A Never Baby Person Parented

Kelsey Graham with baby daughter

I’m a family preservation, never adopt out if one can help it, person and so I really liked this story in the LINK>Huffington Post – “What It’s Like To Be The ‘Young Mom’.”

Kelsey admits – “I was never a baby person. Growing up, when family members would have kids, I stood back, adoring the baby from afar, but passing on chances to hold it. I never babysat beyond watching my younger brother. And while it’s true what they say — when it’s your child, it’s different — it was still overwhelming being responsible for another life when I was just starting to lay the foundation for my own.”

She was in her sophomore year of college when she got pregnant and was 20 when she had her baby. I can relate. I was 19 when I had my daughter. My pregnancy was deliberate as I was married and all of our “married” friends also had young children and so, I didn’t see any reason to wait. Really, I was still a child when my daughter was young. My marriage didn’t last and unlike the author of this story, I didn’t go on to college until much later when I picked up a few hours but never graduated.

Happily, for Kelsey – she is still with her then boyfriend and now father of her daughter. With a strong support system from her family, her boyfriend, and his family, she was able to finish her degree. At 27, she was fortunate enough to return to school to earn her master’s degree. During that time, she worked in the Graduate School Office as an assistant with other students ranging in age from 20-year-olds who had just graduated with their bachelor’s to others in their 30s. She says, “It was nice to be around people closer to my age and, even more, to be back in the school setting I loved and where I felt like I belonged.”

Often feeling like she didn’t fit in, which she describes in quite a bit of detail in her op-ed, she realized that women are judged for whatever choices they make, especially if they deviate from the very narrow idea of what’s “normal.” I also understand this from my own personal experiences but thankfully, I do have friends who seem to understand my unconventional life experiences are what make me – “me”.

I do know that I have always been living my life as best I could. I know my experiences matter just as much as those who have trod more conventional paths. I am glad for my Facebook friends today. I realize these woman include all the women who have also taken the path less traveled. It’s comforting. The author notes – “Being a young mom is what brought her to me, and I’ll always feel lucky for that.” Yes, I can say the same about my own daughter – despite the bumps on our own journey together, when I could not financially support the two of us and didn’t have the kind of family support the author had on her own journey, I was no longer married to my daughter’s father and he didn’t believe in paying child support nor did I want to fight him for it.

Kelsey is a Copywriter and Freelance Writer. You can find her at LinkedIn here – https://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamkelsey/.

Tragic

Angel and her Grandmother

Hers is a clear case of all that is wrong with foster care and the family court system. Monica Dunning, Angel’s grandmother, had successfully completed the foster parenting classes and background checks to become a licensed kinship foster care home. Dunning was seeking to be named her granddaughter’s guardian.

Angel’s mother died in a car crash on Halloween 2016. Dunning said that Angel was placed into child protective services in Tennessee the very next day because of a “no contact” order with her father. Dunning said her daughter was divorced from Ahearn at the time of her death. Allegations of domestic violence led to the court order that prevented him from seeing Angel. The girl passed through eight to ten foster homes in Tennessee over the next few years. Instead of being placed with her grandmother, Angel’s father was awarded custody of her on May 3, 2021.

“It’s heartbreaking that I feel like me and my family were absolutely robbed from the time that my daughter passed away. We just, we had very, very limited contact. And there was absolutely no reason why she couldn’t have come here,” Dunning said. After her father gained custody, she was no longer aware of Angel’s whereabouts until she got the call on October 18th that let her know that her granddaughter was dead. 

A third-party caller claiming to be Rachel Hollifield’s aunt said in the 911 call that for the past year her niece had repeatedly tried to run away from Leonard. She was not sure what triggered the shooting incident. The woman’s aunt told the dispatcher – she heard a scream in the house followed by gunshots and then it got silent while she was on the phone.

In his Georgia home, Leonard Ahearn first killed his daughter, Angel Ahearn, who had just turned 12. Then he shot Rachel Hollifield, his girlfriend, in the hand. Finally, he turned the gun on himself. Angel died at the scene. Leonard and Hollifield were transported to a hospital. Leonard later died from his injuries. Hollifield is expected to recover. 

Dunning was particularly frustrated because she had invested time and money to undergo the process to authorize her to care for Angel, in a home where Angel would have been safe. She said it seemed as if the officials in charge of Angel’s case “would place [Angel] with anybody” but her maternal grandmother.

Fathers And Custody

One of the cultural changes that has come to pass is fathers asserting their rights when faced with the loss of custody for their child. I am happy today because one battle has finally been hard won. It had been a 6 month battle that cost over $35,000 in legal fees. The judge awarded sole custody of the baby girl to her dad. Everyone is over the moon happy for him.

Today, I read about another father who was lied to about his child. I wonder how often this might happen, more often than I once thought. The way his father found out his daughter was alive was when an adoption agency lawyer called him to ask if he knew about his daughter’s birth. His ex had told him the babies (she had been expecting twins) were stillborn. DNA test results were that 99.9999% she is his daughter. The judge sided with the hopeful adoptive parents who have a 5 bedroom house with a pool, backyard and front yard plus grandma and grandpa living there too. His parental rights are due to be stripped and he will never get to meet his daughter. He mourned the death of twins he thought were stillborn for a year. Now he will lose his daughter again, after never even meeting her.

In more conventional custody situations, as of 2018, nearly 4 in 5 custodial parents were mothers (79.9%). But the statistics go deeper than that: Not only does the mother get custody of the children more often, the parents agree in more than half the cases (51%) that the mother should have custody. However, the number of children living with their father has more than quadrupled from 1% in 1968 to 4.5% in 2020. Many divorced fathers would prefer to have custody of their children but are not actually awarded custody. 65% of the time the female parent is awarded custody.

Personal confession – I was awarded custody of my daughter in my divorce case. However, due to financial hardship (with no child support asked for nor rendered), my daughter was raised by her dad and a step-mother. It was simply an agreement that to the best of my knowledge was never court ordered. It was not an easy role in the 1970s to be an absentee mother. Thankfully, I continue to have a good relationship with my daughter and her assistance to me when my parents were dying can never be adequately repaid but continues a source of deep gratitude for me.

Within the legal family court system, women are viewed as generous, trustworthy and friendly and there is a belief that they will have more time to spend with their children but this is not the reality in either single mother families or in families where both parents work. As of 2015, joint-custody arrangements were more common than sole paternal custody but less common than sole maternal custody. With regard to joint-custody arrangements: occurrences of domestic violence on the part of husbands was reduced.

It is surprisingly easy to find stories of fathers having to fight for custody against adoptive or foster parents. In a case I had looked at before, which was ruled just this 2022 year, the father had sought custody in a divorce petition filed in Iowa before his then-estranged wife gave birth. A judge ordered DNA testing and prohibited the child’s permanent placement or adoption. She gave birth in Michigan and a judge terminated parental rights of the birth mother and father, who was considered a non-surrendering party because he failed to respond to a generic legal notice published in a newspaper. The Michigan Supreme Court justices said the case presented challenging legal issues, with some concerned about the father’s due-process rights. Even so, the state’s Supreme Court sided with the adoptive parents of the nearly 4-year-old boy whose birth father had sought custody. That court reversed a decision by a state Court of Appeals panel that said the birth father’s parental rights were wrongly terminated, which provided the birth father with a chance at gaining custody.

If the topic interests you, you may wish to read this analysis – LINK>The Strange Life of Stanley v. Illinois: A Case Study in Parent Representation and Law Reform provided by the NYU Review of Law & Social Change – Legal Scholarship for Systemic Change. Thankfully, there has been dramatic and important growth of parent representation in child protection cases. In Stanley, the Supreme Court addressed Peter Stanley’s efforts to regain custody of his children from the Illinois foster care system after the death of his partner, Joan Stanley, to whom he was not married. Stanley became a canonical case regarding the rights of unwed fathers, and, crucially for the child protection field, it included a broader holding that only parental fitness can justify state action to remove children from their parents’ custody.

Simply Thankful

So often in this space I am focused on all of the things that are not quite right in adoptionland or within the foster care system. I do care about how adoptees feel about their state of being which began involuntarily and those complex feelings extend to donor conceived persons, especially those who may not have known about their origins until much later in life. I believe we can ALL do better and many who are similarly educated by the realities of life are now speaking out – to help the rest of us understand that the truth is complex and diverse but usually not the fairy tale narratives that adoption agencies prefer for everyone to believe.

My education about all of these related aspects has been brief and intense since my adoptee parents (yes both of them were) died in late 2015 and early 2016 (just 4 mos apart after over 50 years of marriage) and I made my own roots discovery journey. I am certainly grateful for what I learned that made me feel finally “whole” and for the genetically related family I am now acquainted with. They are all precious to me and totally human with flaws and positive attributes like we all are – myself included. And I still have a love in my heart for my adoptive grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins because they were the family I knew and grew up with. They are who I often celebrated Thanksgiving with throughout my childhood and early adulthood.

The thing I am honestly most thankful for is that I was NOT given up for adoption. It is my own personal “miracle” because adoption was so common in my family as to feel natural to us (though I now understand that it never was “natural”). My mom was a high school junior, unwed. My dad had just started at the University of New Mexico in Las Cruces. Yet, I was preserved in the family in which I was conceived. This may explain one of the reasons that family preservation is so important to me personally. I had a good enough childhood. Sometimes we were a bit financially challenged. Sometimes my dad’s anger was a bit too short fused. My mom was unhappy enough at one time to contemplate suicide. My youngest sister ended up homeless. My other sister lost her first born to his paternal grandparents in a court of law and my own daughter ended up being raised by my ex-husband and his second wife. Even so, I am thankful for every CRAZY experience of my own life because it has made my understandings of human nature so much deeper and more reality based.

May you too be counting your own blessings this day.

Typical Adoptee Struggles

Today’s story – As much as I love the holidays coming up I usually struggle through them. This year seems to be hitting me harder than usual. I always knew I didn’t belong in the family that adopted me and I was blessed to be able to start my own little family but still I struggle. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that my divorce number 2 will be finalized right after Christmas or that my adoptive mom was diagnosed with dementia and gets mad any time my adoption is brought up or my adoptive dad disowned me for my birthday this year or that I will never get answers about who I am because my biological dad is unknown and biological mom passed away about 5 years ago. I just feel so lost this year. I feel like I’m failing as a mom to a very awesome 13 year old. I know I’m not because I see how strong she is, but I still feel lost. I know my adoption caused a lot of trauma and I have worked really hard to overcome a good portion of it.

An adoptee asks her –  have you by chance tried something like 23 and me? When I did it helped me and brought me so much joy because I got to see where my ancestry is! Maybe you’d find some close relatives on there? I just had to reply – 23 and Me really helped in my case. They are all dead – my adoptee parents (yeah both) who died knowing next to nothing about their origins, the adoptive parents and the birth parents all dead. However, a cousin with the same grandmother (my dad’s first mom) did 23 and Me and not only could she tell me about my grandmother but that led me to another cousin in Mexico who had all of my grandmother’s many photos (including a bread crumb hint about his father).

Someone also suggested Ancestry DNA and I have done that too and it does help with people who never knew you existed to prove that you actually are family. Like her, I have found I have an overwhelmingly HUGE biological-tree and it happened suddenly. Only a few years ago, I only had some names for my first grandparents that didn’t reveal much.

Another adoptee had a sympathetic response – is very understandable and appropriate considering you currently navigating a divorce, a parent with dementia and being disowned by the other. Any one of those things is a lot for a person to handle individually, but you have a stack of upsets. It’s ok to feel lost for a while as long as you don’t forget things can and will get better. I say this as a person who also had a stack of life in their hands for a 4 year period (my mom passed, we moved my dad, who then had a major health crisis, and I also had discovery and reunion and estrangement with parts of my biological family in there as well). It got better. It continues to do so. One day at a time. Be kind to yourself. Don’t forget to slow down and breathe sometimes. You’ll make it through.

Finally another adoptee acknowledges that the layers of loss are surreal for most to understand. She is parenting 2 daughters and not with either of their fathers. Seeing her 11 yr old’s abandonment/ trust issues pulls up her own feelings at that age. She finds that she is reparenting herself while she parents her daughter. Finally able to understand emotions she’s never been able to sort out before.

Abandonment is a Perception

Perception matters. As we go through our own “adult” stuff and often have to make hard choices, we are not always aware of how our children are perceiving what we had to do. My marriage at 19 ended in divorce after the birth of our daughter a few years later. Eventually, I then left my daughter with her paternal grandmother (about the age of 3), but she eventually ended up with her dad and a step-mother. I made attempts to stay in contact and reassure her always that it never was about her directly but my own problems. Fortunately, we are close today as adults raising children (my grandchildren and two sons I have now from a subsequent marriage who’s ages are close to that of my grandchildren). I have faced that as a child her perception was understandably about having been abandoned, even though it was never my intention to never to have her under my own roof again during her childhood.

Today, I read about a woman with somewhat similar concerns. She left her child’s father when her daughter was only a year and a half old. She gave her mother legal guardianship of her daughter as she was going through a really rough time in her life. It’s shameful and it’s tough to face these kinds of reality. Finally, this woman met someone with whom she has been able to create a whole and loving family with her daughter and a subsequent baby brother from her new relationship. This daughter is now 9 years old and there are understandably “issues”.

Her daughter has ADHD and a fiery personality. Also some mood and behavioral problems exasperated by her abandonment trauma. She tends to be self-centered (normal) and melodramatic (from me). She can be very mean and unforgiving at times. She easily gets stuck on feelings of being left out or forgotten, even while we’re actively spending time with her.

One response suggested – Behavior is communication. Give each other grace. You are not the choices you made.

Another offered a perspective which I find valid – She has emotions that she is shoving down because she does not know how to deal with them. A huge part of healing childhood trauma is to grieve the losses that caused the trauma. For her, it was not having you or her father in her life for those years. My suggestion is that you start working on grieving your losses, and be open and honest with her about it (age appropriately). Let her see that you are in denial, angry, bargaining, sad, and finally accepting of what happened. That will give her permission to explore those feelings that she has inside of herself. I would also suggest a trauma/grief informed counselor. 

You were part of your daughter’s wounding, you can play a major part in her healing too. It all starts with the parent healing as an adult. Learning what triggers us, so we can be the calm, consistent adults that our kids need because our calm becomes their calm, our ability to regulate our emotions becomes their ability.

More than one recommended LINK> Trust Based Relational Intervention – which I have seen and mentioned before. TBRI is an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. TBRI uses Empowering Principles to address physical needs, Connecting Principles for attachment needs, and Correcting Principles to disarm fear-based behaviors. While the intervention is based on years of attachment, sensory processing, and neuroscience research, the heartbeat of TBRI is connection.

Someone else suggested mediation. Sometimes a safe person who’s not her parent can help her better understand/hear what you may be trying to communicate (and vice versa). And her suggestion came from personal experience – “I’ve had mediations done with both my and my mother’s therapist, and each time seemed to help shed some light on new aspects of a topic being discussed with our respective therapists.”

And an acknowledgement that I also understand personally – The mere fact that you care so deeply, is absolutely everything. DO NOT ever give up on that. Parenting is so hard, even without the added guilt you carry. All you can do is wake up and do the best you can do for that day.

Finally this from someone who’s been there (and hits me in the guilt place for I have done this too) – I wish my mom had owned her hand in my trauma WITHOUT excuses or trying to push blame onto others. I wish she would have validated my experiences. I wish she would have created and protected a safe space for me to understand and unpack all of the feelings and thoughts I had, preferably with a therapist. I wish she would have spent time one on one with me doing things I cared about, getting to know me deeper. I wish she wouldn’t have told me how hard XYZ was for her, I didn’t care, it wasn’t a competition, I was the helpless child. Even if my mom’s choices were between bad and worse, she was an adult who had brought me with her to that point. I wanted a mom who wanted to BE my mom.

She added – Your bit you wrote about your daughter feeling left out or forgotten hit me like a ton of bricks. That feeling is something I am working on to this day. I felt so out of place with my mom, stepdad, and new baby brother. I knew I was forgettable and honestly with a new baby – replaceable. They felt like a whole little family and I was just the chump she had to come back and get so I could tag along. (blogger’s note – though I never was able to bring my daughter back into my own life fulltime – we did have visits – I did go on to have 2 sons who I have been raising. This caused me to consider how that might feel to her – even though she is an adult with children of her own.)

One more – Focus on being your best self today and in the future. That’s how you can make it up to them, they’re often incredibly wise about this stuff. This way of thinking encourages you to reach a point of acceptance and decide… everyone’s alive, healthy, and you can’t change the past. I think that’s what I would say to my own parents, just sin no more and I don’t want to dwell in the past. (Though there may be times when the wounds bubble back up.)

My own last insight – life is messy, complicated and sometimes very very difficult. We can only acknowledge where we have failed but instead of continually beating ourselves up over that – move forward with being the best person we have managed to be at this time.

The Fathers’ Rights Movement

Approximately 46 years ago, my daughter ended up in the non-legally mandated custody of her father. When we divorced, I explained it to my 3 yr old daughter – you still have a mother who loves you and a father who loves you, we just aren’t going to be all living together again. As a bit of a feminist, I truly believed BOTH parents are important and I still believe that. As a mom, with what I have learned about in utero bonding, I do lean towards mothers in the early years more than it did then. I never intended for my ex-husband to raise our daughter. I didn’t leave her with him when I went in search of a method to make enough money to support the two of us. I left her with her paternal grandmother who had cared for her from 3 months of age while I went to work. But that is how she ended up being raised by her father and a step mother. Was it perfect ? No but I didn’t have a better option to offer her at that time either.

I recently donated to a legal fund through my all things adoption group for a birth father seeking custody of his soon to be born (may have already been born) child. His mother is assisting him. The birth mother has decided unilaterally to adopt out her baby to a wealthy couple and has cut off communication with the father. I just feel that a birth father with his mother’s support (much like my own daughter had) is better off there than with strangers who want to adopt her.

I had never heard of the Fathers’ Rights Movement before today. I know with my two sons how critical their father is in their lives as a genetic mirror for them. I am glad to be their mother and I know my nurturing of them matters. I am glad to have discovered, after feeling like a failure with my own daughter, that I am capable of being a “good enough” mother.

There has to be a good middle ground that supports the rights of BOTH parents. That is my view. My dad’s father likely never knew about his son. They would have been great fishing buddies. I don’t know what his reaction may have been had my paternal grandmother told him she was pregnant. He was married and as the self-reliant woman she was, she simply handled the situation.

So, I am simply sharing my new found knowledge of this organization for anyone who might need their support. The Fathers’ Rights Movement.

Betrayal After Betrayal

Today’s story courtesy of the LINK> Huffington Post – My Dad Hid My Sister From Me For Decades. Then I Learned That Wasn’t Our Only Family Secret by Sarah Leibov. I share excerpts. You can read the whole story at the link.

Her dad had impregnated his girlfriend long before he met her mom and she was placed for adoption. The truth was revealed because the woman was coming to Chicago where the author lived and not only her mother (who had divorced her father 20 years ago) and her brother (who also knew about this secret sister) thought Sarah might want to meet her.

Her brother knew because he was going through their dad’s briefcase seven years ago and discovered letters from this woman and began corresponding with her. The mother discovered the secret when she asked who sent an email she saw on her son’s computer.

Sarah describes her reaction to the shock of learning about this sister. I only noticed that I was crying when people passing me on the street gave me sympathetic looks. I sat down on the curb, shaking. I was in shock, but another part of me was relieved. Intuitively, I’d always felt that my father was hiding something from me. Hearing the news validated the fear I’d buried inside for years. I was confused as to why he had kept this secret. My parents had divorced and married other partners when I was young, and I’d already had every kind of sibling imaginable ― my brother, a stepsister from my mother’s next marriage, and three half siblings from my father’s second marriage. Why would he keep quiet about this one? I didn’t know why my brother had never confronted my father, or shared the news with me. It was betrayal after betrayal.

She didn’t want to meet her father’s hidden daughter behind his back, or hide it from him, as he had from her. She called her brother and told him, “Call Dad now, and tell him what you know, or I will.” The next day, her father asked Sarah and her brother to meet him at a deli she’d never heard of. She thinks he thought she wouldn’t make a scene in an unfamiliar public setting, but admits, “I upset his plan. Tears flowed down my face as I ignored inquisitive looks from people trying to enjoy their matzo ball soup.”

Her father told them that when his girlfriend discovered that she was pregnant, she told him that she was moving to another state and planned to place the baby for adoption. Two decades later, the hidden sister gained access to her adoption papers and reached out to both her birth parents. Their father had then started corresponding with her and even met with her several times over the years.

Sarah writes about their first meeting – My fiancé and I met my new sister at a restaurant the following evening. My father was right ― she was lovely, kind and unassuming. I noticed that we both had inherited my father’s dark eyes and curly hair. She seemed a bit nervous and just as intent on making a good impression as I was. In her warm presence, all my envy disappeared.

And in the years since, we have bonded over our mutual interests in music and meditation, both on the phone and in person. I am very fond of her, but it’s so much more than that. I admire her political activism and ideals. She is a health care worker, and I’ve never heard her blame anyone for the difficulties she has endured. She lives with an easy, open acceptance that is challenging for me.

The hidden sister turned out not to be the only secret in their family. Turns out that her maternal grandfather had an affair during his marriage to her grandmother. Her mother and this half-sister (discovered thanks to Ancestry.com) were born only a few months apart, but on opposite sides of the country. When asked if her father had ever traveled to the East Coast, her mother explained that he was a traveling salesman. “We hear that a lot,” the geneticist told her mother.

Upon learning about this, Sarah was angry at her grandfather for deceiving her mother, similar to how she had been angry at her father for withholding a sister from her. It was frustrating that because the grandfather was deceased they couldn’t get answers from him. I know the feeling. I would love to know why my maternal grandfather appears to have abandoned my maternal grandmother and the baby that was my adoptee mother.

When she saw how overjoyed her mother was to have discovered a sister so late in her life, Sarah’s perspectives changed. It wasn’t their actions that were reprehensible, their decisions to hide what happened had caused pain.

She ends her essay with this – “Enough time has been stolen from me and now its my responsibility to recover what has been lost.” I understand. Building relationships with people who didn’t know you existed for over 60 years isn’t easy. I simply keep trying to stay connected with my “new” genetic family.

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Issues Change With The Times

Original birth certificates and name changes have been an issue for adult adoptees. Many adoptees still can not acquire their original birth certificates. My parents were adopted in the 1930s. In adulthood, both learned the names they were born as but nothing about their original families. I do have my mom’s original birth certificate which was very helpful as all she knew about her birth parents’ names was Mr and Mrs JC Moore (which reveals very little). I never could get my dad’s original birth certificate because California is one of those states that won’t release it without a court order. I did learn his birth mother’s name thanks to a handwritten note on a letter concerning the changed birth certificate in the state of Texas that his adoptive mother wrote down. Turns out she was unwed.

We still have new members come into my all things adoption group with questions pre-adoption about how to handle the birth certificate for pre-school children and name changes. In today’s modern society, most are over thinking what a more open and progressive society have made a moot point. While conservatives and evangelicals may not like these changes to marriage and family units, the changed nature of society is a positive development for adoptees.

Divorce, remarriage, blended families, single mothers and same sex partnerships, to name just a few of the complicating factors, have resulted in what once might have been a legal issue with schools and medical records, no longer matter regarding the child’s name. What does still matter is identity and true family origins. Keeping the original birth certificate intact still matters. Not sealing adoption records matters. Today, an adoption decree is all the legal documentation an adoptive parent needs to establish their responsibility to the child. A birth certificate and the child’s name no longer need to be changed. Some adoption agencies and social workers, perhaps even some legal authorities may still try to make changes a requirement but in reality, there is no longer a basis to do that.

There is one issue that did come up that could matter. That is where violence or some kind of public notoriety could follow a child throughout their life. One adoptive mother with just such an issue shared that she was able to get mentions of these events, where the child is also mentioned, removed from public access. She asked the kid’s attorney, the judge, assistant district attorney and the district attorney to send letters to the news outlets that covered the original story. They did that and it worked for this family. So, with some help, even news coverage can be buried. That said, as the child matures, they are still to be fully informed in an age appropriate way about these circumstances and if necessary, with the help of a trauma informed therapist. Never hide the truth from the child who it concerns.

One other adoptive parent of an older child mentioned that their child legally changed their name for reasons of their own. In their experience, the name change did not cause any problem with passport and Real ID, and even the change of gender did not cause a problem either. All that was needed was the proper documentation about these changes and they simply followed the rules related to those changes.

I Am Now My Own Parent

My Dad and Mom

I’ve told some version of this story before and can’t promise I won’t again, though with evolving perspectives, these likely do change over time. My dad died only 4 months after my mom. She died first in September 2015 and he followed in February 2016. It was a profound event in my own life as I am certain it is in many lives. After my dad died, my youngest sister said, “We are now orphans.” I remain estranged from her. The cruelty she expresses towards me when we are in contact with one another causes me not to want to be involved with her. Not long ago, the state of Missouri informed me that they held some abandoned asset of my mom’s and I jumped through hoops and ended up with a whopping check for $20. Because I needed to provide my sisters names and addresses, so they could receive their own shares, I contacted my youngest sister’s conservator, who had been appointed to manage her funds. Turns out, he has been free of her for 2-1/2 years and no longer has that responsibility. The judge turned him loose and I understand. My sister is difficult and uncooperative and so, she is on her own now. So be it. I never wanted to take her freedom away from her. It was her own lawyers and the need for a family member to ask the court to look at her circumstances that forced my own involvement.

The topic today was inspired by a Daily Guide for Sunday, July 10 2022 in the Science of Mind magazine written by Rev Dr Jim Lockard. That phrase that is my title today comes from an affirmation he put at the end of his essay. He mentions that some people have never known their family of origin. That was certainly true for BOTH of my parents – as each of them was adopted and they died knowing next to nothing about their origins. I was conceived out of wedlock by a teenage mom. I could have so easily been given up for adoption but thankfully, I was not. It seems that one of my purposes in this life was to reconnect the threads of my parents own origins and I have now made it as far as is necessary for my own peace of mind. I know who all 4 genetic grandparents were, something of their stories and am aware of quite a few living, genetic relatives now that I am in contact with.

After my mom died, I came into contact again with an aunt. She is the widowed wife of my dad’s brother (my uncle was also adopted). A profound experience for me in high school was witnessing my uncle’s slow decline from Lou Gehrig’s disease. She is a nurse who met him when he was a Marine and hospitalized due to an auto accident. I had been thinking about this aunt for several days. It seems we do have a “spiritual heart connection” and so, she had been thinking about me and called me recently. It has been true since my mom died that she still calls me to check in from time to time – mostly to hear the latest for me and adds a few insights into her own life. Mostly, she just listens. I find her easy to talk to, honestly, though she is much more conventionally religious than I am. She usually asks about my sisters and how are they doing. She used to tell me she was praying for my estranged sister and I but she no longer tries to reach me that way. She had only one child with my uncle and he died a few years ago, too young and somewhat unexpectedly. She lives with an elderly sibling and that sibling’s spouse. My aunt is now 90 years old and I never know how much longer she will be in my life but she is totally lucid and I am always happy to hear from her.

Mine is a strange reality to live. Learning who my genetic relatives were and are, has to some extent, distanced me from the ones I grew up with. Even so, I remain fond of the adoptive grandparents I grew up with (now deceased) and with the aunt just mentioned and one other (my dad’s step-sister, who he acquired when his adoptive mother remarried after a divorce). My mom also had a brother who was adopted through the Tennessee Children’s Home before her. I am not all that close to him but did see him at my mom’s memorial service. It was his daughter’s receipt of his adoption file that had her call to tell me – I could get my mom’s. That opened the door for me to become genetically whole again and fulfill an intended life purpose.