I remembered my friend, Gary, saying that when/if the meeting between my BM and I ever took place…he wanted to fly my plane. The date was set. I am unsure now of the exact date but I do know it was sometime in May. We had decided to meet in Sioux City which was significant as it was where we had parted all those years before. Gary changed his flight schedule and was ready to fly my plane. I asked my best friend, Dena, to accompany me on the flight (she would then turn around and fly back to St. Louis but would be there for support at the initial meeting). Anita had said that her mother would also be accompanying her.
Since we had not exchanged pictures, I was worried that she would mistake Dena for me. I was certain that I could pick her out as she would be with my birth grandmother and the airport is extremely small.
After gathering as many pictures as I could and packing – I was prepared to go. If I remember correctly, my co-worker and friend Terese boarded my flight. There were hugs and well wishes by everyone as I set off to piece together my past and what I hoped to be my future. I remember a certain calmness about the plane ride there.
The plane touched down and my stomach was in knots. I can’t recall if I had Dena exit the plane first or me. The next part of my memory is quite fuzzy. We walked into the terminal and we spotted one another immediately. I remember hugs and tears. I told her my concern of her thinking Dena was me. She assured me that she knew which one I was the minute she saw me. I guess you get better with that when you have your own children. We then waited for Dena to board the plane back to St. Louis. After she left, I drove with them to a hotel. We had the entire weekend to fill in as many holes as we could.
As you can imagine this reunion didn’t come without consequences. I had a headache the size of a football field. So many emotions (confusion, happiness, hurt, love, joy, weakness)! But best of all - we shared the entire weekend. We had lunch, dinner and all the time in-between together. The time went fast. I wondered if I had the most important questions answered, if I left anything out or if I had asked too many questions.
I learned more about Anita. She had an amazing husband and together they were raising three girls. I learned that after Anita had told Jake about me, his first reaction was to come back for me (how wonderful that he thought that but how hurtful that would/could have been for my parents). I learned that both of her parents were still alive and she had 10 brothers and sisters! WOW. I also discovered that back in the day, it was conventional when a baby was going to be placed for adoption that the young woman would go and live in housing provided by the agency. Anita didn’t choose that as an option. She chose to live at a doctor and his wife’s house while helping them with chores etc. I learned about the day she had me as well as the difficult day when she was asked to sign the papers placing me for adoption. After inquiring about my biological father she indicated that she had no idea as to his whereabouts but gave me his name and said that she would try to find out any information that she could.
What she told me about the day they came for her to sign the papers was that she pushed the papers aside and said she wasn't signing. After basically coercing her, she signed and was given the opportunity to have me alone in a room for a limited time period. During that time she said she ripped every piece of clothing off of me and just made sure I was perfect in every way. When the time came to hand me to the worker and knowing it could be the last time she may ever see me, was one of the hardest things she has ever ever done in her life.
Anita did ask if I wanted to go back to the agency that I was adopted from. I did not. I harbored very ill and angry feelings about the agency and how they handled the 2 years before contacting her. I felt that they had toyed with my emotions for those years and it wasn’t fair. They had not even attempted to contact her – in fact they were able to contact her on THEIR first try. If you remember, I use to call the agency on a weekly basis. What right did they have? How could they hold onto pieces of information about me and in my mind, rightfully mine?
On Sunday I flew back to St. Louis with just a little more confidence in my step. The confidence that is only gained through identity. Before this meeting, I had only letters and phone calls that made up my image of WHO I was. Now I had pictures and an actual face to face meeting (mental image) that I will cherish forever. Piecing together parts of your unknown past is and was emotionally draining! I literally went home and slept for 3 straight days.
Tune into my next post which will talk about meeting my birthdad.