“I need to tell you something,” she said with her head turned downward and a bit teary eyed.
I waited for some news that I had not heard before. But I’ve heard it all before.
“She had to give you away. If she had not, you would have died. She had to give you away” she sadly said as she shook her head, slowly.
It was like I was in this trance. I thought “this can’t be happening. I’m meeting her for the first time and this is what she tells me?”
Today I got to meet my biological aunt for the first time ever. I didn’t even know she existed. She first contacted me in September of 2015 and I was pleasantly surprised to hear from her. In my mind, I only had a dead mother and some siblings who wanted to get to know me, but they wanted it to happen on their terms.
My wife and I went apartment hunting and when she told me the town we were in, I immediately said “my aunt lives here”. At first we were not sure if we would visit. We didn’t have an address. All we had was the name of the town.
I decided to text her via Whatsapp but I didn’t expect her to respond since after November 2015, she had been MIA. The last time I spoke to her over the phone, she had said she wanted to meet me before she leaves this world. No pressure!
“What is your address?” I texted not expecting a reply. About two minutes later I noticed that below her name, she had gone from “last seen at 11:25am” to “online”. It made me excited that the status had changed but I had seen that happen before. But this time, it was different.
About three minutes later, my phone rang. It was a whatsapp call and I was surprised, nervous, and also scared. I hesitated when it came to clicking “answer”. But I did it. I clicked “answer call” when I saw that her name was displayed at the top.
We spoke for a bit and after a few minutes of speaking over whatsapp’s awkwardly-delayed reception, she gave me her address. I wanted to surprise her. I wanted to show up but I knew that I should probably let her know when I would show up so that I would not disrupt her day.
We put the address into Jenna (our lesbian google maps verbal direction lady), and she incorrectly led us to my aunt’s house. She was off by about 30 houses, but hey, you pick your battles.
We got to her house and I was so nervous. My arm pits were wet from sweat and I didn’t really know what to think. But I knew I had to do it. I wanted so much to be connected to my roots. And this was going to be a good way to start that connection.
I walked up to the door and rang the door bell. She opened the big red door from her side. She stood there, stunned. Me? I had no words.
She wrapped her arms around me and told me that I was so tall. She didn’t expect me to be tall. She couldn’t believe that she was actually talking to me. It was so surreal.
I didn’t think she was who she said she was. But indeed, she was, and I look very much like her. We embraced about 5 times before going up the stairs to her living room. I peeked out the front door before ascending the stairs and waved my wife over.
My aunt embraced my wife at the door and all three of us went upstairs to the living room. We sat down to talk and she shared a bunch of information that I was familiar with and some that I had never heard before.
One thing she shared was that she had been living in the US for 20 years and was a US citizen. She also shared that my mother was about four months from moving to the US when she suddenly died. Before she was able to immigrate, the US put an embargo which barred people from moving to the US for a period of time. She was so depressed and died soon after.
We talked about the time my sister showed up in the Dominican Republic with the expectation that I would embrace her without question. My aunt understood how I felt. She understood that I could not just pick up from where I left off, because I had nothing to pick up. And my a-family had left nothing for them.
She got it.
I lost it when we talked about my sister. She told me she felt that my sister thought I didn’t like her. But it was not like that. It is more complicated. And she got it. I cried….and tried to verbalize how I felt. She came over to the couch I was sitting on and hugged me.
My wife also embraced me, always supporting me no matter what.
There was an awkward moment in our conversation where my aunt talked about how lucky I was to have been adopted by the family that took me in. Immediately I was triggered. I told her that I was not lucky. But at the same time I understood where she was coming from.
You see, birth parents are told that if they give up their child, the child will be in better hands. This is part of the coercion and it is done in so many different ways.
Two sides of the triad get to drink the adoption koolaid but the third part, the most important part, does not even get a sip of it. The adoptees don’t get to choose to stay or go. We are helpless, we have no say. We are expected to adjust and to be happy. We are told to be thankful, we are brainwashed to think that the decision our birth parents made was out of love for us.
You see, birth families hope against all hope that their decision will better their biological child.
So I was not going to stay silent. I had been silent for so many years, I was not going to allow my aunt to tell me how I should feel about my situation. So I told her how I felt, and what I had gone through.
I expected her to to continue to try and convince me of how I should feel. But she didn’t. In fact, she cried. She was visibly upset to learn that the people her family had given me to were horrible people. She had zero desire to give them credit anymore. She was clearly surprised of all that happened to me as a child.
We continued to speak, laugh, and hug. We came away with so much and then we talked about when we would meet again. We also talked about God. We talked about how there is this stronger force that has kept me safe, and has empowered me to rise above the hate, anger and pain my adoptive parents put on me.
This made my day. Knowing that I didn’t have to explain myself to her, understanding that she had spent years looking for me, and hoping that our next meeting will continue to shed light and love on every aspect of our lives has made me whole…today.