The woman on the phone said she had my birth mother's name and address. She suggested I write a letter that she, the woman on the phone, would read to my birth mother if she, the birth mother, agreed to a meeting.
First and foremost, I want to reassure you that I have never begrudged you your decision to give me up for adoption. On the contrary, I have considered your decision to be one of the utmost selfless – and I imagine difficult – decisions a mother can make. I am grateful that you – no matter your circumstances at the time - had the strength to let go of your baby girl and deposit me into the arms of the woman I call my mother.
Years ago I met another adoptee – she happened to share my birthday. When we talked about our respective experiences as adopted children, I was shocked by her reaction of anger towards her birthmother. I could in no way relate to how she felt; I assumed that all adopted children would be grateful to the birth parents having made such a sacrifice for the benefit of their children.
Please know: I admire you; I am grateful to you; I have absolutely no negative emotions toward you or the decision you made all those years ago.
I suppose my adopted family – my mother most of all – is in a large part responsible for my positive ‘experience’ and attitude about being adopted. I was told before I could even understand words: “You’re special. You’re adopted.” It was almost a mantra used in my family … especially as one of my other brothers was also adopted. He was also “special.” We are five in my family: mom, dad and two older brothers. I am the youngest and the only girl. You can imagine I was spoiled – not quite rotten – but close.
My mother – the woman you allowed to be my mother – is the most extraordinarily loving and warm person you can imagine. She has an artist’s spirit and from the moment I can remember we have been best friends. She would do things like take me out of school in order to go see an airplane that had been painted by Picasso and was flying out from our local airport. She nurtured me, and, she claims, that I nurtured her. She needed a little girl in our family to help her deal with all the testosterone that was already in the house. ;-)
My parents gave me every opportunity that you could have hoped I would have. I was sent to good schools (though I am naturally a bit of a nerd so I probably would have done well in any school. My husband likes to say I’m a bit like Monica from Friends – always sitting in the front row and raising my hand first to answer the questions). I graduated from a prestigious university; my junior year I studied abroad. After university, I went to South Africa where I taught in a village school for a year. I then spent 3 years in Madrid and 6 years back in the USA before moving to London. After 10 years in London, I applied for a British passport – which has allowed me to live wherever I like in Europe. Madrid is home.
I am married, though at the moment my husband and I are separated. It’s a bit complicated, but we are best friends. We have no children (I always thought that if I were to have children, I should adopt; I am, however, selfish and prefer my current lifestyle than one with children). I have a dog. She is the joy of my life.
I have a good job, though no one understands what I do. I am an IT consultant. It’s not the most exciting or glamourous job (though with the amount of travel I do it might seem glamourous; I am usually bopping between Madrid, London, Brussels, Geneva, and Berlin). I would rather be a writer, but maybe that will come to pass someday. One can always hope.
Other things about me:
· I HATE talking on the phone. Always have. Drives my mom nuts.
· I am crazy about dogs. (I’m currently taking a course to be certified as a professional dog handler).
· I majored in English literature.
· I speak Spanish (but make up lots of words – which keeps my friends laughing).
· I’m 5’5; have green eyes; light brown hair that gets some red in it. I have had 4 grey hairs in my life. I’ve plucked them all.
· My name is Ellie.
· I like my handwriting.
· I jog and go to the gym rather religiously.
· I love chocolate (don’t we all?) spinach, and broccoli.
· I love wine (too much).
· I am more of a mountain person than a beach person.
· I try to avoid getting sun because I know it’s bad for you – but I like having a bit of a tan.
What else might be of interest to you?
Growing up, I never thought of myself as pretty or cute or even having the potential to be cute. I had a lazy eye and had an eye operation when I was 5. For 6 months I wore an eye patch. I had thin, scraggly hair and thick glasses. I was a little ratty looking, but was always happy (I am still in general a happy, light person). I was a tomboy and climbed trees and threw lemons at passing buses (naughty!) and played football with the boys in the neighbourhood. I don’t want to come across as vain; but I have grown up to be quite pretty. You gave me good genes.
I cannot adequately imagine what you must be feeing at this moment: anxiety, fear, annoyance that the past has not remained firmly in the past or maybe a tinge of excitement or contentment brought on by unexpected news of someone (me!) you never thought you’d hear from. I imagine you have thought of me frequently over the past 42 years; though maybe you have tried to put me out of your mind – that would be a perfectly acceptable coping mechanism!
Until I turned 30, I never thought I would be looking for you. The Internet was just taking off when I was about 30 – and so resources for looking for birth family became much more accessible. I also read that adopted children often start thinking about their birth families around the time they turn 30. In my case it was true. I don’t know what triggered it, but mostly curiosity. Do I look like you? Do I look like my birth father? Do I have half siblings out there? Then there are the health questions: what do I need to watch out for? What illnesses lurk in my genes? I did a bunch of research and then my interest just kind of fizzled out. Sometimes I get lazy, and searching for you seemed to require a lot of effort – and possibly expense.
10 years later and this time I have taken the leap to really search for you (and other blood relations if they are accessible). What’s different this time? Well, the curiosity is the same. The concern about health issues may be more acute. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago (she is doing great) – this triggered me to think more about my health.
As I started this letter, I will end this letter, by expressing again how grateful to you I am. You have given me a good life.
All the best,