Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Christmas Eve I'll Never Forget

I've been wanting to write this post since Christmas Eve but wasn't sure exactly what to say. I wanted to get it perfect. I also worried that I didn't have the "right" to do this post since it's not just my story, it involves my whole family. But after running it by my mom, I'm finally ready to share the story of a Christmas Eve I'll never forget.

It all began when I spoke to my mom the day before Christmas Eve. I could tell when she said "Hi" that something was up - there was something in her voice that seemed different. She said something like, "Remember the son I gave up for adoption?" I said "Yes." She continued, "Well, he found me and he wants to meet all of us tomorrow." (He lives in North Carolina and was only going to be in Michigan for a little bit for the holidays.) I'm not sure what kind of reaction my mom expected but I said something like, "I think that's great!!!" As she talked and shared all the details she knew about my brother Kevin, I got more and more excited to meet him. (Technically he's my "half brother" but I don't think like that - he's my brother plain and simple.)

Though I've known about Kevin for over 20 years my mom and I have never really talked about all the details surrounding his adoption. In fact, I have learned more over the last few weeks than I have my whole life. When I was in my teens maybe even tweens my mom told me and my sister that she had placed a child for adoption shortly before she met my dad. She told me that it was a boy and that his family already had a lot of kids when they adopted him. (Turns out he has 5 older sisters and 1 younger sister!) Besides that I didn't know much else. I could tell when my mom told us that it was difficult for her to talk about. Even at my young age I think I knew this was a painful subject for my mom and I think I avoided the subject so that I wouldn't make my mom sad.

Of course many years later as Dave and I turned to adoption as a way to add to our family, I couldn't help but think about my brother and what my mom had gone thru so many years ago. At one of our first meetings at a potential adoption agency Dave and I were told that most domestic infant adoptions aren't from young teenage mothers like most people think. The majority of birthmothers are actually single mothers in their 20's who already know how hard it is to raise a child on their own. I couldn't help but think of my mom.

As I mentioned before, this is not just my story, it's my mom's (and Kevin's). So it's not my place to talk too much about what happened 40 years ago. However, I can say that my mom was a single mother going thru a divorce and raising my brother Chris who was around 3 1/2 at the time she discovered she was pregnant. It must have been so hard for her back then - working and raising a young son on her own. When she discovered she was pregnant and then the father (who turned out to be married) disappeared I can only imagine the fear and anguish she must have felt. She must have been so worried about how she would be able to provide for another child, since she was already struggling with one child. After my mom had Kevin she tried to keep him for a few months but ultimately decided that adoption was the best thing for him. I can't even begin to imagine the immense love and deep pain my mom must have felt as she gave her small baby to his new family. What a miracle that almost 40 years later she got to hold him in her arms again!

I met my brother Kevin and part of his family on Christmas Eve. In his words, "the only wierd thing was that it wasn't wierd." Of course at first it seemed a little strange - I felt like I kept staring at him to see if he looked like any of us. (I kept thinking he reminded me a little of my uncle - my mom's brother - when he was talking. Then when we got the pictures back I thought he and my mom had the same kindof smile. As I study the pictures more I wonder if I see myself and my brother and sister in him too - the eyes, the shape of the face?)

Kevin turned out to be a really great guy! He also brought his wife, his youngest daughter who's 17, and his granddaughter who's 2. We all got along so well - especially considering that we just met.

The kids - Lexie, my 2 1/2 year old niece and Kevin's granddaughter - got along really well and had a great time playing. Here they are dancing together:

As the kids played Kevin talked about how he found mom. While looking for addresses for Christmas cards this year Kevin plugged mom's name into and that's how he found her! It turns out he had a letter that my mom had sent him when he was still a baby so he had her name from that. He has always known that he was adopted which I'm so glad about. I know back at that time adoption was often a big secret. I'm so happy for him and for us that his parents were honest with him from the beginning.

One of the coolest things about the day was that Kevin brought a scrapbook of his life that his wife had made which he GAVE to my mom. It included pictures of him as a baby, all his school pics, pictures from adulthood and a page for each of his kids and one for his granddaughter. (He has 3 kids - 2 girls ages 20 & 17 and a boy age 19.) This scrapbook meant so much to my mom and to all of us. It was cool to be able to see a little bit of the almost 40 years we've missed. (My mom and I are already planning a scrapbook for him - a scrapbook about our family so he can learn more about all of us.)

The whole night felt so comfortable! It was pretty amazing! He got to my mom and dad's a little after 1pm and didn't leave until after 7pm! I think he probably would've stayed even longer but his granddaughter was tired. When I hugged him goodbye I said "Thank you for finding us." As I was hugging him (and holding back tears) I couldn't help but wonder if this was it. Would he want anything more to do with us? Did he feel as comfortable with us as we did with him? Did he like us as much as we liked him?

Well, all my fears were put to rest a couple days later when my mom told me that Kevin had called her. He now talks to her a couple times a week & has even begun calling her "Mom." He called me a couple weeks ago and we talked for over 20 minutes. He's also talked to my brother Chris (who lives in Florida) on the phone a few times. They're even making plans to meet each other soon!

I'm so excited to get to know Kevin, though it's all kind of surreal. I've thought so much about my mystery brother over the years, especially since Dave and I decided to adopt. I can't believe Kevin and his family are now a part of our family! What a wonderful Christmas gift! God is good!

1 comment:

Love my boys said...

Wow, what a wonderful story! Made me cry!