In my last post I wrote about how I was researching my family tree, and found my biological mother. It took several days to contact her, and as I’m not a patient person, the waiting was difficult. Finally I was able to email her “the letter” telling her who I was. She was understandably shocked, and from her first response I suspected that the entire episode was one she had hoped to forget. She told me that only a handful of people knew about my birth, that she had never told her children because she was ashamed, and that she wanted to keep it that way.
I felt defensive about that at first. It was exciting to learn that I had a half-sister. She looked like me, and based on her Facebook profile she apparently shares my love of horses. I felt that, as an adult, she had a right to know about me. But I wasn’t in any rush, and I decided to take it slowly with my birth mother and see if she might warm up to the idea once she’d gotten over the shock.
She offered to answer any questions I might have, and over the next few days we emailed back and forth. Although I was enjoying the conversation, and she was being very polite and generous with the information, I could tell that she was not interested in going any further. She was glad to know I’d had a great life and wonderful parents, but she did not ask any questions about me or my children. She kept her answers on topic, and I began to suspect that this whole ordeal was something she was just trying to get through so she could close this chapter forever.
My last email to her that evening was to offer her an “out”. I could not think of any other questions, and I was conscious that this whole situation was stressful for her. I told her that if she wanted to continue the conversation, that would be okay, but otherwise I was done with my questions. As I went to bed that night, I realized that the thought of ending our correspondence brought with it sadness, but also a palpable sense of relief. Although the conversation with her is one I will cherish forever, the whole experience of finding her and learning the identity of my birth father (more on that in a subsequent post) was very emotional and even overwhelming at times. I felt I had effectively “checked out” of my normal life for the last several days, and the idea that I could close this door and get back to my life was appealing.
The next morning, her reply proved that my instincts were right – reading between the lines it was clear she was not looking for anything from me, and simply felt she had a duty to provide me with answers. She was gracious and kind, and I have so much respect for her. I’ve now changed my mind about my half-sister: I simply cannot contact her knowing it would cause my birth mother so much pain and distress. Besides, when I really had a chance to think about all of this, I realized that there was nothing I wanted from this person, anyway. In the end, I look at this entire experience as a gift to myself as I prepare for my 50th birthday this year. I know my story now, and I’m content with that.