This guest post is by Lesley Hicks, an adoptee.
As I read the story of Darrick Rizzo his words, his love and his heart brought me to tears.
I am not a birth father. I am an adult adoptee who has found and reunited with my birthfather and his family.
I am now 53 years old. My birthfather Bobby is 83 years old. Kathy, my birth mother, never told him about me, although he knew that she had been pregnant and had a child. They remained friends for years. Sadly, Kathy passed away in August last year, just one week after her 73rd birthday.
I don’t think she even knew that she had given birth to twins. I am still trying to find my twin brother. My adoption was private—the doctor was my adoptive mother’s doctor and he got in touch with my mom and dad—while my brother’s was through the state.
I have my original birth certificate now after Arkansas finally opened records to adult adoptees a couple years ago and had found Kathy almost 20 years ago. Given our unusual circumstances it was nothing short of a miracle! God graced me with knowing Kathy most of my life.
I grew up one mile down the road from her, saw her every day and talked to her every day! Kathy was actually my school bus driver. My first love and his family were close with her family and she would help him find presents for my birthday, Christmas, and trim roses and other flowers from her own blooms.
She told me that she never knew it was me. I was supposed to be a boy. She called me a “liar” even as I stood before her with a copy of her signature, which she confirmed was hers. She did not want her “secret” to be known. She was angry, abusively so, and told me that she had wished she had had an abortion.
None of this took away my love for her. I chose to move forward with my life knowing she did not want contact. I had three children of my own and the only time she had a glimpse of her two granddaughters and grandson was that fateful day in December 2001 when the news got out about my adoption.
I still continued to pray for her. The name given for my father on the certificate was an alias. I knew that it was. It was just a matter of time before I found out who this man was and prayed even harder as the years slowly went by.
I had done my DNA test through Ancestry.com. I found so many matches, all relatives of Kathy and her family. Then, last year I took a leap of faith and clicked on a profile of a young woman who was my “1st to 2nd cousin”. This young lady was actually my niece, my birthfather’s granddaughter, and my half-brother’s daughter. What a roller coaster ride it has been!
That year my oldest daughter flew home for the Thanksgiving holiday. She thought she was going to surprise me. But No, I surprised her!
We met and reunited with Bobby, two nieces and one nephew as well as their families and more. We’ve all had to learn where to set boundaries because it can be, and still is, very overwhelming for all of us!!
I loved my Mom and Dad. I love my big brother. They are and always will be my family. Blood is not always thicker than water. What counts for me was, and is, the love shared.
The best way to explain my own adoption story is that my birthmother and birthfather gave me life and my Mom and Dad showed me how to live it.
I know how blessed I am in so many different ways! A lot of choices were taken out of Bobby’s hands but I have told him repeatedly that we can’t live in the past. We can only live in the present and enjoy the future that we choose to create together!
My heart aches for the birthparents, adopted children and their who are still searching. I feel that when it’s the right time and with God’s infinite wisdom, reunification can and will happen. Yes, it is difficult in many ways for all.
However, I want to assure those who are searching or waiting to be found there are many ways to make progress. Even though it is like looking for a needle in a haystack I look at where I am and how I found my needle.
No matter where you are on the adoption spectrum, I recommend that you a support group. I belong to a Facebook group called “Adoption Database.” JoAnn Stanik is the founder and moderator and has a database/registry for those who are searching.
Without this group I would have lost my mind during all of this! People searching from all over the world are on her site as well as many “search angels”–people who can help you. It’s a safe place to talk and look for advice as well as share the highs and the lows of your journey.
The best piece of advice that I can give right now is to love your family members even if they aren’t in your present day life. Never give up hope. Also, please remember that an adopted child may not even know they are adopted—I was 12 years old when I found out—and the birthparents searching for you may not even know your real name.
Best of luck and with warmest wishes to all!
Lesley Hicks is a wife of 31 years in Little Rock, Arkansas, and loves to spend time with her husband and kids. She enjoys rescuing dogs and helping birth families reconnect.