Tennessee

She's One in a Million

Through years of relentless searching, monies paid to attorneys, Search Angels, The State of Pennsylvania, prayers, tears and a debate in my head about whether I should march in to the adoption agency and grab the social workers file that has my birth sisters name in it or not...I'm resorting to pleading. I plead and beg of you to share this post in an effort to allow my birth sister to come to the Pennsylvania screening on January 26th.

There are only 12 million people for me to weed through in the state of Pennsylvania. I think it's safe to assume that my birth sister is African-American, so that whittles it down some. 11% of Pennsylvania's population is of African-American, which translates to roughly a million people (1,416,752 to be exact). Whether one million African-American people show up to the screening, or 5 people show up, know that I will be scanning the crowd looking for my birth sister in each of those faces. What will I be looking for exactly? I don't really know. An almost 30 year old woman with my same bright skin tone (DOB; January 19, 1984 - happy bday birth sis!)? A tall gal with an afro and an athletic build? A girl with a weave in a wheelchair or hearing aids like me? Maybe we look nothing alike. Maybe our eyes will lock instantly and we both will just know? My nervous energy mounts with every passing day as I begin to imagine that moment when we both feel an instant connection, both of us instinctively knowing each other and connecting on a level that only two birth-sisters, both adopted, can understand. This feeble hope of a sense of belonging is clearly a pipe dream. My imaginative description of how my birth sister and I meet is highly unlikely, but at this juncture - I don't have much else to cling to with regards to this faceless, nameless woman with whom I share so much. What's so wrong with dreaming?

Perhaps you can help spread the word about the screening in the hopes that it reaches her?! I'll be at

Swarthmore College on January 27th

. Come one, come one million, either way, my curiosity will be strong, and my heart open and ready.

Playing detective is kinda fun - - until I realize how many years of my life have been devoted to this unpaid, emotionally exhausting game. This 'game' I'm playing is similar to the never-ending card game, War. One minute I have a full stack of cards, the next minute I'm down to one card, and back and forth it goes. I'm prepared for my hopes to be dashed as she will likely not be at the showing, however I continue to dream.  I've worked myself up into a frenzy before, years of sleuthing and only a sliver of a chance of success - and through toil and tribulation, succeeded! Why not try again? After all, it's only my emotions that are being hung up in the balance - oh, and the rest of my adoptive family and my (and her) birth family who are curious about her, too.

Birth-Sis, if you're reading this - know that my sole motivation is to meet you and say 'hi.' I come with my arms wide open, and my heart and mind able to comprehend pain and loss. I've successfully tiptoed my way around this delicate exchange before - I have experience in the potential awkwardness of this moment. I promise to respect your wishes and will allow you to dictate the speed and pacing of our relationship. If you're reading this, know that I have cared about you since I first learned about you.

My new sister; NaNa

Ang and NaNa
Ang and NaNa

I have five sisters and two brothers in my immediate family with whom I have shared everything, toys, clothes, germs, love and more. I guess you'd say we had the typical sibling relationships for a large family.

I have always known that I had a birth sister who is three years older than me. The adoption documents my parents were given at the time of my adoption stated that "Angela has a three year old sister named Carolyn Johnson..." Over the years I have read those words hundreds of times, curious about this girl who shared my genes. As the years passed, and things around me changed, friends came and went, sports seasons flew by, presidents served their terms, high school graduation, college graduation, jobs and marriage, those written words forever stayed the same,

"Angela has a three year old sister named Carolyn Johnson, who lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee..."

"Angela has a three year old sister named Carolyn Johnson, who lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee..."

"Angela has a three year old sister named Carolyn Johnson, who lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee..."

I read these words over and over again, year after year, completely forgetting that she wouldn't be three years old anymore as each year passed, and as I changed each year, perhaps she did too. Perhaps she got married, and maybe her last name has changed...

Last July, I met my 6th sister, Carolyn, however she was not 3 years old, she was 29. And people weren't calling her "Carolyn," but instead, "Na-Na." Her last name was no longer Johnson, but rather, Young, and she has two beautiful daughters. The only remaining truth, was her residence in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that had not changed, but the words of how i knew my long lost sister had already been emblazoned in my head.

I wish I knew how she's spent her 29 years, I wish I knew how she got her nickname, I wish I was there the day her last name was changed. I wish I was there when she had her children, and became a mother. I missed out on 29 years, but am so thankful that I can now spend my Sunday evenings getting answers to those questions, during our weekly Skype date.

Though we do not share the same last name, and nor do we share the same worldview or culture, we do share the same genes and thus are bound by blood. Now that our worlds have collided we can begin to learn all about each other. I have learned how to pronounce "NaNa," (NAY-nay) and am beginning to feel more comfortable using her nickname (even though her proper name, Carolyn, seems more natural for me). I understand that our upbringing has been completely different, and that the cultural norms vary greatly for both of us. The meeting and befriending of my birth sisters has been a jumble of emotions, ranging from fear of the unknown (what will she look like? What will she sound like?) to excitement (can't believe that's her!). I've felt the emotional pangs of worry (will she want to get to know me?), and embarrassment (her southern accent is so thick! What is she saying? What does that word mean?) however I have no qualms about my emotions, as there is no script written for how these relationships succeed, so I'll presume our relationship is just where it should be, jumble of emotions and all.

Of the nearly 7 billion people who walk this Earth, there is only one whom I enjoy devoting my Sunday evenings to; my new sister, Na-Na (& her daughters).

Family
Family

The Search Is On...

I realize that my meeting my birth family in June is still fresh in my mind, and not enough time has passed to completly sort through all of my emotions. However I am ready to continue my search. I know that I have at least 5 siblings - not sure if they are half or full siblings, I am ready to find them! Please join me in thinking positive thoughts around this situation.  I am fairly confident, seeing as how we found my birthfather with only his first name. Here are some stats:

Timothy Johnson - 35 years old. Most likely lives in Chattanooga, TN

James Johnson - 32 years old. Most likely lives in Chattanooga, TN

Carolyn Johnson - 30 years old.  Most likely lives in Chattanooga, TN

Name unknown. Birthdate: January 19, 1984. Adopted and living with a family in Pennsylvania

Unknown Name/Age. Unsure of location.

 

Now, it's time to work. I have put my investigator hat on.

What I would say...

Ms. Deborah,

I'm hoping that somehow this letter makes it's way into your hands. There are some things I have always wanted to say to you:

I think the World of you.

I admire your ability to go through with an undesired preganancy, especially without any help, doctors, books or guidance. I am amazed by your courage and foresight in knowing that keeping your pregnancy  a secret was the best choice for yourself, and for me. I want to thank you for thinking ahead enough to find an adoption agency to place me in a home. I don't know as many people who are as selfeless as you who have the strength to carry a baby to term, walk in to the hospital alone and in labor, and walk out of the hospital alone and empty-handed. 

I wanted to apologize for showing up at your doorstep so unexpectedly last month, I can only imagine how completely overwhelmed  you must've felt.  I can imagine that my suprise visit opened up a very deep wound of intensely painful feelings, feelings that had been buried for 24 years. I never meant for you to have to retrieve the painful memories. I hope that you never felt ashamed for having given me up for adoption.  Your strength and courage to give me up  has provided me with more opporrtunities than you'll ever know. 

 Since I sought you out, I had the advantage of working through some of my feelings prior to the day that I showed up at your door in Tennessee. I cannot imagine what it must've felt like to be on the other side of the equation. I know that my raw emotions were overpowering when I looked at you for the first time. I'd venture to guess that your emotions were 10 times stronger than mine, I guess this may have been why you denied knowing who I was and asked me to leave. I understand.

Just wanted to let you know that I am doing fine. I am happily married, enjoying all that life throws my way. I live in Seattle, Washington and my home is open to you anytime - I'd love to get to know you more.  

Love,

Your birthdaughter

     -oh, and by the way, my name is Angela.