I was elated that I was on the phone with the woman I had fantasized about my entire life. “I have thought of you every year on your birthday, and I hope you have had a great life. What is it you would like to know?” Eileen said.
“I would love to learn more about you and your life. Do I have any siblings?” I said
“Well, I enjoy Rod Stewart, he’s my favorite artist. I collect Garfield memorabilia, and I have one daughter, but she doesn’t know anything about you, and I prefer to keep it this way” she said.
“Thank you for sharing. Can you tell me who my biological father is?” I said?
“Actually, I can’t share his information. He didn’t know anything about you, and trust me – he wouldn’t want to”, she said.
I was taken back by this, but we chatted for about five minutes, and I said, “If I sent you some pictures and a letter in the mail, would you possibly be able to write me back and send a photo of yourself?” I was dying to know what she looked like! Did I look like her?
“Yes, that would be fine. I look forward to that” she said.
I was over the moon and almost giddy. I wasn’t sure what to think about being a secret from my biological sister or the information about my biological father. Still, I glossed over it at the chance to get to know my birth mother better.
We ended the call, and I immediately started looking for photos of myself so that I could get together a photo album made just for Eileen. I retrieved photos of me being a newborn, toddler, and childhood. I found a few photos of my teenage and early adult years. I also included a few photos of Keila, her biological granddaughter.
I remember writing a poem for her that said, “My prayers were answered, my dreams finally came true, and all of this occurred the day I found you.”
I also wrote a letter telling her a little about myself and that I was looking forward to learning more about her, seeing her picture, and getting her letter in the mail. So I put a little photo album and package together, along with the letter and poem, and mailed it off to her the next day.
I couldn’t wait to get her letter back and finally see what she looked like. So I waited a few days, and then I started to check the mail about a week after sending my mail off to her. I knew the mailman always came around noon, so I would sit by the window and wait for his mail truck to roll up.
Then, as soon as I saw him coming, I would fly out the door to retrieve the mail. I could feel the excitement and anticipation from the tips of my toes to the top of my head!
A week passed, and then two weeks. After that, I thought maybe she was busy, so I gave it more time. Then three weeks passed, and then a month. Two months passed, and then three months. Finally, I started to get weary and couldn’t understand why she didn’t write back to me.
Maybe she didn’t get my pictures and letters? What if I had the wrong address? I better make sure she got them! So I decided to make a phone call and ask her myself.
I called Eileen, and this time the phone rang, and rang and rang. Finally, her voicemail picked up, and I left her a voicemail asking her to call me back at her earliest convenience. I was never going to stop waiting on her call, but I never received a return call. I was still running out every day to meet the mailman, and I had the phone close to me in case she called.
Three months turned into six months, and it was apparent Eileen wasn’t going to keep her word about writing me back. Deep down, I was crushed. But I thought she loved me so much? So why was she not writing me back? I internalized this in a significant way as if it was my fault. People tell adoptees always to prepare when they are searching and entering reunion; however, there is no natural way to prepare for what I was experiencing.
But, at this time, I had a decision to make. I could disappear as if I didn’t exist on this earth. Eileen’s secret would be kept hidden away from the world, and I would be the compliant adoptee. Or I could move along to find my biological sister, Joanna.
I decided to reach out to Joanna because I didn’t sign any adoption paperwork or agree to be anyone’s secret. At this stage, I had nothing to lose! So I reached out to Josie, who gave me Joanna’s address. I wrote a short but sweet letter, introducing myself and letting her know I was her long-lost sister and I would love to hear from her and get to know her. Once again, I had high hopes she would reach back out to me. So I mailed the letter off, and the waiting game began again.
I continued to fly to the mailbox waiting on any correspondence from Eileen and Joanna, only to be disappointed every time. Still, at 47 years old, I think of Eileen whenever I walk to my mailbox.
Saturday afternoon, my cell phone rang, and it was a call from an Oregon area code. I quickly answered, “Hello.”
“Hi Pam, it’s your sister Joanna. I received your letter in the mail today!” she said. Again, I was overwhelmed with emotions. My sister, I was finally talking to my REAL BIOLOGICAL SISTER! Another dream come true. We started to share a little information about one another, and she expressed that she always wanted a sister growing up as an only child.
She decided to fly to Kentucky the following week with her husband so we could meet in real life for the first time. I was 21 years old, and she was 25 years old. Friday couldn’t get here fast enough. I couldn’t believe I would be seeing my first biological relative aside from Keila. I was over the moon.
She arrived, we hugged for what seemed like forever, and we talked about our lives. She shared that Eileen was an alcoholic and still is and that they didn’t have a very close relationship growing up. She always wished she had a sister, and now she did. We spent several days together, and she told me she would talk with Eileen and set up a meeting between us.
Two months later, I was on an airplane to Iowa to meet Eileen for the first time. I was nervous but excited, with high hopes at the same time. I still hadn’t seen her picture, nor did I know what she looked like. Was she pretty like I always fantasized she was?
Of course, in a matter of hours, I would see her face for the first time, and hopefully, it would be the beginning of making up for lost time and a beautiful relationship.
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