True story of how we sometimes make discoveries about where we come from.
I, and a sibling I grew up with, were born in a small town in a far-off country. I know the day, year, and place for both our births, but not the exact times of our births. The latter information is significant only to those interested in tracking the impact of stars and planets on one's life. I never did—but knowing a time of day would be a small matter of interest.
We grew up in a different country-the one where we have lived now for decades, learning a language other than the one of my birth. Our parents, those who raised us since infancy, are not the ones who gave birth to us. What might have been our native tongue was a second language for them. While we knew the name of my birthplace, both country and town, the name of birth-parents, brothers or sisters (except for this one), were not things any social institution felt necessary to impart to us or my new parents. Such is the way things go.
Our new parents never kept from us the fact that I was not originally theirs. It was not a matter of significance. For my part, I had no driving need to identify myself based upon who had borne me or where I had taken my first breath. They gave me a good home, they were and are loving, devoted, always-present, and I could not have wished for better.
I was satisfied. While others around me fought with their parents (who were nearly always their biological parents), I did not. Through my own devices, I felt strongly that I was "creating myself" as I grew older, so my identity through blood or law was never a question in my mind. My blissful contentment in this personal matter of nature or nurture was in great part also due to the simple fact that I had no real way, so I thought, of ever finding any information about biological family.
The day came when I married a wonderful person, to whom I am still married. As it turned out, my new family-by-marriage knew a great deal about their own family tree, able to trace back through centuries. I felt like Athena, suddenly springing full-grown out of Zeus' head one day, or Aphrodite appearing in full adult form on the crest of the waves. Later on we had children, and I looked into the faces of my little darlings, and saw myself and my ancestors peering back happily at me. Curiosity began to peck at me, ever-so-gently. But still—no course of action, no path toward discovery, presented itself to me.
Then one day, I wrote two letters. One was to the agency which had facilitated my adoption. The other was to the agency that facilitated my change of nationality. I had no real confidence that anything would come of either letter. Bureaucratic red tape, the passage of so much time, and general fatalistic acceptance, sat on my shoulders for days. Days turned into weeks.
But the universe is sometimes whimsically kind. One day a letter arrived, from the adoption agency. Without using any names (guaranteeing privacy) it told me that I had several siblings, including the one adopted with me. Although nothing was said as to whether or not they were alive, the letter made my heart pound with excitement. But it really added little to my family knowledge. But two weeks later, a large envelope arrived from the second agency. Enclosed within it was a sheaf of papers, including one that listed the names and dates of birth of my biological mother and all five children, including mine, and the sibling with whom I had grown up. I felt like I had discovered a fabulous diamond mine. I knew names, and I could shout them out to the universe in gratitude.
Life was good, and I was once again satisfied. I held some mild regret that I could not learn if my birth family lived, but at least I could whisper their names in my meditation times.
But once again as the universe turns, serendipity kicks a gear and wondrous things can occur. I had acquired another curiosity—not about family this time, but about language. In various readings and researches I had learned that the place where I had been born had its own distinctive dialect. I had along since discovered that a great deal of fascinating information can be found on the Internet, and I had been a happy Internet user for years. In surfing the 'Net one day then, I came across a website which as it turned out contained material written in the dialect about which I had curiosity. I skimmed the page with growing excitement, and then learned to my amazement that the page was maintained by someone from the very town of my birth. An email address was included.
Could it be so simple? I had written many emails before to complete strangers over the years about various and sundry matters, never anything that was of personal import, and had never received a reply. Why should this time be any different, especially since it was of personal interest. But sometimes one has to follow a whim, so I wrote an email. I related how I was pleased to have found the website, since I had been born years before in that very town. Then I hit SEND.
The very next afternoon, to my utter amazement, I had a reply. Even more astonishing this complete and utter stranger seemed to know of my story, in some detail. Apparently this person had been a neighbor and knew of the two children sent away. This could not be true, I thought. So I replied asking innocently for the names of the mother and the children. The response again arrived quickly, and with complete accuracy—and with an additional incredible surprise. It seemed that after we had left that town and nation, another sibling had been born, and still lived in the town. Would I want to correspond?
What could I say? Of course, I replied. Then the hesitancy began. Perhaps this person would not wish to write to a stranger, even one tied by blood. I understood completely, I wrote back. It was enough to know that I had bloodkin. But wait, my correspondent responded, let me see what is said.
A day later, as I pondered in some growing anguish, I had a new letter in my inbox, from my new younger sibling. From the very first words of the email, the sheer happiness and joy bounced from my screen. How delightful it was to know that the two sent away had lived happy and healthy lives, something apparently my birth-mother had prayed for her entire life until she only recently had passed away. Her fondest hope, this email continued, was that some day her family might be reunited in some way.
The universe is an amazing entity. My birth-mother must have had some powerful connections. Here we were, strangers related by blood in two different nations, speaking two different languages, and yet, we were bound together. We knew it in our hearts that we were family. From that first letter, the emails flew back and forth quickly. We learned things about each other's pasts and presents, exchanged photos, and remarked on how strange and wonderful life was.
My spouse and I had always discussed one day some day in a far off possible future taking a trip to at least visit the region of my birth. No plans had ever been made, since with children growing and higher education to settle on, whimsical journeys did not seem all that important. My new sibling had different ideas. As winter turned to spring and spring into summer and seasons changed, my sibling wrote that unquestionably we would all have to come and stay. Just choose dates and say when.
So it was that one day we had plane reservations and car rentals and wrote that we were arriving on such day. My sibling and family met us at the airport and we spent the next week meeting friends, neighbors, cousins and cousins and cousins. We were fed, entertained, hugged, told stories and more stories, hugged some more, and treated as if we had lived there all our lives. And I am told that we must return very soon and stay at least one month, because seven days is just not enough for family.
The universe of which I am a Citizen can be a remarkably incredible place.
True tale of my family discovery.