Alternate Paths Forward

It’s now the end of June, and I just received a notice a couple of days ago that the letter I sent Keith is being shipped back to me.  He never picked it up at the post office.

Meredith did try calling him again, but wasn’t able to get through, so she left another voicemail (simply asking him to call her back, not disclosing anything about the reason for her call).  He never got back to him.  Honestly, I can’t help but think that he and Kristy may have talked, and he might have gotten freaked out, but it’s equally possible that this is all in my head.  Even if that did happen, it would be totally normal for him to initially react with a bit of hesitance and fear.  Whether he voluntarily “donated” or not, he wouldn’t have expected to hear from us one day.  No one ever thought that technology would overcome the original arrangement of anonymity.  And if he didn’t voluntarily “donate”, and if he even believes all of this is true, then that has to be one huge mind-“explosion” (to keep things PC).

But at the same time, we’re only humans on the other side of that fact.  Humans begotten by him.  Strangers that nature never intended to be anonymous to one another.  Or at least not in the absence of insurmountable tragedy.

I was in Haddonfield/Collingswood, NJ with my Mom the other day, catching up with family and running some errands.  As we had lunch in a local diner, I looked around the room, wondering if any of my “other” family would be there.  As we rode around town in the car, I looked at the street signs, wondering if we would haphazardly pass his street on our way to where we were going.  So physically close, but there’s still 32 years between us, and that’s a lot of distance.

Last week, when I told Meredith that Keith still hadn’t picked up the letter, (and Kristy still hadn’t gotten back to me since her trip about a month ago), we wondered about other possibilities for finally reaching him.  I could call, but, honestly, I just don’t feel comfortable with that.  What would I even say?  How could I possibly initiate that conversation?  Without knowing whether or not he intentionally “donated”, there’s just no clear-cut and appropriate way to enter that conversation, or at least not that I can think of.  Besides, a.) I’m MUCH better at communicating sensitive/complicated thoughts via writing and b.) something in my just knows that it would be better for him to passively take in my introduction than for him to abruptly need to answer me in the moment.  I just KNOW that if he were to fully read the letter and see the pictures of us growing up, that enough of his fears would be assuaged and he would SEE us enough to open up to us.

The possibility of reaching out to my half-siblings instead was brought up.  I do definitely want to.  But I’m concerned that if I don’t try hard enough to get in touch with him first before approaching my half-siblings, then I might lose what chance I had with him.  He might really value the opportunity to tell them first.  Besides, it’s entirely possible that he still doesn’t know about any of this, and going to him first might make all the difference.  I would like for him to be able to tell them about us himself, if that would be his preference, and I don’t want to take that option away from him without at least giving him the opportunity to do it himself.  It’s another story entirely if I’m able to get through to him and he expresses that he doesn’t want contact with us.  That’s something I’m willing to respect, provided he would at least be willing to hear us out first by reading the letter.  However, if that’s the choice that he makes, it would have to be with the understanding that it’s a choice that he can only make for how HE proceeds with our relationship.  His kids are adults at this point in their own right, too, and should have the decision-making power to choose and manage their own relationships that they make space for in their lives.  Hopefully it won’t come to that.  If it does, maybe they would want the same thing as him, but my heart tells me that at least one of them would want to reconnect.  It’s not blasphemy to want to know and relate to your own biological family, but it is sometimes an act of courage and love.

I’ve also thought about the possibility of sending the letter again, but just through regular mail.  The only trouble there is that I wouldn’t know if that would impact his privacy, since I don’t know how many other people live with him and what their internal policy is around sharing/opening each other’s mail (which can be pretty normal and totally benign).  It’s just probably not how he would want other close family members to find out about this, although I hope that they’re the kind of people who would be understanding.  His wife struggled to conceive initially herself (she participated in a newspaper article about this, so I feel like that’s okay to share here, too). Given her own experience with fertility issues, hopefully she would understand what my parents went through. As a biological parent, I’d hope that she would also understand our curiosity around our own biological parental connections.

So, I’m trying to avoid the regular mail route for right now.  Some people have suggested the possibility of using a courier, but given the nature of his work, I don’t really think that it would pan out.

With all of that in mind, back to the internet I went to try and find a dang email address for him.  Through Spokeo and a couple other services (getting a trial account), I was finally able to locate an email address for him.  Granted, it was through AOL, so who knows if it’s even still active, but I think that some people still use it.  Even if it is still active, who knows how often (if at all) he even CHECKS it, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take at this point.  It’s better than the alternate options, and is certainly better than nothing.

So, yes, sometime in the next week I plan to send him our letter in email format.  I might try to send a test-email to him first, just to see if it bounces back.

This past weekend, I was at my Dad’s annual family reunion.  It was great to be back and to catch up.  They will always be our family; their love and support of us is just as thick as blood.  It was a nice reminder.

While there, one of my cousins and his wife were telling us about how his Mom had to secretly give up a baby girl for adoption when she was a teenager.  She had to live with that secret until about a year ago.  Since then, her daughter-in-law helped her locate her birth-daughter, and apparently it has been life-altering in the best of ways for them to be reconnected.  I spoke with my cousin a bit afterward about what it was like to find out you have a half-sibling, as an adult.  He also just put me in touch with his new half-sibling so that we can share experiences and support.  It’s fascinating to me, yet I also want to better understand what it might be like for my own half-siblings to find out about me, and how I can make it as easy for them as easy and pain-free as possible to process.  I know I can’t ultimately control those things and how someone reacts, but maybe I can at least shape the optimum path for acceptance…and possibly even some sort of relationship.  I like to think that it’s not too late for us. For any of us.

Are you there?