Harper and Janet
Thoughts from a Birth Mother…
As a birthmother, I have always wanted to keep
myself available and listed with a registry if my birth son ever wanted to try to find me. When he was only 16, I read an article in Reader’s Digest and registered immediately with a group called ALMA in hopes that when he turned 18 he would also register and we could be reunited. As the years went by I began to feel that a reunion would never happen.
In the past two years, I have felt drawn to read adoption forums on the Internet. Since I gave my son up for adoption at Deaconess Hospital in Oklahoma City, I was very interested in groups that were searching in Oklahoma, as this is a state with sealed records. In May of 2003, I read an article about Deaconess and sent an email to myself at work titled “Something to check out”.
I procrastinated and forgot it even existed. Then in September, I read on Searching in Oklahoma, a group I joined via Yahoo, that Deaconess had a reunion registry. This time I went to their web site and found an email address. I sent a note to request information on how to get my name and information on their registry on September 15, 2003. I received an email the very next day from Debbie Campbell with the forms for registering attached. Again I procrastinated, the forms sat in my inbox.
On December the 10th, just like any other day, I arrived home and checked my email. There was an email from Deborah Campbell with Deaconess, stating, “It is very important that I speak with you as soon as possible. Please call me on my cell phone. I take it to the office and am available after hours.
I’m not sure if I went into shock or what…I was trembling and knew in my heart that this had something to do with my birth son. When I called her a few minutes later, all I can remember was she was in Wal-Mart shopping. I know she had some questions for me, I think, my date of birth, my maiden name and my sons date of birth. I was truly scared! She told me that my birth son had requested a search for me. Once they had my maiden name and where I grew up, she checked classmates.com and found my married name. With this information she remembered that I had emailed her a couple of months before. She said she had a letter that my birth son had written to me and would call me back when she arrived home. For the next little while, I was beside myself but very much in shock. When I called my aunt to tell her, she burst into tears and then I lost it. When Debbie called back and read me the letter I could do nothing but cry, my birth son held no grudges against me for having given him up so that he could have a better life. My prayers had been answered!
After giving Debbie authorization to release my information and phone number, we hung up and I sat and waited for my phone to ring. It seemed like such a long time, when actually it was only about 20 minutes. I answered and I was trembling, I just couldn’t believe that I was actually speaking with my son. We talked for a long time and then decided to digest all that had just happened to us. He called again on Sunday and said he just couldn’t wait any longer to talk to me some more.
Every time I spoke with him I would be on “cloud nine”. We exchanged pictures via email and when I saw the first one all I could do was stare. He looked liked me. I called and told him he was beautiful, I guess that is something a mother might say to her baby but not a grown man. I just couldn’t wait to meet him and my grandson, Max, in person. So, ten days later we drove to his hometown. Harper and I saw each other in person for the first time in 32 years. We had the hotel room door standing wide open and sat waiting for him. I wasn’t sure if I should shake his hand or hug him; instead he grabbed me and gave me the biggest most wonderful hug. Within a few minutes I asked him if his eyes change colors; he looked shocked and said, “Yes they are blue when I wear blue and green when I wear green.” I said, “I know, so do mine. It is like looking in a mirror of my own eyes.” Meeting this kind young man has made me realize that God did answer all of my prayers in 1971. He helped me through the tough times of being without him and sent him to wonderful parents that raised him to be a kind, honest, hard working young man and father.
Thank you Debbie for being so alert as to remember my email and bring Harper and I together.
The adoptee’s perspective…
On March 29, 1971 at the age of 15 days I was adopted. My Mother also was adopted as an infant. She learned of her adoption when she was 18 years old and says that she had a hard time dealing with it. Therefore, my parents decided to begin telling me about my adoption while I was an infant and I never remember “finding out”. I have always known the story of a young woman who sacrificed to
provide me with an opportunity to have a good life.
Many times I have dreamed of meeting her. Most of my thoughts were basic curiosity. What does she look like? Does she have some of the same weaknesses I have? Do we share common strengths? Do I have any blood related siblings? I never wondered why she gave me up because I already knew.
There were times in my life that I felt drawn to her. Usually those feelings came in times of personal achievement. I wanted to show her what I had done. (High school graduation, Boot Camp graduation, arriving, arriving home from Desert Storm, etc.)
On January 22, 2001 my son Max was born. For the first time in my life, I looked into the eyes of a blood relative. It was on that day that the urge to find my Birth Mom became strong enough to act on.
I contacted Deaconess Hospital where I was adopted. They sent a Consent form to release my information and I returned it. A few weeks later, I received a letter that said they had not received a Consent form from her but if she ever sent one in, they would notify me. They also provided information about the search program. I could pay to have a search done. If, when they contacted her, she wanted to meet me, they would trade our information and the deal would be done. If she did not want to meet me, then they would honor her wishes and the deal is off.
I have to admit, the potential for rejection was intimidating. I procrastinated a while and finally sent in the search request. After a few months, Debbie Campbell from Deaconess called me and explained that through a series of curveballs, she had narrowed the search down to a couple of phone numbers. She said she would be making those calls that night and told me to be prepared any time in the next week to hear from her.
At 7:00 that night, I got up from the dinner table to answer the phone. I learned that Janet Bearden from Dallas was my Birth Mom and she was sitting by the phone waiting for me to call. I sat down and tried to finish dinner but I couldn’t. I paced like a wildcat for about 10 minutes trying to think of what to say and finally came to the conclusion that this was not a conversation that could be planned. After 32 years of thinking of things to say to her, I drew a blank.
When she answered the phone, the conversation flowed like we had known each other all our lives. We have a lot in common and both have enjoyed the reunion. She is a great woman and we talk on the phone and e-mail regularly. She came to visit 2 weeks after the initial conversation and I went to visit her 2 weeks after that. Every time we talk we learn something new about each other.
The whole process has been a humbling, worthwhile, wonderful experience.
Thanks to Debbie Campbell, Deaconess Hospital and Janet Bearden.