Seeking out my birth mother was a mixed blessing
I’ve always known I was adopted. The fact was irrelevant to me as a boy. My parents were great, but I didn’t fit into the small Oregon coast town where I grew up. Not even close. It was a paper mill town, and I wasn’t meant to be a mill worker. I felt I had a different genetic makeup. I needed other things in my life.
Years later, my wife and I moved to Sacramento, the city where I was born. We sent a postcard to my natural grandparents’ address—just to say hello. My grandmother was thrilled to meet me, although she said my mother might not be ready for contact. I left an open invitation for her to call me.
Fast forward 15 years to 2000. I received a phone call one night from Fox Island, Wash. My grandmother had kept in touch with me, so I knew where my mother was living. I knew who the call was from. We talked for three hours. My birth mother was outgoing and accomplished at many of the things I’ve striven to perfect. We have a pretty close relationship now, and I’ve gotten to know her and her husband (not my biological father; she still hasn’t revealed his identity) very well. Since that call, we’ve been together many times.
Ironically, my birth mother got to see things my parents, who died more than 20 years ago, didn’t get to witness. She was present in the stadium when my band and I performed in front of 25,000 people. Turns out, art is in my blood through my mother—musicians and artists from 120 years back. My mother was a concert pianist and can still tear up the concertos. I look like my two brothers and quite a bit like my half-sister. I guess it goes without saying that you inherit some things from your biological parents.
Although I wanted to get to know her and vice versa, I didn’t need a “mother” anymore. I’d had one. She died seven days before I left for college. My dad died a few years later from cancer. Beyond that, I’ve always been independent.
A mom right now? No, don’t think so. She thinks I need her guidance after all these years. How do I let my mom know I don’t need job advice or that I know to send cards for Easter or …? You get my point. I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, and I did contact her first, but I guess I wasn’t prepared for what came next. In the end, though, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. The experience has given me the energy to be who I am.
One last thing: Our two children are both adopted. And they know my mom, too. They see the circle completed. If they wish to pursue what I have gotten through getting to know my birth mother, then maybe I have helped them. I can only hope their experience can be as full and productive as mine has been.
David Jayne is the RN&R’s art director.