[ 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]
The following conversation is based on my best recollection what was said and how it transpired. Alex participated more in the actual conversation with loving, supportive and encouraging words.
I felt butterflies awaken in my stomach. I took a deep breath, sat down and dialed Ben’s number.
He picked up immediately. “Hi Ben, this is Lisa”.
“Hi Lisa, I’m so glad you called. I’ve got you on speaker. My wife, Alex, is here.”
“So…this is very strange for us and it’s been quite a night.” Ben began, “To begin with, I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to help you with your search. After I received your email with all the details, I called my Uncle. My Uncle is a great guy. We are very close, and he is a straight shooter. He’s honest and would tell me the truth no matter how difficult it was. I knew he was the guy to call. I shared about you and shared your story including the name of your birth mother, Angela. And….”
He paused, his voice thick with emotion as he continued, “My Uncle recognized Angela’s name. He told me that my father was engaged to Angela before he met my Mom. (Ben paused to let this information land) So, Lisa, I think there is a very strong possibility that my dad is your biological father.”
I burst into tears. I heard Ben and Alex fill with emotion as well.
“Oh my God”, I said. “I can’t believe it, really?”
“Well it certainly looks like it, but I already ordered my DNA test to confirm it. My Uncle remembers their courtship. He said he didn’t know about you though. I guess there was a suggestion of a pregnancy, but no one was certain if it was real.”
“This is unbelievable! I have so many questions.”
“Yeah, this is pretty crazy news and I’m sure you do. But I want to tell you, Lisa, that as crazy as it is, along with a bunch of other emotions, I’m excited to know that I have a big sister. I’m struggling with all sorts of emotions quite frankly. You must be too?”
“Yes, I am. I’m so happy to have found him and you! But I know it’s got to be different for you. I’ve been searching and looking for answers for thirty some years. You just got blindsided with this news in like 24 hours. I imagine it is difficult.”
“Well, it is a shock for sure. But on the other hand, as you will learn about our family, this is not out of character with our family lore”. [Lore. I loved that he used the word “lore”. Ben was so articulate and calm and intelligent. His wife, Alex, was loving and compassionate and sweet.]
“Oh, really? How so?”
“Well, when my father was young, his parents divorced. My grandfather was convinced that their last child, a little girl, was not his. He took custody of my dad, remarried and moved with his new wife, my dad and his step-son, my Uncle from Denmark to the United States. My grandfather told my dad that his mother was dead. My dad didn’t know he had a sister. When my grandfather died, my dad’s mother used the Red Cross to find my dad in the states. Much like you just did. They contacted him, and as you can imagine, he was quite shocked to learn that his mother was alive and that he had a sister. I remember meeting them both for the first time in an airport. When we met my aunt, it was obvious that she was my grandfather’s child. They looked so much alike. So, like I said, we’ve navigated these waters before with people coming out of the shadows as family members.”
“Oh my gosh! How interesting! The information I had on my father said that he lost his mother before I was born. I guess that is a match, since he would’ve thought his mother was dead in 1964.”
“Yes, that makes sense.”
“Ben, I just realized something. We were in high school together!”
“I know. Its surreal. You were in the class ahead of mine. I don’t recall us hanging out or anything, do you?”
“No, I don’t, but we will have to talk more about that and see. Quite frankly, it really is hard to believe that you were there the whole time.”
“It really is hard to believe.”
“Ben, please, tell me more about your dad.” Both Ben and Alex paused.
“Well, Lisa, I am so sorry to tell you this, but we just lost my dad a few months ago, in May.”
“Yes, its still pretty fresh for us.”
“Oh no. I’m sorry”, a fresh wave of tears erupted as I realized that I would never hear my father’s voice, look into his eyes, or touch his hand. We sat quietly through our own emotional moments. Then Ben spoke.
“I have to share this with you though, Lisa. I was close to my dad and spent a lot of time with him towards the end. My dad was a spiritual man and I asked him to send me a sign. To let me know he was okay and still with me. I can’t help but think that you are the sign.”
Well, that did it. I was overcome with emotion. There was so much information and so much to process. Despite the tons of questions, I had been carrying around with me for years, and the new ones that manifested from our conversation, I could not think clearly anymore and needed time. I could only imagine that Ben and Alex were in the same overwhelmed state. I suggested that we conclude our conversation for the evening and to connect again as soon as possible. Ben agreed. We promised to talk the next day and said good-night.
As I tried to sleep that night, the realization of what had just transpired in the last 48 hours hit me. I found my Birth Father through a chance Facebook friend-request to a fellow high school alumnus, who turned out to be my half-brother! I couldn’t wait to learn more about my father, my brother and any other siblings I might have. Nieces? Nephews?