In recent days I have seen truly amazing things, not the least of which is America electing a man for who he is and not because of his name or how he looks. This was an answer to my prayers. Finally a leader that I feel I can believe in. Time will tell, and he may not be able to do all the great things he'd like, but I think Barack Obama will mark our history in wonderful ways.
But I digress...
Some of those who know me are aware of the story I am about to share. Some are not. For those of you who may be a little shocked, I apologize. I hope you will understand why I kept things to my self.
I would like to introduce all those who count themselves our friend to Adam Ryan. Adam is my son. He is a wonderful young man, now 22 years old. Adam is a student at Rochester Institute, he is a truly talented guy studying fine art photography. As an aside, I think many would have come to at least know his name through his photos some day. He has a great sense of humor, an amazing view of the world and an astounding open mind. It is my hope that you will all come to know him and welcome him into our lives.
So here's the story:
Some 23 years ago, during my first marriage, we conceived a third child. We were already in financial ruin, and could barely take care of ourselves and Jillian and Christopher, who were still babies. (Let me quickly note here as I have always said, God has a sense of humor, and Adam was conceived despite birth control.)
I had pretty strong beliefs on the issue of abortion and could not consider that notion. But I also had no idea how I was going to be able to care for another baby. It was suggested to us that we consider placing the baby for adoption. Turns out it was a good suggestion.
I can tell you that I never discussed this. Giving Adam up was a source of horrible pain for me. I could not bear to think of him through the shame and guilt I felt all those years. I never wanted anyone to know I had allowed such a terrible thing to happen. To be honest, I was also horrified at what people may think of me - that I would not have the respect of those I love and respect.
Of course, my family has always known. I did not share this with my husband's family until recently - when I had too. When my children were old enough to understand I began to discuss this with them. I would never have sought to find Adam, only he had the right to make that contact -- but I wasn't hiding from him either. There was always a possibility that he may want to find me (if he knew that I existed), though I did not dare to hope for that. I think that, despite how hard this was for me, it may have been harder for Christopher. He has longed to know his little brother for many years. Another reason for me to feel badly. No mother wants to hurt her children.
Last September my estranged mother made a bad decision. She decided to make contact with Adam and to put him in direct contact with Christopher. This was not discussed with me. We were not given a choice. It is a shame to say it, but it was done as an act of vengeance against me because I would not speak to her. (This may help people to understand why it is that I am estranged from my own mother.) Unfortunately, the contact was made under a dishonest story told to Adam's adopted Mom. It was a terrible thing to do and it was done at the risk of ruining lives. Ours and Adams life. We had no knowledge of what Adam did or did not know. I was not even sure if he was aware that he was an adopted child. You can imagine that this turned our world upside down.
We were given direct links to Adam's MySpace page. Though I was nearly hysterical, I could not fight the need to see that page. And there he was, pictures laid out before me of a son I never thought I would see again. I began to read about him and was surprised to see a message posted on his front page: Who I'd like to meet: -my biological parents. This was followed by a request:
Also, should anyone run across someone who looks like me, I would really appreciate you asking his name. If his name is "Christopher Duffy," then you've likely found my long lost brother. Please keep an eye out :). So it turns out that Adam was fully aware.
I knew that he was told we were sent that link. I sent him an email through his MySpace apologizing that the right to open this door had been taken from him (and from me). I received an email in return very quickly. I don't think Adam would mind if I share that with you. It will tell you just how amazing he is:
Please don't apologize. There is no need to. I know you made a promise to not contact me, but I had already begun an investigation to find you. Ironically, this saved me a lot of time. I had always planned on finding you, and after I turned 21 I decided to take it more seriously.
I am not unhappy at all by being contacted. I need you to know that I bear you no ill will. In fact, the reality is quite the opposite. I love you. I care about you greatly.
Never once have I felt hatred for you. Never once have I felt that I was abandoned. It has always been my intention to find you, and if possible, have a relationship with you. I have always believed that you feel the same. The letter you wrote to my mom was all the evidence I needed. I still have that letter by the way. My mom was gracious enough to allow me to keep it, because it has been the only piece of you that I've ever known.
My mom called me a few hours ago, letting me know that my biological grandmother called. I learned some of what has happened since my adoption was made final. I have learned that you are not on speaking terms with my grandmother. I know nothing about what has happened in your (my) family, but please do not hold this against her.
I am excited to speak with you. Please know that it brings me nothing but happiness to think I'm talking with the woman who gave me life.
There are many things we have to say to each other.
I think it's easy for anyone who knows me to imagine the tears this letter brought.
We began to email regularly, and that was followed by chatting online. Some months later, when Adam was ready, we finally talked on the phone. Over the Thanksgiving holiday we finally met. Adam, myself, Jillian and Chris spent a long day and night talking, looking at pictures, laughing, and simply getting to know each other.
Those who'd like to see pictures, feel free to check out the albums on my Facebook page.
Adam came again for a visit at Christmas and during that visit met my brothers and sister as well as my parents. I was worried for him that he might feel awkward at first. But if he did, he hid it well. It was a good day to be sure.
Adam is extremely busy at school. We don't get to talk as much as I'd like. Yet I know he will be coming back again in March at his break and look forward to it with happiness.
The point of all of this is to tell you this: even when someone takes your choices away from you, does something designed to hurt you - it just might backfire and turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you.
I am healing well and after all those years, finally at peace. I know that despite how hard it was, it was truly a good thing. Adam has had an incredible, wonderful life raised by a loving and remarkable woman. She has my heart, always, for the gift she has given in sharing Adam with us.