Let me start all the way at the beginning...over 60 years ago. My mother was born to two college students, and it was decided that she would be given up for adoption. Not many people in her biological family knew what was going on, but fortunately my mother was adopted into an amazing family. The adoption wasn't talked about, though basically everyone in my mother's extended adoptive family new about it, and for most of her life my mother really had no urge or intention to find her biological family - she had loving family and amazing parents, so what was the need, right? Then her adoptive father (Grandpa Bill) died in 2000 and her adoptive mother (Grandma Bess) in 2006, and I brought up the topic a few times to my mom over the years since then. I had even read this book about identical twin girls who had been adopted separately at birth and then found each other and, I believe, their birth family. I was pretty sure my mom wasn't a twin, but I was definitely curious about her birth family. In the fall of 2012 I saw an ad for an agency that helped get adoption records and find birth families, and I was finally able to convince her to see what we could find out.
Fast forward through several months of getting documents signed, notarized, and filed away with the agency...and, of course, waiting. In early March 2013, my mom received her adoption papers which named her birth mother (Grandma Lotta). Luckily for us her birth mother had a very uncommon name, so that coupled with the non-identifying information that we had from the adoption agency made it very easy to track her family down. Some basic genealogical searches led me right to the family within hours. Then I made a leap and contacted someone that was connected to the family on the genealogical website that I use (geni.com). I had no idea how close or far related this person was, but it was all that I had to go on.
I waited a few days and hadn't heard back from the woman, so I figured she probably thought I was totally insane. I mean, I had basically sent her a short note saying I thought this particular person on her family tree was my biological grandmother! Not exactly the type of email you expect to receive... But, in the intervening days this woman contacted one of Grandma Lotta's other children, Aunt Gina, who then used her expertise to track me down. She called my house and got my babysitter, who was completely confused. I was at school at the time, and my babysitter calls me on my cell phone saying she got a call from some random lady saying she was my sister or something. Immediately I knew it had to be my mother's sister, not mine, and I tried to keep from screaming gleefully into the phone. I don't think I was particularly successful at this, though. Luckily Aunt Gina had left her number with my babysitter, so I called her right up. And we talked...shared some basic information, tried to get our stories all straight, etc. It was March 4, Grandma Bess's birthday - coincidences like that just don't happen. In any case, none of the biological family even knew about the pregnancy, adoption, etc...except for one person - Grandma Lotta's brother - who eventually confirmed what we already had figured out. But that confirmation took a few days. I still have the voicemail saved that my Aunt Gina left on my cell phone when she got that final confirmation that she and my mom were sisters. There was no blood test necessary. The stories checked out perfectly, we had the document with Lotta's name and my mom's name, and just look at the family resemblance!
Guess which one is my mom and guess which one is her birth mother... ;) Even just looking at my mom and aunt next to each other now you can see they have the same nose and such. Aunt Gina has even said that sitting and talking to my mom feels like she's looking at their mother. Chana B has a very strong resemblance to one of my other aunts as well.
And that's why I haven't been able to update! I've wanted to post about our July adventures for ages, but I couldn't possibly do it without talking about Aunt Gina! Now that you're all clued in, hopefully in my next post I can get to talking about our fun in July and August...with pictures, of course. :) And there will be more to tell about Grandpa Joel, too.
P.S. I use the terms adoptive and biological/birth only to make things more easy to understand. Grandpa Bill and Grandma Bess will always be my grandparents who I love and miss terribly, I just happen to now have additional family to get to know, including some who live right here in Boston. The heart never gets consumed, it only grows bigger.