[If this is your first time reading my Adoption Story, it is a fascinating journey told in pieces. For your best experience, start from the beginning at: Adoptee with a Note]
Tina wrestled with her fears to make the phone call to Angela. They were not very close but had been friends on Facebook and commented on each other’s posts. Tina struggled with how to gracefully steer the conversation to the topic of finding Angela’s long-lost daughter. Tina, a strong believer in prayer, asked God for strength and guidance and dialed Angela’s number. Angela didn’t answer. Tina left a message and asked Angela to call her back. She sighed in relief and waited to hear back from her Aunt. A few days went by and Tina had not received a callback, nor any kind of message from Angela. She started to worry that perhaps Angela was on to why she was calling and was avoiding her. Tina and I discussed it and both concluded that it was highly unlikely that Angela knew anything about Tina’s discovery of me.
Tina called Angela again and this time Angela answered. They spoke pleasantly for quite a while catching up on each other’s lives. Angela shared information on her children and grandchildren. Tina shared information about her mother, her daughter and her life. And then it was time.
“So, Aunt Angie, I submitted my DNA onto Ancestry.com recently”, Tina began. Angela was silent. “I had a match to a woman that I didn’t know. She reached out to me and we have been communicating. Her name is Lisa and she was adopted.” Thick silence continued from Angela, then she said.
“Why are you telling me this?”
“Well, Aunt Angela, because I think she is yours. I think Lisa is your daughter”, Tina bravely replied.
Angela reacted strongly going into a rant with exclamations of denial and others such as “Why does anyone submit their DNA to these places anyhow?” “They are never accurate.” “They make mistakes all the time.” “This is not something I want to talk about with you, now or ever.” “This is the kind of thing that ruins people’s lives.” and on and on. Her rantings swung between denial and fear filled reactions to the uncovering of a long-held secret. It was apparent that this secret had been held down so long and so deep, locked in a fortress fortified with terror, anxiety, and shame. Tina had released a flood of emotions from her Aunt that had long been held back and waiting to explode. (When I heard about this interchange, I couldn’t help but think that there had to be some relief for Angela in the ability to finally release all this emotional pressure.)
Tina did her best to interject facts and points such as: “DNA is actually quite an accurate science”, “Lisa a lovely person”, “There is no threat here”. All to no avail.
Angela wanted to end the conversation, but not until she said to Tina, “I don’t want you to talk to Lisa anymore.”
Tina replied, “No, Aunt Angie, that’s not going to happen. I have a lovely relationship with Lisa and I consider her a gift to me. I wanted to let you know about her because I think she is wonderful and I felt it important that you knew that we were talking and are planning to meet face to face soon. I want you to know that if you change your mind, Lisa is open to talking to you, or if you just want someone to talk to, I am here for you.”
Angela reluctantly responded, “Okay, promise me you will not talk about this with anyone else in the family and that we will never talk about this again. Ever!” Tina obliged.
I was so proud of Tina! She stood strong and firm with her boundaries and with her integrity. She was inspirational to me. I expressed my gratitude for her honesty and her ability to speak her truth and to stand firm in her convictions. And it felt wonderful that someone was finally advocating for me and standing by my side.
I was also relieved. It was not a good feeling to me to start relationships with people in my birth family without Angela knowing about it. I didn’t want to be lied about or kept a secret anymore. (I wonder if you can imagine how that feels? To be the family secret that people are horrified will be discovered.)
What gratitude I feel in having a strong cousin like Tina who bravely claims our relationship with conviction and love.