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Monday, April 19, 2010

Sister Act: Adoption




Today is my dear sister's birthday. She is the apple of my eye, and the spring in my step. Our story is not the typical story of growing up together, pulling each other's hair, and trading off boyfriends. Ours is a story of separation, and reunion. It is filled with the immense joy of meeting long lost family, and the deep sadness of rectifying years apart. It's complexities are intense. Ultimately though, it's a love story.

I was adopted as an infant. I knew very little of my birth mother growing up, and nothing of my birthfather. I suspected my birth mom was Madonna for some time. How else could I explain our similar god awful fashion sense? I requested non-identifying information through the ministry as a teen, and received a letter saying there wasn't any. I then requested a proper search when I was 18, and 11 years later they responded to my request. I received a phone call with the news, there was no news. In fact the search department was being discontinued so it was more of a courtesy call than anything else. I was devastated.

Years earlier I had also registered on www.canadianadopteesregistry.org/. I always knew my birth mom's last name, due to my Mom "accidentally" seeing it on the forms. I registered my birth date, and birth family last name, and as the years passed I forgot about the website completely.

In September 2007, I received a message that the canadian adoptee registry was trying to contact me. I couldn't even remember who they were, and I assumed it was to simply update my information. I returned their call, hopeful none the less. I asked if they could leave me a message stating what this was about, as my curiosity was getting the better of me.I checked my messages at school later that day, and Alice told me I had a sister who was looking for me. I dropped the phone. Tears were spilling down my cheeks and I had goosebumps from head to toe. I had a sister. Oh my god, I had a sister. Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. It was the most shocking, beautiful moment of my life. I tried to phone Doug, but had no luck. I went to the bookstore, asked for all the quarters they had, and promptly phoned my mom. I don't recall a single thing I said. It was like my world was upside down, and spinning, and everywhere I looked things suddenly sparkled.

I went to class, told everyone who looked at me I had a sister, and then left early. I phoned Alice, and Cheryl and I set up a time to talk the next day. I couldn't wait however, so I e-mailed her that afternoon. We exchanged photo's and I'll never forget how stunning she was. When we spoke that night we were both nervous. What I remember most though was how easy the conversation flowed. There wasn't the awkward lulls I had worried about, and I felt very at ease with her. We talked for hours during the months that followed, and I discovered not only a sister, but a best friend.

We met in Jan of 2008, and it seemed incredible that she was very much this living, breathing, part of me. I fell in love with her and her daughters, and I can't even imagine sitting here today not having them in my life. Two and a half years later I still adore saying "my sister". The relationship between us is one I treasure most dearly. While there's no escaping the grief that comes from years apart, the years ahead of us are filled with love and celebration. I've always resented the line "You complete me", but in many ways she has completed me. It's as though someone said "here's that arm you were missing", and suddenly it's so glaringly obvious that of course, my arms been missing all this time! I'm very lucky, and if I could have designed my perfect sister, I can't imagine she'd be any different than Cheryl. Ok, that's a lie. If I could change a couple things she would also live in Vancouver, and be wealthy enough to buy me a small island. So if you could work on that my dear, that would be fantastic! No pressure though, just a small tropical island off the Caymans with a personal chef and cabana boy.

The best way to truly describe how close I feel to my sister, is a phone call I made last summer. After our adoption agency's bankruptcy I was destroyed. My mom being the angel she is came over right away and spent the following few days with me while Doug was at work. I was a mess. I recall very little except I bought a lot of shoes. When my mom left to catch the ferry on her last day, there was a half hour I was alone between her leaving and Doug arriving. Suddenly my home was deafeningly quiet, and my body hurt in ways I didn't know possible. It was excruciating. I couldn't stand it. I literally couldn't stand sitting with that much pain. The first person I thought to phone was Cheryl. She answered and I cried, and screamed. I don't recall a single thing I said or she said, other than she stayed on the phone with me until Doug came through the door. It's all rather foggy, but in the moment where all I was running on was pure survival instincts, my life line reached for her. It's a bond I am truly thankful for.

So, Happy Birthday to my extraordinary sister! I couldn't be more proud of you than I am, or more grateful to spend the rest of my life by your side. One day we'll be living together in an old age home, regressing back to childlike behaviours, pulling each others hair, and winking at the same toothless, bald old men playing canasta. Until then I hope you know no matter how many miles between us, my heart is always with you. I love you to the moon and back, Love, Your big sis xx

Updated:

As I was thinking of my sister this morning, I revisited the website she found me on. It stated Alice, the woman who ran the website and who handled our reunion passed away earlier this year. I'm rather emotional as I write this, and wish to remind everyone there truly are angels in this world. Thank you so much Alice. What you did for us and thousands of others is nothing short of a miracle. You changed my life. Heaven must be filled with joy to have another angel.

photo by Karen Lambrick Photography

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