Sneak Peak

I thought it would be fun to add a post that had some of the pictures from my trip to California.  These are all the adults, as I didn’t want to post pictures of the little ones without permission! But take my word for it, not only are they beautiful and precious kids, but I fell in love with all of them!

Now – without further delay, enjoy as you look at what I am blessed to call Family!

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IMG_3202[1]These people changed my life.  I look at these pictures and realize they were literal stranger and now I love them, as if I’d known them a life time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is my sister Becky and her son, Marcos.  I love this picture!  The one next to it is my family. My sisters and brothers, who welcomed me with no reservation. I love them, so so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cake!!  I loved eating this cake!  It is a reminder of how amazing this life is, and how loved I am!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bear paws!!  I will write about this soon.  These hands could be my sons!

 

 

 

And this sign, meant more to me than they can ever imagine. And my mama. They say I look like her. She was an amazing lady and I wish I had known her.  But I get to see her through my family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PARTY! We partied all weekend.  This was amazing and so much fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think I look very Native American here.  And that is my amazing hubby.  I loved that we were together here.  He held me up and supported me through this entire experience.

 

 

Laughter.  I was laughing and it is a great example of all the laughter that filled this trip. By the way, that’s Dickie in the dark shirt.  He is my big brother and I am so thankful for him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See?  More laughter!!

 

 

 

 

Armando, the guy in the hat, is also my brother.  He is so much taller than me, and I really loved that he was there.  Hugs.  That’s what I remember about him.

 

Pretty much, this is my family in these pictures.  I love these people!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homecoming

As the Day approached, I kept saying I didn’t know what to expect.  In my heart I knew I couldn’t be disappointed if I didn’t have any expectations. It’s that easy, right? I was happy about the reunion of course. Although “re”-union probably wasn’t a good word to describe what I was about to go through.  It was more like a meeting, an introduction, a first time event.  It was hard to describe using words. The rollercoaster of feelings taking me up, and then as quickly spiraling down as I feared the worst. The ups maintained as the downs were few and far between.  How could I be down when my life was about to become so much fuller with new siblings and family members I never knew existed?

Family has always been important to me.  I’ve made plenty of mistakes, don’t get me wrong. But now, at this time in my life, family is more important to me than anything. I know what it’s like to lose my family, to walk away and wonder later what happened. I know what it means to long for relationship only to be disappointed by the consequences of my own actions. The result of this is to put value on my family and for them to be in a place of honor in my life.  My adult children probably don’t realize how much they mean to me.  It is easy for a mother to vocalize the importance of her children, but it is much harder to move the mountains of wounds to prove your love for them.  I don’t always make the right decisions and I certainly did not have a good example in my own adopted mother. But today, in this moment, I’m not sure there is anything more important to me than my family.

Family

I hear my husband and father in law chatting in the front seat as we drive to the airport. They seem less concerned with me and more in to the latest status of our Texas Rangers baseball team. Here I am beyond nervous, trembling because the anticipation has gone from fear to excitement and longing for it to reach a secure peace in the unknown. I struggle with my Ziploc bag full of makeup, trying to apply it from the back seat while we drive down the highway. My elderly father in law, swerving in and out of traffic, moving the car from side to side doesn’t benefit my attempt. The result is my mascara flying back and forth trying not to create raccoon eyes in the process.  Why in the world didn’t I sit up front with the mirror? What will I look like when I get there, applying eyeliner with no reflection? What was I thinking waiting to the last minute to get ready? And why in the world did we not call Uber??

Passages

He does it every time. As we walk down the jet way towards the plane, my husband reminds me he always touches the outside of the plane as he steps in, reaching up to place his hand on the exposed body of the aircraft.  It’s not superstition, but almost a habit he’s kept up throughout his life. So there we are, waiting to board and I see the edge of the plane. It is in this moment I have to question this doorway I’m about to walk through. It’s almost like a gameshow and I have to pick the door with the biggest prize. Only there’s only one door, and I don’t get the prize until we land in another state. I step over the threshold, reach up, and my fingers touch the outside of the aircraft gently symbolizing the choice I’ve made. I am embarking on a journey I spent my life denying I would ever take.

We navigate to the only two seats left together at the very back of the plane.  Typically, this would bother me and I would spend the entire flight hearing every engine noise wondering about the rattles and shakes of the flight. Today is different. I take my seat, leaving my husband to adjust our belongings as we prepare for takeoff. I sit back, buckling my seatbelt and allow myself, for the first time, to feel the emotions that have welled up in my heart.

So here I sit, looking at the upright tray table with the shade down on the window as the engines roar and we begin the ascent up the runway. Tears randomly stream down my face, with no explanation. I can’t help but ask myself, why me? And why now? The “why’s” enter my mind and the tears appear, when least expected. What if they don’t like me? Is my makeup ok? Did I wear the right top? What if we made a mistake and they aren’t my family? Maybe I should’ve curled my hair instead of leaving it straight? Will they like my nail color? Is it too bright? Or maybe that isn’t the root of my tears at all.

Recently I began to wonder, are the personality traits others have condemned in me, are they really who I am and maybe – just maybe – my family will recognize them in me? Growing up in a generation where dark skin was called out as inferior I was used to being rejected. The “what if’s” were dragging me down that road of fear of rejection.  I thought I’d left that path and wasn’t looking forward to facing it again.

Seriously. I don’t know how to do this thing – this birth family thing. I don’t know how to act, or what to say. What will they think of me? And really, what in the WORLD was I thinking?  I bought a ticket, to a place I’ve never stayed to meet people I’ve never met and to allow myself to become a part of something I’ve never known. In less than an hour I will meet a part of my family I didn’t know existed until just a few weeks ago.

There they are, the tears again….

Welcome home

We struggled with whether we should carry on or check our baggage. When we arrived at the Sacramento airport, we were ok with the fact we had agreed to check the one suitcase with all of our belongings. We stepped off the plane, I pause briefly, took a deep breath, and moved forward in to what would change me forever.

As we walked through the airport, the voices and sounds of the rolling bags and speakers calling some to board echoed through the terminal. I counted my steps, holding tight to my husband’s supportive arm. The sign for baggage claim called to me, I was drawn to it like the sirens. The nervousness left me and I felt myself walk past security as if I could see myself from the outside. My walk became less deliberate as I stepped on to the down escalator.  In that moment I looked, wondering if I would recognize my sisters from the pictures I’d studied so hard. How would they know it was me? Would I feel familiar to them at all?

So many questions, and not enough answers as I felt myself glide down the moving stairs. It was about halfway down, but possibly a little less or a little more, I saw them. There was no doubt in my mind and no question in my heart. I looked up and knew it was a sign for me. Literally. There was this huge, beautiful sign with the words “Welcome Home Little Sis, Jesi” written across it. And for the first time in my 52 years of life, I saw the most beautiful sisters waiting for me. I began to cry years’ worth of tears in just the few minutes it took to get to the bottom of the escalator. I saw her first, not specifically but because my eyes were drawn to her. She was familiar to her pictures, but I didn’t see her features instead I saw her mother like love. Her physical wasn’t important in that moment but instead her arms opened to me. I had not allowed myself to dream such a beautiful scene. I didn’t see what she wore, or her shoes or even her hairstyle. The physical appearance ceased to matter in that moment. What I did see was a woman who was ready to receive me, unconditionally, with her arms spread wide ready to receive her baby sister.

As my sister wrapped her arms around me, I knew – I was home.  

Mirror Mirror

As part of the series I’m writing on my adoption and birth family story this entry grew in my heart from the experience of growing up in an unfamiliar family. The previous post was the beginning of my story but I’ve decided this may be a better start to the journey.


As I look down the bleachers, they sit there, hot and dusty. The sweat beginning to appear at their temples as they watch the scrimmage with intensity. There is no official attire, only mismatched shirts with the pants to random uniforms. Each parent cheering on the team, hoping their child does better than the last. It’s almost as fun to watch the parents as it is the players.

Beyond the metal seats, past the parents and coaches, I see him. Through the fence and in to the dugout, there he sits. The mask on the ground beside him, rocking as he dropped it to his feet. The dirty black chest protector hangs on his chest, with the straps falling over his shoulder revealing how big they really are on his little body. The knee pads are half strapped on, revealing the struggle of keeping them on when he is behind the plate. His dark wiry hair disheveled and wet from the sweat, he brushes it aside as his looks out onto the field.

At the moment I saw him, my glance only for an instant, I fell back in time.  It was all too familiar, this player sitting there in the equipment that swallowed him like his passion for the game. Remembering back I saw his father sitting there, just as determined and zealous for any chance to play in the game. His knees bent slightly and his backside on top of the seat back he would jump at every exciting moment of the scrimmage.

With the cheer of the crowd I was brought back to today. I wondered, was there anyone I favored?  Would anyone look at me and say I looked just like my mother? For as long as I can remember I longed to look like someone. I would walk through the hall of my friends’ homes and see their family portraits. They would all look alike, having eyes that favored or chins the same. Never leaving a doubt they belonged together.

I have a vivid memory as I watched my adopted father check out of the grocery store many years ago. The checker being overly nice, asked my father if I belonged to him. He smiled and confirmed I was his daughter. She looked me in the eye and said, “You look just like your daddy!”. If only for themirror moment I felt as if I belonged.  I remember the feeling as if she could see within my soul. She said the words I had longed to hear.

The satisfaction I felt and believed to be true was short lived as my adopted mother laughed when my father told her the story after we returned home. She reminded me of just how dark my skin was and how I looked nothing like him. She described the very white world we lived in and how I was not like the others. I’m not sure she really knew how this cut me to the core, or maybe I would like to believe she didn’t know. But it is a memory I’ll never forget. It was in that moment I decided I would never look for where I began.

Do You Know Who You Are?

As a child I always knew I was adopted. There was never a time I didn’t know. I knew my mother and father were musical, I had several siblings and I was 5 1/2 months old when they “got” me. I knew my last name and where I was born. I also knew I was given away at birth.

There are so many reasons rejection followed me through my life. As an adopted child, my life began with rejection. Add to this my dysfunctional childhood with an alcoholic mother, and the sum result is an adult who lived her life running from fear of rejection.

As many before me have said – but God. It took me until my 40’s to learn what God had for me and who He says I am. Finding my identity in Him changed my life, although it is a weakness I fight often. In my faith I’m able to maintain my peace and God’s grace continues to keep my heart full of His love. So at a time when God led me to a new career, blessings beyond measure and a life I’ve dreamed of the idea of finding my birth family seemed a far away dream.

As a child I never thought much about my birth family. My adopted mother, who honestly I’ve never added that distinction until recently, reminded me often that I was given away and rejected from the time I was born. With this in mind, why in the world would I want to find a family who didn’t want me anyway?

Until now.

This last Christmas my oldest son and daughter in love gave me a dna test from Ancestory.com. I didn’t ask for it, and had not given it a second thought. But when I opened it, I cried uncontrollably. This was something my heart knew and my mind had not accepted. I had an innate need to know where I came from.

It took me a couple of weeks before I could bring myself to take the dna test. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew this was opening a door I wasn’t sure I was ready to walk through.

When I received the results I didn’t know what to do. My ethnicity wasn’t exactly what I expected and this test linked me with others who had similar dna. D.N.A. This links me to people, real humans, I am related to by blood. Something I’ve not had knowledge of my entire life.

Interestingly enough my first link wasn’t to someone through DNA. My son found a link to who he was fairly confident was my brother – or some relation very close. So I took a leap. I messaged him. I sent him an note, opening my heart to rejection, and gave him a short description of who I am.

It took a few weeks, but I received a response. I will never forget where I was when I received that first email. He was letting me know I must be mistaken. He wasn’t aware of any baby not in his family and he was very kind – but it wasn’t the right person. **SIGH** OK, so maybe we were wrong.

Shortly after, he emailed again. He let me know he contacted his older sister – and there was baby he didn’t know about. There was a baby given away around the time I was born.

I was speechless.