This one. She’s feeling shy lately. We had a talk about sharing her story, and she decided that she doesn’t want to share it for awhile…so I’m going with it. Don’t go thinking we forgot about her. She’s very here, quite loud and of course the best girl in the whole world. Henry is lucky to have such a sister and we, I can’t even describe how much we love this little gorgeous, insane, silly little nut.
If you have questions about being a foster adopt parent I am more than happy to answer them. It was one of the best things we ever did.
This morning as I sat on the edge of my bed, pulling on my socks, I noticed the black dress that I had packed for what I thought might be a funeral had fallen off it’s hanger and lay in a rumpled pile on the floor of the closet. I thought to myself, how grim it was that I had packed that on the eve of meeting my birth father and family for the first time. A little later in the morning, as I walked with my son Henry towards the steps of his preschool he said, in a voice so small and calm, “Mama, will I live forever?” and I bent over and touched his little face and told him, “No, if everyone lived forever then life wouldnt be important. That’s why we have to love our life and take care of ourselves and others always.” And a new sad look that I hadnt ever seen from him before washed over his face, then a little choked up, he said “But I just want to live forever. Can you please hold my hand so I dont get killed?” And he squeezed my hand tightly and I squeezed back.
As I drove away from him and towards the rest of my day, I thought of that night, two weeks ago, driving from Dayton to Cincinnati at 12 am, towards him, towards them…..this whole group of people who had thought of me most of my life and who I had just only discovered a few months ago. The flight to Ohio had seemed eternal, there were all these feelings that I couldnt quite verbalize, they were so rife with expired emotions, new ones and questions that even in my mind, I couldnt form one cohesive thought about. I had no idea how I felt other than scared. As the car pushed on through that early morning towards him, towards them, all of the time and space that had been between us my entire life was flying behind me so fast like shiny ribbon falling quickly off a spool and into another rumpled pile on the floor.
There are things I am thankful right now. That I didnt have to use that dress the first time I met him. That when I met my siblings that I loved them right away as a sister would and that they loved me back. I am thankful that I was able to talk to him so many times before he ended up in the hospital, that I felt like I was starting to know him, or even that I did feel like I already knew him all along. I am thankful that I can be present and be their big sister as they go through a difficult time starting with that phone call that I had to make to tell them, that their father, that our father had just died this afternoon. Thank you, Edward Hawkins for being my first father. Thank you, Edward Hawkins for my sisters and brothers. Thank you. I love you, and I always have.
The last time I saw my birth father I was nearly four. My dress, it was light pink and itchy, my white tights neatly tucked into some shiny black shoes I didnt remember seeing before. I walked down a long hallway, I remember the clicks of my heels as I approached a room. There in the middle of what seemed to be a wide open space sat my father. A box in his hand, and bandages on his face. Looking back I cant exactly recall why he was in the hospital but I knew that he would be okay. I remember his voice, his height, I remembered him. He handed me a box of Brach’s cinnamon discs when I left.
Growing up he was a mystery to me, I was raised by my adoptive father Mike. Every couple of months, I would be hit with this pang of sadness, that I didnt know where he was, that I didnt know if he was alive or worse, I didnt think that he remembered me or wanted me at all. When I was 13, my father Mike hired a private detective to try and find him, and we thought that we did. I called the number and my personal memory of the phone call was that he “didn’t want to talk to me” or that “he wasnt there” and just a click.
Heartbroken, I moved on and tried not to think about him very much at all. There were various adults from my past that would mention things about him, or that they ran into one of his relatives (in Ohio) and I would ask them for more information and they would brush me off or just refuse to share what they knew. It was frustrating how people thought that they were protecting me but really it just hurt. At one point, someone told me that it was likely that he wasnt alive anymore. I went with that. It was almost easier to detach.
After my mother died I really felt like some sort of biological orphan. Thinking that there were just two people in the world, my half sister and my son that were really truly related to me. And while I know that biology isnt everything (hello amazing Rylie), it was devastating. There wasnt a week that went by that I didnt rattle ideas around in my brain about if he was still alive, where was he but more importantly if he was alive, did he want to talk to me or was it just all together too painful?
I hired someone again to try and find out if I had any relatives on that side of the family just so I could even talk to someone about him, to see if I could learn anything about that side of my family. The agency was a total rip off but they did send me an email that was hilarious.
“We found your father. He is 35 years old and living in Ohio…”
Confused I wrote back a snappy email explaining that he would be an awfully young father to me and maybe they had the wrong person and they wrote back telling me that, he was in fact my brother and that my father was alive and he had another son who was three years younger than me too.
That was it. There was an address that I couldnt do much with. I just started searching the names of my brothers online over and over until I came up with a twitter account with the same name. When I went to the page, I clicked on the user picture and I swear my heart stopped when I saw my something so similar to my fathers face staring back at me. I sat there for several minutes just staring at this picture thinking that I just had to be insane. This could not possibly be my brother. So I tweeted at him. Hah. It sounds so ridiculous but I did. And I just sat there and waited and nothing happened. I looked at his account and saw that he wasnt really on it all that much. A day or so later I sent another one “Are you ever on twitter?” to which he replies, 2 days later kinda treating me like I am way sketchy, “Periodically….” I asked him to send me a direct message, he insists that he doesnt know how to. I look at my husband and say “he can spell periodically he has to know how to direct message!” He doesnt know how to direct message. I stare at the screen for about an hour and shuffle off to bed.
I wait. Then I figure out how to find him on facebook, he doesnt reply (I am sounding way insane I know) but Im 100% convinced at this point that he is my brother and its the first time in over 25 years that I have gotten this close to my father. I find name on his friends list that rings a bell, its my fathers sister and I remember the name perfectly. So I send her an email asking if she might know someone by my fathers name and introduce myself with my birth name (Nicky). Im dropping the kids off at school, I quickly look at my phone and very nearly pass the message, its Monday I have a million emails…
“is this you? We’ve been looking for you for YEARS!” I just about pass out. “Your father is alive.”
I cant even breathe.
After a quick and hilarious phone call my birth aunt gives me the phone number for my sister. Sister! I have two sisters AND two brothers. I call her and leave a message. All the while thinking, shes not going to call me back. She is not going to call me back. And she does. And the first few minutes are kinda awkward (I think that I say as much) and then, the brother that I tweeted at is there and he admits that he thought that I was a “webcam girl spammer” so he didnt want to reply to me. I say “what was I supposed to say? Hi I think that I am your sister?” He said “Well yeah.”
I finally ask if my father is there and they tell me that he is on the porch. I ask if it would be okay if I talk to him, or if he even wants to talk to me. They tell me that he has no idea that I am on the phone at all. He is oblivious. They tell me that they are just going to hand the phone to him and not tell him who it is.
“Hello? Hi, this is Nicky (me, Sara).”
“Hey Nicky! How you doin’ baby girl?” His voice, I know this voice. He is so casual I kind of think its weird.
“Um. Im kind of nervous.”
“Nicky? My daughter Nicky?” His voice changes and I just start crying.
“I didnt think that I would ever find you. I looked for you all my life, I never thought that I would find you.” Im just crying.
“Now dont start crying, you found me.” He starts crying. “I thought you were my grand daughter Nicky. I didnt know it was you.”
And we talk.
And he remembers that dress, those tights, that candy he handed me. He remembers the last time he saw me. He tells me that he couldnt find me. That he tried to find me.
I find out after the phone call that my brother named his daughter after me. I feel like the wind is knocked out of me. This explains why my father was so friendly when I first said my name.
And Ive told my sister and brother this week exactly this, that all of my life my heart, it was just a little bit broken. I mean, I was okay and loved and I was managing. But this tiny little part of me just hurt when I thought about my first father and that he didnt love me or that he wasnt alive and I could never ask him any questions. It just hurt. But now it doesnt. In fact, my heart (seriously guys this is so corny) its like huge now. I cant believe I have so much room in it for all of these new people, but I do. I cant get enough of them. Ive talked to my siblings every single day since 11/13/12 and I never want to stop. They are beautiful, they are so smart and super funny. I showed a picture of my niece to Henry and he said “Awwww look, its like a little lady Henry.” They look so much alike. I wake up in the middle of the night just startled, just remembering that I have them now. I think about how much I want to see them or when I will get to see them. I wake up in the morning and can barely wait to talk to them again. I feel sad in a way, ripped off that I didnt know them sooner but I know that everything happens for a reason and this was just the right time, that this is all perfectly how it is supposed to be even if its a little messy. And talking to them all is so easy and they have been just so kind. And they just are, there. And they are mine and I am theirs. And I love them and I havent even met them in person but I know them now. Forever.
And yes. I am going to teach my brother how to direct message. Its seriously about time. Get it together dude, seriously.
I can’t write much here that hasnt already been said. I thought in the spirit of Valentine’s Day I could share the love from the day we became a complete family.
Every time I think about this day, I cry.
Here is what I said at Rylie’s adoption in the courthouse:
Growing up I would always ask my dad to tell me the story about the day that he
met me. He would always say that the minute he saw me, he knew that I was
going to be his daughter forever. My father married my mother and had my little
sister. As I got older part me didnt understand how he could love me the
daughter he adopted as his own as much as my sister who was biologically his
own. I didnt understand it until I met Rylie. I walked into the home she was living
in, we locked eyes and she ran up to me and announced that she was ready to
go home with us. And I understood. She had so quickly planted herself in my
heart, the way maybe I planted myself in my fathers heart.
So Rylie my best little girl and Henry my best little boy I love you both forever
always and the same. Thank you for being my kids. And Thor, my favorite
husband that you for being you.
Rylie, I would have never been able to find you so quickly if it werent for Ryan,
a super awesome social worker who put up with a copious amount of
phone calls from me uh all the time, BreeAnne your guardian at litem who
worked so super hard to protect your little heart. And finally, the person who
called me that day, Keri and said “there is this little girl, I just know she’s
perfect for you.”
I promise to remember how my hands felt when I found out on the phone that you are almost ours. I promise to remember how hard it was to promise you that I would be your mama forever before I even knew because there wasnt any way that it couldnt actually be true. We love you Little R. Pinky swear.
Something happens to your heart when it is in the hands of others. When your future as a family is dependent often on people you have never met. Long story short we have to wait several more months to make her ours, even though by most accounts she is ours…I swear I stop breathing for a full minute when I think of the tiny chance she could be taken back even though the chance is so small. Its hard to trust the people that are “looking out” for her when they screw up so badly in just a simple way.
This could have been one of the worst weeks in a long time (a lot of other terrible stuff happened). Which the kids made better by nail parties and a birthday party where they decorated and art directed the cake (pink on the inside and purple on the outside) and a “shark magazine” which was R’s idea.
There is always next week.