In honor of November being National Adoption Awareness Month, Portrait of an Adoption is hosting the third annual acclaimed series, 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days. Designed to give a voice to the many different perspectives of adoption, this series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying experiences.
OMG! I Have a Brother?!
By Mara McAuley
It was 1998. I was twenty-six-years-old and sharing an apartment with my cousin. My mom had called earlier in the week, asking that I come see her and my dad that weekend. She had something to tell me that couldn’t be discussed over the phone. My mind immediately went to the worst-case scenarios - illness, divorce, job loss.
The following Saturday morning, she and I sat on the couch under the window together, each of us at one end; my back was to the TV (upon which my dad’s eyes were fixed). I felt an air of uncertainty and suspicion in the room, and I was extremely nervous to hear what she had to say.
What she had to say was not something I could have dreamt up, had someone paid me a trillion dollars to weave the strangest tall tale I could. She simply said, “You have a brother.”
Um, no I don’t. I’m an only child. “Ha! That’s funny, mom. Really, what’s up?”
She went on to tell me that when she was in college, she’d gotten pregnant by her boyfriend while he was home on leave from the military. When she realized she was pregnant and also determined that she didn’t want him or his family raising the baby, she broke up with him (without telling him of the pregnancy) and made the grown-up decision to give the baby up for adoption.
Please don’t judge my mom for her decision…times were different more than forty years ago than they are now. I don’t know what I would have done in my mother’s shoes, so I don’t judge her.
One of my initial reactions was a selfish one. I was ANGRY at her for depriving me of having a sibling. And not just any sibling, but the older brother I’d always wanted! How dare she?! Thankfully, I snapped out of that quickly and began to see this revelation as….cool! I had a brother!!!
Then, the questions began pouring out. Who, what, when, where, why, how, and OHMYGODIHAVEABROTHER!!!!!!!! Mom’s boyfriend-at-the-time had had an alcohol problem, which was why she didn’t want him raising the baby. She was away at college and not ready to give up her future.
Mom gave birth to K while under anesthesia. She was forced to name him, care for him, and live as his mother for a few days for reasons I view as punishment. He was then taken away from her. “Perhaps if we make this irresponsible…girl….fall in love with this child she bore out of wedlock, and then rip him out of her arms, she will remember the heartache and *never* do this again.” Mom had requested that K go to a family who couldn’t have biological children of their own. She also hoped he would be raised in her Jewish faith. She hoped and hoped, for years and years….
Mom met and married my Dad in 1971. She chose to not tell him about K. I was born in 1972 and the three of us went on about our lives. We lived a suburban middle-class life: good home, good education, great family and friends.
Little did we know it at the time, but in 1997, K went before a judge to have his adoption record unsealed. The judge granted his request, and K hired a social worker to do the “finding” of his birth parents. The social worker tracked down my grandparents, and they in turn let my mom know that someone from her past was trying to get in touch with her.
Mom made the fantastic decision to tell everyone the truth. She received nothing but amazing support and understanding, even from my Dad. Imagine being married to someone for twenty-seven years and not knowing this very important detail! Kudos to you, Dad. You rocked this one.
A few weeks later we met K. He was handsome, intelligent, and quiet. He was indeed adopted by a Jewish family, and his mom had no biological children. His sister had also been adopted into their family.
Here he was in front of us, my Big Brother, my only sibling. It was a very emotional time. He and my mom asked, and answered, one another’s questions. They began to learn about each another, their shared history, and the years that had passed since they last met.
We’ve seen K a handful of times in the years since that first meeting. Mom and I traveled to his home, where we met his sister. My aunt and I saw him at a barbecue one summer. He and his wife flew here for an elderly family member’s birthday party.
K even calls and sends Mother’s Day and birthday cards to Mom! I’m forever grateful that his parents told him he was adopted, but I’m also saddened that they were not supportive of K’s search to find his biological parents. I wish the adoption circle would be complete; I want to bear witness to my mom saying “thank you” to his mom.
Earlier this year, fifteen years after I found about K, he contacted his biological father. The outcome was incredibly positive, and they have already met and spent a few wonderful days with one another. I hope someday the two of them are willing and able to share their stories with you.
Getting to know her ‘baby’ boy again did a world of emotional good for my mom. She no longer suffers from severe migraines as she did for years and years. I like to think she is living emotionally freer now. She is no longer wondering and worrying whether he’s alive and well. Instead, she is blessed with the love, friendship, and respect she has gained from her only son.
Mara McAuley is a life-long East Coaster, full-time mom of two and a part-time college instructor. She is also a Girl Scout leader, a PTO Board member, and she delivers for Kosher Meals on Wheels. Mara is fueled by her family and friends, Bon Jovi's music, and most importantly, her supportive and hard-working husband.
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