Apologies for the delay in posting recently - it’s been an exciting few weeks! You may remember from my very first post that I was adopted as a baby and that I found my birth mother in 2000.
Well, in early February I found my biological father! I had been searching for him on and off for years with no success, including on Ancestry (the DNA search website). I then happened to read that you could upload your DNA results to other search sites so I duly did (to MyHeritage) - not thinking for a moment that it would do any good but - bingo! A few days later I received an email telling me that there were not one but two 25% matches - a half sister and an aunt. Thanks to the wonders of Google I quickly found the father/brother link; my father. All this before 7.30 on a cold and drizzly Monday morning…
I spent a good few hours taking this all in and, with some (a lot!) trepidation, sent a quick email to the address I had found for my father, thinking that this would be the most appropriate route. No response so, a few days later I messaged my half sister, Jennifer. She didn’t see the message for several days but when she did she contacted me immediately. To say she was surprised is possibly the understatement of the year! She had absolutely no idea that there was an older sister but she was delighted - phew! I quickly heard from my other half sister who was equally amazed and equally happy. They told me that I also had a brother and that my father was still alive but, very sadly, in the later stages of Alzheimers and unable to communicate.
Another bucket list item ticked - flying on a double decker plane! Sadly they wouldn't let me try driving it...
Messages flew backwards and forwards from Portugal to California at all hours of the day and night in the following days and I discovered that I have relatives ranging from Alaska to Missouri, that I have dozens of cousins, nephews and nieces and that bunions run in the family!
My aunt and my cousin
With the unstinting encouragement of my partner I booked flights and was soon on my way to Los Angeles where I was met with flowers and lots of hugs and maybe a few tears. After a Denny’s breakfast - I love Denny’s diners! - they took me to meet Marvin, my father. I was able to talk to him and hold his hand and, although he didn’t know I was there or who I was, it was strangely comforting.
A family reunion
His wonderful wife, Mary, is a feisty 82 year old who loves him dearly and takes care of his every need. It’s clear to me that he was - is - a wonderful man and his family had many touching and funny stories to tell; in another twist he was also a horse lover and the tradition has continued - my niece and her husband breed and train quarter horses.
My sisters and I at a cattle cutting show.
It was a whirlwind visit but as well as a family party, a trip to the coast, a local horse show and an open mike night at the local biker bar my sister had another surprise for me - a visit to Las Vegas! It’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit so, after a five hour drive through the cold and sometimes snowy desert, we arrived in Sin City. To use an Americanism, it’s AWEsome! The hotels, the casinos, the Eiffel Tower rubbing shoulders with the Statue of Liberty, the shows - we went to see Cirque de Soleil, which was brilliant - and the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel were all I imagined and more. Our hotel, the Venetian Towers was massive - 14 check-in desks - with decor that anywhere else would have been ridiculously over the top but for Vegas was probably tastefully understated.
Am I in the Vatican?
Or New York?!
All too soon it was time to fly home but I am so happy to have completed the circle of my origins and I’m very much looking forward to giving my new family the same warm welcome when they come to visit me in Portugal. Don’t know if I can compete with Vegas and Disneyland though!!
If you’ve been adopted and would like to chat about your journey, or just to tell your story to someone who’s been through the same feelings and emotions please drop me a line.