Search­ing to un­der­stand

Friday - - Society -

Al­though I didn’t feel the ur­gent need I’d had when I was a teenager, I still wanted to find my birth par­ents. I was cu­ri­ous – I thought it would help me un­der­stand why they had given me away.

My mum was help­ing me in my search. I’d moved in with her af­ter my di­vorce and one day, in April 2012, she found a le­gal doc­u­ment with my birth mother’s name on it. It was a power of at­tor­ney doc­u­ment giv­ing my birth mother’s sis­ter the right to give me up for adop­tion.

I read it over and over, then I re­alised why it had been so dif­fi­cult to trace my birth mother. We only knew her maiden name and had been search­ing with that, but she had mar­ried and changed her name.

Her sis­ter had signed the doc­u­ment as a wit­ness, and there was an ad­dress for her on it. I stared, stunned. The ad­dress was only five min­utes’ drive away from where we lived.

I went straight there and didn’t think about any­thing un­til I was walk­ing up to the door. My nerves jan­gled as I rang the bell. I didn’t know who was go­ing to an­swer or what re­ac­tion I would get.

A woman opened the door. I peered at her, won­der­ing if she was my birth mother. She had the same skin colour as me and her face looked quite sim­i­lar to mine.

“Hi, I’m Amy,’’ I said, the words tum­bling out. “I’m look­ing for my birth mother.’’ The woman looked shocked – then grinned. “No way!’’ she cried. It turned out she was my aunt, my birth mother’s step-sis­ter.

“Come in,’’ she said, hug­ging me and bustling me through the door.

I had so many ques­tions and they all came out in a rush. “Can you tell me any­thing about my fam­ily?’’ I asked. “Where’s my birth mother? Why did she give me away?”

My aunt smiled. “I’m not close with your birth mother now, but I can give you her num­ber,’’ she said.

“When you were born it was a dif­fi­cult time – your mum couldn’t keep you,’’ my aunt con­tin­ued. “You look just like your half-sis­ter.’’

I was over­whelmed to meet some­body from my fam­ily. I sud­denly re­alised I was very close to meet­ing up with all the mem­bers of my fam­ily, and hear­ing that I looked like my half­sis­ter made me want to see her even more. I wanted the first con­ver­sa­tion be­tween my mother and me to be pri­vate, so I walked away with her tele­phone num­ber and de­cided to make the call out­side on the road. My hands trem­bled as I di­alled her num­ber.

“Hello?’’ came a voice at the end of the line.

“Hi, this is Amy. I was given your num­ber by your sis­ter,” I said. I’m the daugh­ter you gave away 23 years ago.’’

There was si­lence on the end of the phone.

“Amy? I don’t be­lieve it,’’ she said. I asked her how she was, where she lived, who my fa­ther was... “I’ll tell you ev­ery­thing in per­son,’’ she said, sound­ing happy. We ar­ranged to meet the next day.

I went home in a daze. It was sur­real. I had been search­ing for so long, and now I was about to meet my birth mother.

Mum was wor­ried. “Are you OK to meet her?’’ she asked, con­cerned.

I nod­ded. “I’ve come this far, I want to see her,’’ I said.

I was look­ing for­ward to meet­ing her and also find­ing out about my dad. I wanted to ask her why she gave me away.

The next day I was ner­vous but ex­cited ahead of the meet­ing, but com­ing face to face with her was amaz­ing.

She was with my three older brothers and one younger sis­ter, so I met them all. “This is crazy,’’ I said as I hugged each one of them.

Zak, the brother a year older than me, still looks like my twin. They lived less than an hour away from me – I couldn’t be­lieve that we were so close yet so far apart.

My half-sib­lings were pretty shocked to meet me – they hadn’t known about my ex­is­tence as no­body had told them about me – but once they got over the sur­prise, they were very wel­com­ing. We were all talk­ing and hug­ging, then I sat down to talk to my birth mother.

I thought there would be a bond there, some nat­u­ral con­nec­tion, but it was weird. She was a stranger, and it wasn’t as emo­tional as I had ex­pected. For some rea­son, we didn’t click and it

Grow­ing up, Amy was lav­ished with love by her adop­tive par­ents

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