My sister and I, we didn’t grow up together but we are as close or closer even, than if we had. We are sometimes as different as night and day, and at other times, we are so much alike it’s scary. I love her fiercely, more so now that I know what it is to have grown up without her.
I was born in 1966, Mom was 19 and I was told that I was impatiently delivered 2-months early. I always thought I was an only child…
She was born in 1971, for some reason, our Mom had the notion that she wouldn’t be able to take care of 2 children because supposedly, she was breaking up with her husband, (who was, thankfully, not my father – which is a story in itself). So, she decided to give her up for adoption.
Now the twist here is: Mama never told anybody. Not even her husband, that she had given my sister up. She told us that she didn’t live very long because she had a hole in her heart. I was crushed, the day my mother came home empty handed, I remember saying "where is my sister?" I remember going into my bedroom at 5 years old and just shutting the door and crying. The more I remember, I don't recall ever seeing a nursery in the works….so this was a planned surrender.
How fitting was it that the story she told, created such a big hole in my heart. That hole has affected the remainder of my life.
Apparently, she believed that it would be the best decision for everybody. No one could talk her out of it if they didn’t know, I suppose. I figure she discussed her decision with her obstetrician because, according to my sister, her adopted parents found out about her through him.
Fast forward to 1995, I was still living with my Mother and Grandmother and my youngest daughter was 3 years old.
Mama comes upstairs and tells me she needs to talk to me. We sat on the couch and she tells me that my Auntie called her to ask her what was going on, that some girl had just called my Grandfather's house asking if he had a daughter named Cynthia. And, if that daughter had a daughter she had given up.
My Grandfather denied it at first, but he called my Auntie to ask her if it was possible. Auntie then called Mama and told her to spill it.
And she did.
According to Mama, she had created a mental block around the entire situation and effectively blocked what had happened so many years ago. My thought is that it was so painful and along with her having epilepsy, she couldn’t effectively deal with it. She just didn't know how.
She told me that yes, she had lied to us, that my sister was alive. I cried. I was pissed, I was heartbroken, for her and for me. And I was mad as hell. How could she have lied to me like that, all my life. Over and over again. Then I saw in her eyes, the memories, the pain, the regret and I cried again, as much for her as I did for me and the years lost.
I really had only a little time to process this because, the next day, the doorbell rang and it was my sister.
Now this part, this is where she and I disagree…
I always knew that I was adopted. My parents told me that my birth mother loved me but couldn’t raise me as she was divorcing my father. The story is a little fuzzy as I’m not sure what is truth and what was said to protect me but Mom worked at the ob/gyne office where Momma was going. The consensus was that the doctor talked her out of an abortion by telling her that his nurse couldn’t have anymore children and really wanted another one. A little girl to be specific. The adoption wasn’t a closed one as they normally were back in the day since without this doctor it never would have happened.
Anyways, my Mom claims that the night I was born she had contractions and finally, 5 minutes too late for Mother’s Day, I made my way into the world. My parents took me home from the hospital to the wild, wild 100’s where I stayed until 2nd grade. My Mom always told me that when I was old enough, if I wanted to she would help me find my birth parents. I had doubts as I had heard horror stories of people thinking that it was the right thing to do until they got to know their parents and then they were heartbroken. I didn’t want that to happen to me.
Flash forward to 1992, and my son is having ear infection after ear infection. Since I am mostly deaf in my left ear, I thought it would be best to find out if this was hereditary. Although my Mom worked with the doctor that delivered me, I didn’t have any medical history on my birth parents.
I knew that they had been married so I figured the easiest thing to do was to find them. I went to City Hall and found their marriage license, which was relatively simple since I always knew my last name. That night, I called all of the people in the phone book in Chicago with my last name. Inadvertently, I called my grandfather. I asked him if he had a daughter by the name of *&$%$* and if she had a daughter. He stated yes, but that she was too young to have had a daughter my age. I figured I would give up until I received their divorce records.
Unbeknownst to me, my grandfather called my uncle, who called my aunt who then called my mom and asked about me.
In the divorce records, it listed a little girl, age 5 at the time they were divorced and that my mother was requesting that my father remove his name from the 2 flat they owned on 120th with my uncle and grandmother. I decided to go to the house to see if anyone knew where my grandmother might have moved to since it just made sense that they wouldn’t have stayed in the same house for 23 years. I decided that I would go out there Monday after school. I was so scared.
I drove up to the address in my little station wagon. I was so nervous that I couldn’t open the door for what seemed like 15 minutes. I walked to the door and rang the bell. A woman came to the door and asked what I wanted. I said I was looking for my grandmother and…..
To be continued…