Family is such a tangled web we weave. I am always trying to maintain some connection between our adopted children and their biological siblings. Even if they do not remember each other well, someday they will want to know. I believe that all humans are like homing pigeons. Eventually we seek the very source of our own origins. In this case, biological family is key.
I know this is so because I struggle with my own biological connections. My father has always been an ambitious man. He was 56-years-old when I was born. My mother was 18 years younger. It was a second marriage for both of them. I have half-siblings on both sides. I am very close to my older brother on my mother’s side. I have 4 half-siblings on my father’s side.They are all 20+ years older than I am.
My father is not an easy man. I know that the older siblings had very bad experiences being his children. He could be brutal, angry and inebriated. He could also be charming, gregarious and entertaining. I don’t think his interests ever aligned with having a family. Roger had delusions of grandeur about himself and what he would achieve. He had strong beliefs in the supernatural and the afterlife. He was a larger-than-life character in public. In private he struggled to maintain personal relationships. My parents divorced when I was 4.
Roger was much older by the time they had me. The first set of siblings suffered through his mistakes and physical abuses. I can’t even imagine but I have heard from many people that this is so. I do not doubt it and I understand why their relationships with him were minimal and fragile at their best.
When I was small, and my parents were still married, I remember spending time with my father’s oldest son, Ron. He and his girlfriend would take me places. They took me to an amusement park one day, just the 3 of us. At the end of the trip they bought me a clear plastic ruler filled with water and sparkles. I treasured it and though about my “biggest” brother whenever I looked at it.
My father’s youngest son, Ed, and his family were a part of my childhood right up through high school. We would drive from Connecticut to Virginia each summer and stay with them. I held each of their 3 children as babies. I played in their yard and swung in their hammock. My sister-in-law was impossibly sweet and I wanted to be just like her.
Over time, the visits stopped. As my father got older, what little relationship he had with these 2 became more and more strained. I do not recall his relationship with his daughter, Carol. We may have visited once or twice with her but I was too young to remember. His son Rich had long since changed his last name and completely distanced himself from the family. I never met him. As Roger got older his relationship, and by association, mine, became more strained with the siblings. We stopped visiting. They stopped talking. I was the only child who still spoke with Roger.
They were always sort of a mystery to me. A special club that I was not a part of. I dearly loved the two brothers that I knew. I had no idea what Rich looked like. I tried to friend him on facebook once. He immediately blocked me. His response was swift and baffling. I was only curious. Did we have any of the same features? Enjoy the same foods? Was our eye-color the same? It was sort of a gaping hole of knowledge and I just wanted to know.
About 9 years ago, Roger had his second heart attack. His first had happened while I was in high school. His second was when I was only 26-years-old. He was divorced and alone. Suddenly I had legal medical proxy in case anything should happen to him. I was making arrangements at his apartment and trying to make sense of the mess of medical and insurance information. Needless to say, I was a wreck. I was way over my head in terms of responsibility.
By this time my own relationship with Roger was getting complicated. He didn’t really approve of Luke and wasn’t keen on the idea of our marrying. He believed he was going to become rich developing a holistic healing center and I should come and live with him on this compound. He made many job offers to me but his center never appeared. It was one of the many dreams he had that never made it to reality. In addition, I had no interest in a psychic healing center. I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to marry Luke and start a family. Roger did not approve.
When I reached out to my siblings, none of them came. Luke and I dealt with the heart attack by ourselves. They had work, families, other commitments. I was alone. At the time I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t be there to support me. Now I understand that it had more to do with out father.
I have decided to seek my biology in the same way I encourage my children to seek their own. I reached out to my oldest brother, Ron. We both live in Connecticut. I was ready to drive across the state to meet him for lunch or whatever he preferred. He seemed happy and willing at first, but when the day came to meet he stopped contacting me. My texts and phone calls went unanswered.
I contacted my brother, Ed, in Virginia. He was very enthusiastic and loved the idea of a summer visit, just like old times. We are driving to his house so that he can meet my husband and my kids. It’s been 15 years since I last saw him. Our contact has been mostly Facebook “likes” and comments. I’m scared but I am sure. If I am telling my kids that it’s ok to have mixed feelings about relatives, then I should be able to handle my own. If I tell them that maintaining family connections is important, then I should practice what I preach.
If adoption has taught me nothing else it has taught me this. Family is important. Hopefully I will continue to learn and grow. I am reaching out to my siblings because family is what you make of it. My kids deserve this from their own biology and from mine. Wish me luck…
**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.