Hello, everyone, and welcome back to my blog. As promised, I am back with Part 5 of a very special journey. For those of you tuning in for the first time, I’ll recap and state that I have been on the hunt to discovering my heritage and finding my biological father, which after 16 years, has finally ended. If you are interested in reading about my journey from the start, please check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. I had ended my last blog post on a cliffhanger with finally figuring out who my biological father is, and how he wanted to contact me by phone.
So with that being said, I’ll just dive right in and say that my one and only paternal aunt had messaged me at 7:54pm EST on Friday February 22nd, 2019 via Facebook Messenger, asking me if it was okay for her brother (my birth father) to call me, and then she asked me for my phone number so that she may give it to him. I had just been helping my grandmother bring groceries and dinner into the house when I got those two messages. Immediately I was stunned for the second time on this particularly unusual day. I was sooo nervous and scared and excited at the same time. I will admit that after my paternal aunt had confirmed his identity for me earlier in the day, and right after she sent a photo of him that was a much more recent one compared to the 31-year-old photo I had, I did some snooping and peeked into some of his own Facebook profile information to see what I could find out about him.
At that point in the afternoon, I didn’t dare attempt to send him a friend request or even send him a message, because I didn’t know how he would have reacted if he heard from me before he heard from his own sister. That being said, I figured it would’ve been best to let my paternal aunt handle that, but in the meantime I checked out all the information that was available to me on his Facebook. Upon first look with my maternal grandma I could see he has been in Law Enforcement since he left the United States Air Force and currently holds the rank of Lieutenant in his respective place of employment. In going through his pictures that were available for public view, I could see he was also a Christian, and lived a fulfilling life as a husband and father to a beautiful family. It relieved me to know this, but then I couldn’t help but wonder … would he and his family accept me?
I wondered in that same few minutes between the time my paternal aunt said that her brother would call me and the time he actually called. Based on what I had seen on his profile, I couldn’t picture him denying me and the fact that we shared DNA, but would he have enough room in his heart to accept me? Or would he tell me in this phone conversation to leave him alone, because he already had a family? This fear of rejection overwhelmed me and my anxiety went through the roof, but that hope I had inside me didn’t take too long to shine through. Though it felt like hours, it was really only about one minute before I responded and gave his sister my phone number.
And then … he called! When his name came up on caller ID, Grams handed the phone to me, and I grew even more nervous and anxious. I answered it, and though it was a little awkward at first, all I wanted to do was cry. It was wonderful to hear his voice, and the more he talked, the more comfortable I felt in this conversation. I enjoyed listening to his voice mostly, as it was a first for me, and the conversation lasted for 1 hour, 37 minutes, and 34 seconds.
It was amazing and a relief to put a voice to the face in the photo above. It might sound weird but you must keep in mind that I am a Hard of Hearing individual who could become totally and completely Deaf later in life (we’re supposed to measure our Deafness by decibels, but most people don’t have any idea what that means, so for comprehension’s sake, I’ll just say my hearing loss is greater than 85% in both ears). For people who are born with sound and sight and lose one or both senses later in life, hearing and seeing things will make a world of a difference for them, and it’s hard for most others to comprehend, but these are things that the late-in-life Deafened or Blinded treasure, because they’ll carry these senses with them when they transition into a new way of life after becoming Deaf or Blind. That being said, you can understand the impact this conversation and this man’s voice had on me. Should I ever go Deaf completely, I’ll be able to look at him, and when he talks, remember what his voice sounded like.
I have heard sooo many horror stories of people being rejected by their biological parent(s), or the biological parent(s) have already passed away before they ever meet them. However, I am blessed and fortunate to say that this is not the case with me. The man I had spoken to on the phone was kind, warm, and very welcoming. He told me about, and introduced me to his wife, who is also my stepmother, and he told me all about my 2 younger sisters and 2 younger brothers. I remembered the fact that the 23andMe test I took didn’t give me any reports at the time about certain health conditions that I know run on my mother’s side, so I had also gotten the family health history questions out of the way on that same call. After the call had ended, I had to fight with every fiber of my being to keep my composure and to keep from breaking down.
Even now as I write this, I write this with tears blurring my vision. I noticed something after that call that I had never noticed in my entire life. It literally felt like that phone call had lifted the weight of the world from my shoulders. I hadn’t realized until that point just how much not knowing the truth before this call affected me! Even now I still have to fight to keep it together.
These past 2 months have been one totally insane emotional roller coaster. Instead of missing out on only one relationship with a long-lost sibling while growing up, like I had with my oldest brother from my maternal side, I now had missed out on 4. I am deeply saddened by how much I missed out on with not only them, but my stepmother, and my father. I also feel a lot of peace, knowing who everyone on my paternal side is, and where they come from. I am also glad I know the family health history, so that I can take pro-active measures into my own hands as best as one can.
Another thing that saddened me was how in the phone conversation, my birth father had apologized for not knowing of my existence, and stated that had he known I existed, he would’ve been there for me. I may not know yet what it’s like to be a parent, but I imagine it would feel just as devastating as I felt knowing I had siblings out there that I didn’t get to grow up with, but magnified by so much in the parental sense. In knowing what I’ve known for many years about the circumstances from which I was born, I knew he was not to blame in the slightest bit, and I told him this. In fact, I’m not placing blame on anyone. It is what it is, and the past is the past, and all we can do is move forward from here.
With that said, I want to tell you it excited me to learn more about my father in our phone conversation. After he and my mother parted ways, he was sent overseas to England where he was stationed, and he is a combat veteran who served in Iraq and Somalia, and respectively earned recognition with some accommodations (or medals, if you will) as a Senior Airman. After 8 years of service, he returned stateside in 1994 and became a police officer. Over the years, he has become a decorated officer with the currently held rank of Lieutenant, and has a well-established background of being a certified Police Instructor/Training Unit, D.A.R.E. Officer, Crime Scene Investigator, DWI Instructor, School Resource Officer, just to name a few. In addition to his career as a police officer, he has even spent a few years from 2003 to 2006 as a Navy Police Officer in the United States Navy Reserve (where he also earned more accommodations/medals). In knowing what I know now since we’ve been in contact daily after that first phone call, and where he comes from in some hardships he has had to endure in his young life, and of course in seeing where he has taken his life … I can tell you he has overcome a lot with strength, courage, and faith. Even several people from his life have shown me or told me what a well-respected person he is in their community. This made me feel good about the type of person he is, and my heart is absolutely full, and I am so happy to know that half of my DNA comes from him.
Ever since that first contact with him and my stepmother, it’s like my life changed overnight. I honestly never in a million years thought I would ever find him, but that little sliver of hope that I had was enough to take an Ancestry DNA test. Just imagine … after 16 years of hunting for my biological father … and all I had to do … was take a DNA test! Mind you, if I’d have taken it years ago when I first turned 18, I would probably still be waiting until this time to find him, because my paternal aunt didn’t send in the Ancestry DNA test until January, so I would have still had to wait until February 22nd, 2019. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason.
I will confess that since February 22nd, I have literally woken up every morning to either look at the photo of him that I’ve had for a few years, or some other photos of him, and sometimes a quick glance over our most recent conversations in order to feel like he’s really there. The best way I can describe this is … it’s like I keep feeling like I’m going to wake up and find that this is all a dream, that this isn’t real, that I have a bitter reality just waiting for me to open my eyes. This might sound strange to most people, but from what I’ve been told from other people in my situation, it’s perfectly normal to feel this way in the beginning, because it’s all just sooo overwhelming and takes time for the mind to digest it all. It makes sense to me, because I’ve spent 30 years of my life without this man in it, and spent all of my childhood without a father in my life (except for when I was a baby, where my birth certificate father was there for me until he and my mother split up and, mama and I moved up here to PA when I was 2, but naturally I can’t recall any of this), yet my life has changed overnight with the sudden presence of my biological father. I know in my heart that he would not just turn me away, but it will take some time for my mind to register this and sync up with my heart, so I am just dealing with this as I go along.
Even though I grew up without my birth father and stepmother, as well as without my brothers and sisters, I am pleased to announce that I don’t need to go another day without them in my life. I’m saddened that there are 3 states between us, but I try not to let the distance get to me, as we talk or video chat via Facebook Messenger, and sometimes we have some fun with a little Snapchat or Marco Polo (a free iPhone/Android video chatting app for people who have busy schedules, yet still want video chat—can be a kind of “live,” but also it’s like a pre-recording like Snapchat, but Marco Polo keeps the video, but you still have the option to delete manually). In fact, soon, my birth father and stepmother will actually be here in Pennsylvania to visit me. I’m a little disappointed that none of my siblings will come along but yet I understand, as most of them are still in school, so I’ve decided that I am going to take my own vacation next year in 2020 to visit them. Still, I am just overfilled with joy, peace, and anxiety, as I can hardly wait!
I can’t help but get more emotional as we get closer to the date. I just know that on the day we all meet, I’m going to be just as riddled with tears and happiness and relief and joy as I was on the day that I met my older brother for the first time after not knowing him for the first 19 years of my life. This has been such a crazy ride, but I’m loving it, and excited for what the future holds. In the meantime, I’d like to share some photos with you that my father has shared with me of his childhood. I absolutely love looking at these photos. Also, of course, in my next post I will share photos of him to show the age progression from his time in the military to what he looks like now … when I meet him and my beautiful stepmother! But for now, I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I have (FYI: for family privacy purposes on all branches of my tree, and because this is what I prefer, I will not be releasing any names in any post on my blog). Also, I will end my post here, so I hope you have a wonderful morning / afternoon / evening ahead of you, and an even better weekend as well!