How the connection happened..
It was January this year. It was harp day in the hospital and I was visiting in the office of a retiring administrator at Kaiser Permanente. She is a wonderful person and very hip senior nurse responsible for bringing my program in their units now over seven years ago.
She told me she’d be spending time with her newly found daughter she had given up for adoption. I told her I was adopted too! She said that not a day went by that she didn’t think of the baby she gave up. She had found her birth daughter with the help of a woman from North Carolina who loved to help folks find each other.
It was a sign for me to start again. I wrote to the nice lady. I was driving to do a concert with Aryeh when she called with my real name and my biological parents names. We had to pull over..My birth mother chose the name “Maria Elena Hart” for me, and “Hart” was the real name of the biological father. She chose his last name for me even though she never married him, or even told him she was pregnant. I was so effected by this I could hardly concentrate on the music we performed. I ended up confessing to the audience what was on my mind that night. Many up to me afterward wishing me well and sharing their own story.
|I remember that night well!
|A fun jam at the end
Because my birth mothers maiden name was common and no first name was given, she referred me to someone who specialized in hard cases. His name is Paul Brown and he started his company “Miracle Search” because he found his own birth mother, and wanted to help others do the same.
He spoke to me at length and told me his story. I knew he was the right guy to help me, but I had to time it right. This was so huge to me, even when the smallest fact came in, I was lost in it for days, I can’t concentrate on my life and what needs to be done. My days and weeks are always so busy with so much going on.
These first details affected me so much it was hard to absorb. In the meantime I wanted to write her a love letter and tell her about my life. Maybe she would be alive, but not able to meet me. Maybe she has family that doesn’t know and she wants to keep it private. If she could read my words and know where I was coming from, then maybe she would see me. Or at least know how I felt about her. Because I also wanted to honor my family I grew up with, I wanted to write it for all of them. That letter became this blog.
As I went through scanning my paper photographs long boxed away, my heart went through so much. I was admiring the pictures of my family, missing my dad and Grandmas. Remembering old boyfriends, and what a worried teenager I always was. It took a lot longer than I thought. Weeks went by.
When I finally gave the go ahead to Paul, he called me at an airport soon after. I knew when he was going to call and was ready with my laptop and headphones. While I sat there amongst hundred of other travelers, I was receiving some potential answers to my life.
There were 347 possibilities in California, women born in the right year with the correct last name. 47 with at least one brother the right age that she had mentioned in her interview at the adoption agency. Of those 47, 10 were no longer living. Of the 37, 11 were still in Los Angeles, and of the 11, there was just one, that seemed to have only one brother at the right age.
So, because I chose the option of a “partnership” search, I had to make the calls myself. Paul prefers this middle option because he believes that the sound of the voice, talking to the birth mother has a potent effect in the heart connecting.
The idea of me cold calling this list of potential “targets” sounded impossible to me. I have a hard time even calling a festival to see if they received my promotional pack to perform there. The idea of calling a woman after over four decades to find out if she gave birth to me, was more than I can wrap my mind around. Now there was a list. And she was on this list somewhere.
Paul was a wonderful coach. From his vast experience he told me that 80% of birth mothers are happy to be found. 20% are hesitant or unwilling or even upset. That 20% is the percentage you have to prepare for.
I carried around this one name and phone number with me for the next three weeks. Working on my story letter to her and her family, about me and my family. I thought I had to get everything in place before I could call her. Plus I was nervous and I was stalling for time.
I was in Morro Bay for a memorial day festival weekend with my dear Aryeh, and he said over newly served enchiladas, “Why don’t you just call?” My heart pounds just from that! “but I’m not finished with my blog” excuse.. excuse.. but suddenly I knew he was right and it was actually the perfect time. I had written out all my suggestions from Paul, about how to talk to the women I would call. So we practiced.
Aryeh and I on cell phones in separate rooms. He used his best ‘older-lady-with-Spanish-accent”-voice, while I practiced my lines..
“My name is Lisa and i’m wondering if you can help me figure out where I fit into the Ramirez family” we ended up being goofy and silly, but I felt better about it.
He gave me every possible reaction we could think of. “I don’t know what your talking about” or “I don’t feel comfortable talking about this” “say what?” “go away!” etc, so I could practice every possible answer, but I kept flubbing it, we did it over and over.
My plan was to call the next morning, Memorial Day, because it was a holiday maybe she/they would be free and together, and maybe we could all have time to recover from whatever happened before a normal work day.
So, alone in my friends lovely home and surrounded by Angel images, beautiful crystals, wise quotes and Goddess treasures, overlooking a magical forest and bay, I knew this will happen here and now. I just can’t get my heart to stop thumping. I called Paul for a last minute pep talk. He said, “It could be any one of these 347 names, you won’t be this nervous for each one”
I had my questions and answers all spread out on the table in front of me. I knew everything that I would say, but the word that was going to mean everything was Thailand.
I knew from her vague pre-birth interview paper that she had been in Thailand.. and also it was for the government? (a mystery), and I had to somehow get that into the conversation, and when I did, it could go either way, I would know it was her, and she would know I knew, or it would be a dead end right there.
So there I sat, 10:00 AM, deep breath, almost press the number.. wait.. deep breath,….close the eyes.. start again, no wait, need water.. I should pee…almost press.. just another minute, maybe I should meditate, or pray.. ok do that.
10:15, 10:30. My heart still pounding, but there was no turning back. I couldn’t stay like this I would have a heart attack. I do a lot of pulse raising things.. big stages, audiences, talking to large groups, I even play my harp right when people leave this world. But nothing felt like this.
I wanted to chicken out, but like in swim class when your at the edge of the diving board, you want to turn and run back to safety, but there is already a line of kids waiting to go. Can’t go forward, can’t go back. Just GO!!
So I pressed the button, and a woman answered the phone. She wasn’t the person I was asking for, she was her sister-in-law.She was so very nice, I relaxed some.
She said that the person I was calling for no longer lived there.
The person I wanted had been moved to a full time care facility, since she had her major stroke eight years ago. My heart is thumping. She said the person I was calling for was severely affected by the stroke and lost her ability to speak. And she never married, and she never had any other children.
“Do you know if she’s been to Thailand?” She said I should call back in a few hours when her husband was home. He was the brother of the woman I was asking for. She said she knew that her sister-in-law had been in the Peace Corp.
I called Paul, he said to me “Peace Corp! are you kidding!!!” Of course, the Peace Corp!! It must be Thailand!! You got it on the first call!!!! He was thrilled and amazed, and it was only then dawning on me, I might have reached her. On the first call.
The Peace Corp. My heart was exploding, with happy and sad.
I called again a few hours later. A man’s voice on the phone. Her one brother. All my questions and plans went out the window. He had the questions, he was very direct, “are you looking for your birth mother?”
Finally, I said, “yes”. He said, “you found her”. And I was talking to her brother, my uncle. It was her brother who was the key!.. because of him, and that he was an only brother, was the reason I found them all.
He was protective and asked my intentions. My voice felt like it was hardly coming out as I explained that I only wanted to let her know that I had a good life, and that her decision so long ago turned out good for me.
We talked for 45 emotional minutes. Yes, she was in the Peace Corp and stationed in Bangkok. There was so much to say, so much relief, so many questions, and putting puzzle pieces in together for each other. It was a surreal dream. It felt like the skies just opened, and sun was coming in. It all went by so fast, its hard to take it in still. But my birth mother was alive! and near San Diego, my uncle was helping with her care. He saw her often and they went out to parks sometimes in her wheelchair, and my birth mother could communicate with nods of yes or no.
He was going to see her the next day and he would tell her about our contact and read her my blog story! Just like you have read here! He told me he had found out about her giving me up years later. He had always wondered about me. I had been on his mind many many times over all the years.
I realized that even though I was so sad at first to learn of her physical situation, I was so happy that she was alive, and this wonderful uncle cared so much, and it mattered so much to him, and there was more family.. and cousins, and second cousins! The blessing felt so enormous.. He was being her voice for me. It was so big, for all of us!
Everything was so surreal. Aryeh was there thank goodness. I think we were laughing and crying all at once, he helped me so much. All in the parking lot of a dairy queen in Morro Bay.. on Memorial day!
By the time we made the four hour drive home to San Francisco, there were photos in my email! I couldn’t believe my eyes were looking for the first time of my life upon
the woman who gave me life. And I could see how I came from her! Perhaps I will post photos of her in the next writing, but I want to make sure that’s all okay first with their family.
|Best sister ever for my whole life
And… I will soon have photos of us all together! Because in three days on Tuesday the 12th, I will meet them! Me and my sister Jenny are driving down together to go to her care home, and there I will meet my uncle, his wife, their daughters, and my birth mother all at once!
My uncle said she listened to my letters from my blog very intently. He asked her if she understood and she nodded yes, he asked her a few times to make sure she understood, and he asked her if this all made her happy, and she nodded yes, and would she like to meet me, and yes. He printed out these photo’s I sent of me, and she now has these pictures with her!
|My sister Jenny
I know that there will be a lot of emotions. I don’t know how my birth mother will be as she is on a lot of medication. My uncle has done his best to prepare me for the reality of the situation. I’m not even sure what I will say to her, or how much we can connect. Or if she will realize its me and what is happening at the time. All I can do is show up and just try to do and say the right things. An think of lots of “yes or no” questions! Maybe she would like to hear me play my harp. There are already so many blessings. This story so far has unfolded much differently than all my many imaginings . But it is my story, and now I have one.
So, my friends and my precious family.. stay tuned. Much more to come and
End of part four