Deborah and Susan - Alberta Human Services - Government of Alberta

Deborah and Susan

Adoptee Deborah and Birth Mother Susan
Reunited in 2012

The first weeks and months of my reunion experience were a whirlwind of emotion, starting with one of the first phone calls from Fran, in which she explained that my birth mother had registered with the reunion folks a whole eighteen years earlier! Fran also warned me that the last contact on file with my birth mother had been five years ago and that it could take some time to track her down, since a lot of things could have happened in five years. Imagine my surprise when Fran called me back a couple of hours later the same day and said “We found her.”

I still remember how it felt when Fran told me my birth mother’s name was Susan (the same as my sister’s!), that she had two other grown daughters and she was well and living on the Coast. Thanks to Fran, over the next couple of days, information was traded back and forth, and it started to sink in that this was really happening! Despite being well in my forties, I’d only heard of the reunion registry a few years previously and when I finally registered I knew I might be one of the people for whom connections never happened. So a part of me had already made my peace with the idea that nothing might come of it. Now, I found myself with the somewhat unexpected pleasure of knowing that there were people out there who’d been hoping and waiting to meet me for quite a while!

Susan and I got to know each other over the next few months via emails, phone calls and video calls. Early on, I had a fun little adventure trying to figure out what to call Susan. Since Susan is also my sister’s name and I already sometimes confused people by referring to my mother-in-law as “Mom” in conversation, I joked that I was going to have to figure out something to call this person (or brains were liable to melt from confusion!). With “birth mom” feeling like way too much of a mouthful, I asked Susan if she wouldn’t mind if I took a page from the famous Jennifer Lopez/JLo’s book and abbreviated “birth mother” to make her the nickname of BMo. She embraced the name --which just goes to show what a fun and generous nature she has. And thanks to her grace in navigating those early waters with me, her superstar nickname is now something fun and special between us.

May, 2013, a few months after that first exchange of letters, I headed to the Coast and met Susan and her daughters. I will forever be grateful for the welcome those two gals gave me – I’d already been blessed with the sister I’d grown up with, and now I had two other people who wanted to embrace me as a sister! That first visit was wonderful and full of emotion, and was followed up a month later by another visit to the Coast, this one to see the younger of my sisters graduate from university and to have a huge group birthday party (turns out we daughters were all born in June!). During that visit, I had the chance to meet my Welsh grandmother and my aunts, uncles, a niece, two nephews and even a cousin. It was absolutely amazing to me how open-hearted the whole clan was and I will always be grateful for their wonderful welcome. This August, Susan and her sister Gail came to Nelson for a visit and we had another great time just sitting around on my back deck, talking and laughing.

One of the most amazing things over the past few months – in addition to discovering where some of my personality traits and physical characteristics come from – is just how many odd little near-connections already existed between me and my birth family. The surprises started early, when I learned that my adopted home town of Nelson, B.C. is only a couple of hours from where Susan was born and grew up! And after a childhood in Calgary and nearly a year overseas in Ireland, I wound up spending a decade living in Richmond, B.C.—where, at one point, it seems a birth cousin had lived only a mile or two away from me. When I moved to Nelson ten years ago for my husband’s work, I did so not knowing the town and anyone in it. But I learned this summer that Nelson is actually home to a blood relative who’s lived there most of her life and that my Auntie Gail had lots of wonderful memories of summers spent in Nelson with her grandmother and that relative. Only a couple of years before our reunion, Susan and Gail had actually visited Nelson – and in doing so, they literally drove past my house. Strange to think that in that instant, we had all only been thirty feet from one another!

This whole experience has left me filled with extraordinary gratitude. Gratitude for my birth mother and her loving sacrifice. Gratitude for the love she kept in her heart for me over the years. Gratitude for the amazing gift she gave me in the form of my parents and sister who love me and who I love so, so much. Gratitude for the sisters and family she’s introduced me to, for the welcome all those people have shown me, and for the patience it must have taken for her to wait all those years until I registered and Fran started to work her magic.

I’m also so grateful to Fran for all her work. Thank you, Fran, for your care and professionalism and all your good advice. I’m so glad you could be a part of this experience. In fact, BMo and I refer to you as “our Fran” now! I hope anyone who might read this finds the story helpful, whether they’re only now just thinking about registering with the reunion registry or are worrying that they might have “left it too late”. This has been an amazing experience for me and I only hope that when they decide to go ahead with registering that Fran or someone like her is there to help.

Thanks again and all the best,

Deborah


September 10, 2013

My "story" began in 1969 at 17 years of age. I was having a baby and had no way to provide a safe and stable home. I had only myself to offer and that just wasn't enough. I gave my beautiful baby girl up for adoption and with her went a piece of my heart.

Six years later I had another little girl and then six years after that yet another baby girl. They definitely helped to fill the void not having Deborah had created. But every Jun 12th (Deb's birthday), every Christmas, mother's day and so many days between I wondered where she was, if she was happy, if she had a family that loved her as much as I did.

I registered my contact information in 1994, bought a stuffed white bunny and waited ......Deborah would have been 25 years old at that time. I wanted to find her more than anything but felt that if she wanted to contact me or just wanted medical history it was her decision to make, not mine.

I told my two other girls they had an older sister somewhere out in the world and maybe one day they will get to meet her. To be honest, I didn't think that day would ever come.... so when a phone call came from Fran to say "someone" wanted to contact me, well, I thought I was going to burst!! It could only be one person, the baby girl I had said goodbye to 43 years ago. There are no words to describe the rush of feelings that came from deep within me that I had fought and worked so hard to keep at bay all those years. I told my girls and they were very excited for me and for themselves.

Along with a letter, some pictures of myself and my two other daughters and the precious white bunny that had been in my care were mailed to Deborah. I received back a letter, pictures from the time she was 2 month's old to February 2013 and a children's book about a little girl and a horse (that book held a lot of meaning to Deborah). I shed many tears, and this time they were happy tears, over those pictures .....

After emails, phone calls and Skype it was planned that Deborah was to come to Abbotsford for the Mother's day weekend. I had to pinch myself to make sure this was really going to happen. My three girls together for Mother's day for the first time ever.... WOW.... to be able to actually see her and hug her in person after those long years of waiting.... that was the most healing warm feeling I have ever experienced. The piece of my heart and soul that had been missing was returned to me with that hug.

I was able to have the girls together to celebrate their birthdays (they were all born in June and exactly 6 years apart) for the first time and my sisters, my mom and of course my Grandchildren were able to meet Deborah and she them. What a wonderiul day that was.

We don't have an addition to the family, she has always been a member of my family, she was just missing for a very long time. I am sad that I missed so much of her life but am grateful to her adoptive family for loving her and providing her with a happy home to grow up in with a Sister and a Mom and Dad.

I look forward to the years ahead with Deborah back in my life and I know her sisters are so very happy to have their big sister in their lives as well.

All the pain and emptiness I went through was worth it to now feel the happiness I have with my baby girl back in my life. She will always be my baby girl.

My message to adoptive parents is please try to understand birth moms are not trying to take your place, we just want a place of our own in our children's lives.

My message to adoptees is to know that walking away from you is the hardest and biggest test of the love and strength that a mom can ever have to endure.

My message to birth moms out there, never give up, there is always the chance that your babies will come back to you.

Much thanks goes to "our Fran" as Deborah and l fondly refer to her as, because she is the person who orchestrated the beginning of our journey.

Susan

Created: 2013-10-10
Modified:
PID: 17255