SO, so much has happened in the past few days.
My letter to Keith finally bounced back to me, but I had found an email address for him.
At that point, I figured that it was possible that he wasn’t picking up my letter because maybe he suspected it was something bad. Since he already saw my name on the return address of the notification slips, I figured I should probably NOT send the email from my usual email address, since that contains my full name. But if not that, then what? After thinking about it for a long time, I got inspired to look up some Gaelic (Irish) words. Maybe I could find a word or two in Gaelic that felt particularly meaningful/lucky to me. The luck of the Irish, am I right? I figured he might know a few words in Gaelic here and there, given that he was raised to be proud of his Irish ancestry, but that the ones I chose would fall fairly safely outside of the “conversational-Gaelic” realm.
Ultimately, I chose to combine two that felt especially resonant:
Dóchas (Hope for the Future)
Putting them together, with our birthdate, just felt right.
Once I finished transferring the letter into email form (which took a heck of a long time because it was stormy and my internet kept going in and out), I had to figure out SOME kind of title that wouldn’t reveal too much, but also not seem like spam to just delete. While it wasn’t especially creative, I decided to keep it simple and went with “To Keith”. It took all the courage I could muster to finally hit “send”. “Take two”, I thought, “trying again”.
Not 30 seconds later, I received this fun message:
Gosh darn it! After pouring my heart and soul out, yet again, my plans had been foiled. Will this ever get to him???!?
I tried again several times, thinking maybe I just typed it wrong, or maybe he updated his email address to another provider, but kept the original first half before the @ sign. ANYTHING, I was willing to try anything. It just didn’t feel fair. But each time, I got the same message saying that my email had been kicked back to me.
I really wanted to still try for the email address, so, desperate, I reached out to my “new” cousins for help. Maybe they could discretely ask other family members if they had an updated email address for him? They said they would.
By the next morning, it seemed like we weren’t having all that much luck. However, I knew who we could ask who WOULD definitely know if he had an updated email address–one of his kids/my half-siblings. I figured that Danielle could ask nonchalantly, maybe asking for the whole family’s email addresses rather than singling him out. It was a big risk that our sibling would get suspicious and ask why, but by this point, our options were limited. It also was starting to feel increasingly less “right” that so many of my half-siblings’ family members knew about me but they didn’t. Maybe it WAS time for the truth. Danielle had already volunteered to introduce us anyway, and Meredith had suggested recently that it might be time to go that route.
So, I asked Danielle to reach out about the email address.
It was an hour later before I heard back.
I felt like I had been punched in the gut. Silence. I didn’t know what to say or how to respond. He knows about me? How? Is that why he wasn’t picking up the letter? Is he upset? If he knows and is upset, then she probably wouldn’t be offering his phone number to me…right?!
I really didn’t know if I wanted to know. Part of me said no, no, no thank you I don’t. This can’t be good. If he knows about me but hasn’t picked up my letter, and hasn’t tried to be in touch, this can’t be good.
But, being that I’m more curious than any cat I know…
Deeeeeep breaths. Deep breaths.
From there, she basically told me that my half-sister, “Courtney”, was asking if this was about the girl claiming to be Keith’s long-lost daughter. (Whelp, sort of). When Danielle confirmed, Courtney explained that Kristy had told Keith and Courtney’s Mom about me, and that they both assumed it was impossible and must be a scam.
Shit. She must not have been able to explain all the DNA details, which makes sense. And maybe she didn’t know how to explain the million details involved, and about how my parents’ fertility treatments at Jefferson Hospital fit in. Of course they would think I was a psycho.
Uuuuuugh. The last thing I ever wanted was to not only be cast out, but also not even believed. If he didn’t want anything to do with me after hearing me out, that would be one thing, but I still just KNEW that if I could only get him/them to read my letter, they would finally understand.
Thankfully, Danielle explained to Courtney that she had also DNA tested, along with several other Reardon family members, and that I’m on the official DNA match list for all of them, in the right relationship range. I’m not sure what else she said, but essentially she helped Courtney see that I’m a real person, just looking for the rest of my family. She also must have explained my alternate theory for how Keith might be our “donor”, even if he never voluntarily donated himself. If, like in the other cases I’ve heard of, the fertility doctors supplemented their stock of med student sperm samples with samples from their own patients, without their consent.
Danielle suggested that maybe Meredith should talk to Keith. I agreed that this would be a great idea, and even offered to email my letter to Danielle, who could then pass it along to Courtney and her family. Maybe it would have the information they need. She agreed.
Then, Courtney asked Danielle which facility my parents went to for their fertility treatments. I told her Jefferson Hospital, and her doctor’s name.
I frantically searched for a link to the doctor’s biography online so she would see that she really did work at Jefferson. Then I explained that my Mom still goes to see that same doctor to this day since she’s also an endocrinologist. She even got a script from her just last week! (I passed along a picture of this, too, for verification purposes. Sorry, Mom.) As I anxiously twisted my hair, I noticed that it was starting to come out, shedding furiously. It was peak stress, and I felt like I was going to throw up.
I needed them to know that I was telling the truth.
THANK GOD. I know they will see and hear me now. I sent the letter, knowing it would finally be received.
Then I waited. The ball was in their court. I went to sit outside, to be in nature. And to try to visualize a better future. I thought of what it would be like to get to hug each of my new family members, finally knowing who we were to each other.
When I came back inside, I knew that I would have to find a way to distract myself, so I turned on some awful reality-TV to binge watch. As strange as it sounds, I suddenly felt at peace. They finally had what I needed to give them.