartbreak.
One Sunday evening in early October 1989 our phone rang. The man identified himself as my birthmother's cousin. His dad & my maternal grandmother were siblings. He had known my birthmom was pregnant but never knew what happened to the baby. He told me he had received the letter I'd written...and knew something was up because I knew too much (names, dates, etc.) so he gave the letter to his father. His father in turn contacted my grandmother.
The following week I received a large manila envelope in the mail with 13 typed pages (single space) - my first correspondence with my grandmother. It was a strange letter to read - like I was reading about complete strangers (in fact, I was!). What I got sounded much like a dimestore novel - told from the point of view of one who was on the outside looking in. She had included a photograph of herself and her phone number. Was this a hint?
(This is an emotional subject for me... and I'm going to end this writing here & continue in a day or so.)