Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Tale of My Two Mothers

As an adoptee I am unique because I have two mothers and two fathers. For me it is the desire to learn who I come from, what type of people am I genetically linked to? Were they patriots who defended our nation in the American Revolution? Did they fight in the Civil War? Where did they come from Europe, Africa, Asia, Central and/or South America, Canada or Australia? DNA testing can answer the later but to answer the former takes a lot of research, patience and help from very special individuals known as search angels.

How my Adoption Came to Be

My Momma, Nina and my birth mother, Barbara were both treated by the same Ob-Gyn and it was he who made the arrangements for my adoption. He called my parents the night I was born and told them that my birth mother wanted to put me up for adoption. He also told them that if they did want me, they could take me home the following day. Back in 1962, the adoption process didn't take very long like it does in today's world. The application for adoption was made in August 1962 and was finalized in early November 1962.

My Adoptive Momma
I am very lucky to have my Momma, Nina. She is my adoptive mother. She and Daddy brought me home from the hospital the day after I was born. My Momma had two miscarriages before she and Daddy adopted me in 1962. They had been told that their chances of ever having children was not good (those doctor's didn't know what they were talking about) so they choose to adopt. 
The picture above is my Momma, Nina Rueff taken while she was in high school about 1952.

Momma raised me, dried my tears, cheered me on. Momma made my clothes, my wedding dress, and my school uniforms. Momma kissed my hurts, nurtured me and raised me to be who I am today. She was my Brownie Leader and she was always there when my siblings and I got home from school. She taught me how to laugh, to love and to dream. Momma taught me to be kind, compassionate, and to treat others the way I would want to be treated.

For as long as I can remember I have known I was adopted. There is a long running joke that I was suppose to be an only child. However, my Momma and Daddy saw fit to give me four more siblings all of whom are their natural children. I told you those doctor's didn't know what they talking about, thankfully!

When I got married the first time, she stood there and told me, "You don't have to do this." When I got married the second time, she told me I was making a mistake. I should have listened to her about those first two marriages but hindsight is 20/20. When I married Tommy, Momma was my matron of honor. Never in my life did I feel that I was any different than my siblings who followed after my adoption. 

When I made the decision to find my birth mother Momma (and Daddy) were very supportive and even signed affidavits when I petitioned the Florida court in the county of my adoption to unseal my records for me. When I found my birth mother, they were the second phone call I made after my hubby! 

Momma and I have had our ups and downs, especially during my teenage years, what mother and daughter don't? Momma has a great sense of humor. She loves all of her children regardless of how God brought us into her life.

My Birth Mother

For more than thirty years I searched for my birth mother, Barbara. I searched because I had things that I needed to say and questions I wanted to ask. I finally found her living about an hour away from me in 2011. My birth mother gave me life. Something she didn't have to do but something I am incredibly grateful for. She is now in her 80's. She agreed to meet me and to give me a family medical history as well as a family history. I was relieved to hear this. She was polite and gracious but reserved.

I drove to her home and spoke with her for a few hours. She showed me pictures of my first great grandmother from her paternal line and pictures of my half siblings. I was amazed at how much my younger son looked like my older half brother. I didn't see any resemblance between my half siblings and me. I must take after my birth father's side of the family in the looks department.

It was during this first conversation that she informed me that half siblings knew about me and were not interested in meeting me. I am no longer sure what, if anything, that my birth mother told her other children about me finding her. 

I believe that for the first time a peace settled over both us. For her, it was that she made the right choice and she was relieved that I had indeed gone to a good home and that I had been loved by a wonderful family. For me it was the chance to say thank you and to let know she had made that yes, she made the right decision. It was then that I knew a big weight had been lifted from both of us. My only regret was that I never even thought to take a picture of her or of us. That opportunity is gone now because she passed away in November 2014.
She told me that if I wanted a relationship with her, that I would have to do all of the work. I thought I maybe I could do that. However, she made it very clear that I would have to be the one to do all the work if we were going to have a relationship. That isn't how relationships work, relationships have to be worked on together not just one person. 

As our conversation came to a close that evening I told her what I had been dying to tell her for all of those years. I told her how thankful I was that she did in fact choose my parents to adopt me. She didn't have many choices in the early 1960's and I wanted her to know that she had made the right decision. I told her that I had been given a good life with four more siblings, that I was blessed with two sons and a wonderful husband. 

Reasons to be grateful this Mother's Day

I have good reasons to be grateful this Mother's Day! My birth mother did what she had to do at the time of birth and I am grateful that. I am grateful that the doctor thought of my Momma and Daddy to adopt me. While I am not my Momma's biological child I am in fact the child of her heart. I love you Momma! I hope you have a great Mother's Day!

 The picture above is my Momma, Nina Rueff taken for her high school graduation about 1955 (personal collection)

Note: This was originally posted in May 2015 at my blog, Dawning Genealogy and has been updated since then.

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