Me and Humpty Dumpty in a park in Tauranga. We have a series of these photos from over the years.
I mentioned at the end of my On Being Adopted post that in March I received my original birth certificate. Getting it is a bit of a palaver. I had to fill out a 'Request for Pre-Adoptive New Zealand Birth Certificate (BDM451)' form and send it to Births, Deaths and Marriages, along with my payment of $15.30 - a random amount, don't you think? They then sent me back a form to sign to confirm that I did actually want to receive my original birth certificate (as if they think you don't when you've gone to all the effort to download and fill in the form, sent it off and paid the money?!) and to nominate a counsellor to receive it on my behalf - a legal requirement. Yes, I said, I do want to receive this form I specifically requested and paid for, thank you, and please send it to my social worker (we'll call her N) here in Hamilton.
A week or so later, N gives me a call to say she has my birth certificate and would I like to come and get it? Yes please! So I tootled into town, three children in tow none wearing shoes! Oops, how on Earth did I manage that? I felt like a terrible mother, and probably looked like one too! Blame it on distraction...) and traipsed up to the building to meet her. N gave me my original birth certificate as well as some information she had from my file.
Me and Mum, circa early 00's. I reckon here I'm about the age my birth mother was when I was born.
A lot of the information I already had, but there were bits and pieces of new stuff. Among the new information was the name and address of my birth mother's married sister, whom she stayed with while pregnant with me.
Let me take you on just a small tangent: it is very hard to search for a female when all you have is a maiden name and no idea if she ever got married. So, while I've known my birth mother's name for some time, I've never been able to find her.
4 years old
Okay, back to the story. A month passes, and on an afternoon pretty much exactly the same as this one, the thought strikes me that I should Google this married sister - now that I have enough information to find her (the sister, that is.). And guess what? I found her. She and her husband live in a small town close to ours (there are a few of these, so I don't think I'm giving away too much?) and they have some children too. Are you ready for the weird part? I know two of them! I have met and interacted with two of my birth-cousins. Is that not the strangest thing ever?! So weird.
So then I turned to good old Facebook and started searching through their friend's lists in the hope that they might be friends with their auntie - my birth mother. I realise this makes me sound like a stalker, but I am hoping that they don't mind too much... Sure enough, I found someone with the right first name and enough information regarding where she is from and went to school - though there's no photo (suspicious?) - who I believe could be her.
I also did a search for my birth mother's family (her parents and siblings, whose first names I was given) and found a listing on www.business.govt.nz for their family farm. This listing had everyone's names on it as shareholders. Then I (on my Dad's suggestion) did a search for this new name I had found (via FB) and we found her again. This time in a much longer list of shareholders, but still including both her parents and all her siblings and their spouses too, which leads me to believe that we are talking about the right person. The listing on this website also includes addresses (I'd say it's some sort of legal requirement for shareholders?) and I now have names and addresses for my birth mother and nearly every member of her family.
So there we go.
I found her.
She lives on the other side of the world.
Next step? Contacting her.
19 years old, somewhere in France
I want to meet my birth mother so much. So much. Reading through the letter that she wrote to my Mum and Dad about me before I was born just makes me want to fly over and knock on her door. I have only ever felt positively towards her (does that make sense?) and what she did for me, so I'm terrified that I'm setting myself up for disappointment. Part of me is reaching out in abject longing to know her and have some sort of relationship with her, while the other part is wrapping my arms around myself to restrain me from getting too emotionally involved with it all and being heart broken if she doesn't want to know me.
It turns out that that's the hardest part about this process - the unknown. Once I had a little bit of information it was easy to find her, but now it's the not knowing that I have to deal with. Not knowing if she's been waiting for this day as long as I have. Not knowing if she's been trying to forget that day her whole life. Not knowing if she wants me to find her. Not knowing if she hopes I don't. I do fear how this will all turn out and what it will bring to her life BUT I also know that she wanted me to know about her and I hold out the hope that maybe that means she's willing to make a place for me in her future? I think all I can do is try. Gather up the courage, reach out and hope that she'll at least be civilized!
What do you think? Send a letter now? Or wait a bit longer? Should I send photos of me growing up? Or just a photo of me now?
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On Contacting Her...
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On Being Adopted...