A month of answers and more questions

26 Sep

September has been interesting to say the least inside my head. I am not sure I would want to be in my own head right now, and have tried myself to figure out how to escape, but after all, I started it all.

The end of August I was successful in getting the name of my biological mother and the last name of my birth father. Through internet search engines as well as some assistance from “adoption angels” on a Facebook group I was able to track down my birth mother and so at the end of August I sent her a letter (which I sent certified so I wouldn’t have the question on ‘if’ it got there).

The letter I wrote:

August 26, 2015

Dear Shari,

Hello, I hope this finds you doing well. I am not quite sure how to even begin writing this letter, so forgive me if I just jump right in.

Through research I have learned that you are my biological mother. I was born on July 3, 1978 in Long Beach, California. I was raised by amazing parents, if you had a hand in getting to say what family I went to, you made an excellent decision and for that I thank you. Speaking of thanks, I wanted to say thank you for giving me life, for not aborting your pregnancy and for choosing to give me up for adoption knowing you were too young to take care of a baby (that part was in my adoption letter).

I decided to reach out this way for a few different reasons, first, I thought perhaps a letter would be more appropriate. Secondly, I don’t know what your husband or two daughters know of your past and did not want to reveal any of that and reach out via social media.

So, why am I writing? I wanted to see if I could get medical history from you for your side of the family. This has been the only obstacle of being adopted, not having medical history. From research it looks as though both of your parents have passed away, may I ask if cancer or if anything else runs in the family? Also, would you be willing to tell me my birth father’s first name and any details about him? The only thing I know is that his last name is Doucette (from the original birth records). Besides that I only have what was in my non identifying information in my adoption papers, so no name or medical records, etc. I just thought if I could get a first name and possibly birthdate I could do some research.

I lost my mom 5 ½ years ago to cancer and since then the urge to get medical history if possible has been weighing heavily upon me. With the advances in medicine and with knowing what runs in the family I can be more proactive on my own health. Since my mom’s passing I have devoted countless hours towards raising funds and awareness towards the fight against cancer… a friend suggested I include a link to show you my fundraising link with my story about why I participate in the event I do, I will share that with you and leave that up to you as to whether or not you choose to look. The link is: http://www.the3day.org/goto/loriannolson.

I hope that writing to you has not upset you in anyway. It certainly was not my intent to do so. After 37 years of unknown, I thought maybe I could at least get some known information.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I do hope to hear back from you. I am willing to answer any questions you may have as well.

Below is my mailing address and email address.

Take good care,
Lori Ann Olson
loriannolson7378@gmail.com

The letter was signed for on September 4th by her husband… and so I waited, hoping for a response… and I waited…

On the evening of Yom Kippur I got a notification from our concierge that I had a letter at the front desk from her (notification had her name) as she sent a letter back certified. I went down to get it, halfway shocked that she actually wrote back and 100% nervous as what she had to say. Her letter read as follows:

Lori,

I must admit your letter caught me off guard. I always knew there was a possibility of you finding me, especially with the advent of the internet, but still did not expect to hear from you. My hopes were that you would have a wonderful childhood and adult life that there would be no need to search for me.

In truth, your letter has caused some difficult emotional times for my husband and me. Up until your letter, very few knew this part of my past. My husband read your letter and that was the first he heard of this, but my children don’t know yet and I wish to inform them on my terms. We debated for a while on how/if to reply, but thought you were asking for reasonable information, so I decided to finally reply.

I accepted the fact that I did the right think giving you up for adoption and felt it would be beneficial to us both. I knew my situation at the time, young and alone, would not have given you a very good prognosis for a good quality of life and there was not going to be the family support either of us would have needed. I had long ago accepted the fact that you were a member of another family and had no right to ever be a part of your life. I’m not sure how you feel, but my thought at this time is it wouldn’t be fair to either of us to pretend there is (or should be) some sort of social relationship. I’m still trying to work this out and need more time to fully digest the situation.

I did have a say in which family did adopt you, and from the sound of your letter, a good choice. I’m glad that you had such a good family and your quality of life was equally good. I’m sorry to hear about your mother; it sounds like she was a loving mother you cared for a lot.

Concerning the medical history: I can tell you that there are no real systemic hereditary medical problems from either side of my parent’s family to my knowledge. The cause of deaths of parents and grandparents are due to a variety of reasons, none of them I have ever been concerned of from a hereditary standpoint. Medical problems and causes of death for my parents and grandparents are:
Mother: died of lung cancer caused by smoking for 40+ years
Grandmother: died from a stroke due to high blood pressure
Grandfather: died from a heart attack (smoked for many years)
Father: died of complications from adult onset leukemia
Grandmother: died from a heart attack due to atherosclerosis
Grandfather: died from cirrhosis of the liver due to alcoholism
Me: I have high blood pressure, but it is controlled by medication.

Your birth father’s name is (provided name), born in 1961. I believe he passed away in 2003 based on information I recently found on Find-A-Grave (provided link). However, I haven’t had any contact since your birth so I don’t know any other specifics about his life and/or death.

I hope this info answers your questions fully, however, I understand that you may have additional questions and I would not mind if you were to email me at (she provided email address).

I do wish you well in the future.

Sincerely,
Shari
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With that I wasn’t sure what to feel. While I had received the answer to my question with regards to medical history, I also felt a sense of loss which I am not sure I have the right to feel. So my birth father is dead. And while I didn’t expect my birth mother to be thrilled that I had popped out of nowhere, her letter just left me feeling a sense of emptiness.

So back to ancestry.com I went in search for information on my birth father. Found an obituary, found out his living relatives names and then did a search on social media, which led me to finding his older brother. I decided I already felt empty, so it wasn’t going to hurt to attempt to reach out, and so I did. I wrote a message in facebook about who I was, learned that his brother was my birth father and said that since he was older than my birth father that I was assuming that he knew of my existence and that I hoped that my reaching out didn’t cause any difficulties.

He wrote back the next day and was extremely nice and polite. He stated that “Yes I have known about you and my brother always carried the one picture he had of you. As far as medical there is no history of cancer in the family. There is addiction and alcoholism in the family.”

I went on to ask if he would mind telling me how my birth father died, as the obituary said ’cause yet to be determined’… what came next was something that I was not ready for and am still trying to absorb. “He died by killing himself with a rifle. Apparently he tried suicide by police and that was not working so he shot himself in his house. He did have a lot of gamble and drinking problems that were the main problems. Figured that once he started shooting at the police he had to end it. FYI he did not shoot any of the officers, nor did he want to harm them. He was a good shot, as am I, and this is the reason I can say this.” There was that emptiness feeling again. Whether anyone feels I have the right to feel it or not, whether he was in my life or not, the fact is, he is who made me, and so there is a sense of loss I feel, which is a bit deeper knowing the cause of death.

He went on to tell me that my birth father had a son and that if he and I both agreed he would give us each other’s information as he believed that Kyle knew about me. I said that was fine to give him my info and Kyle actually messaged the next day. Things Kyle shared with me about his father (my birth father) included: “My dad had a picture of you as a baby on the nightstand as long as I could remember. From the stories I had heard was he did not want to give you up but his parents kind of left him with no choice. Shortly after he joined the army and left home I do remember that. I can tell you that he looked for you for a long time and he was hurt about the whole thing. My dad was a great man gave everything he had to include his life for others. He was a helicopter mechanic in the army which I followed his foot steps and am currently enlisted. He had some problems but don’t we all? I was born in 88 he died in 03 I had just turned 15. He married my mom about a year after I was born.
Apparently giving you up wasn’t so much his choice or your birth moms. My dad was in the demalays and your birth mom was in jobs daughters which are both part of the masons and eastern star. My dad was a high rank at the time and Apparently having you at a young age and out of wedlock “brought shame on the families” and the families made the choice for them. Never really liked the part of my family’s history A lot of tines they made huge mistakes that there is no turning around from. A good portion of the family to suffers from one mental illness or another. My father was a manic depressants all of them are alcoholics.”

So, that is a lot of information to find out and just ‘deal with’, but I did want to know and so I need to figure out a way to deal with it all. Makes me shake my head and think, yeah, there are certainly some traits/genes picked up from my birth father’s side.

Just a lot to digest…

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