Wednesday, August 19, 2015

My big WOW.

I have had a lot going on this past year - but this amazing piece of news takes the cake.

I have found the beginnings of my birth family.
It is my birth mother's birthday today - August 18th.

Where to begin...

I have know my birth name for years - I asked my mother while I was in labor with my first daughter, Virginia. She told me that my name was Phyllis Marie Serijack. However - that was 20+ years ago - and searching the internet was a whole different story back then. Plus - I didn't know at the time how my last name was spelled. All that my mother knew, and who knows if this was even so - was that my mother was a college student in Philadelphia when she had me. 
Dead end.
My adoptive parents Bruce and Ginny Nolin

While my adoptive mother was alive, I did not actively search for my birth mother. My Mom was amazing in so many ways, but one thing she did not have - was self confidence. I had absolutely NO desire to undermine her motherhood by doing a search for my birth mother. She was an amazing mom.
My only feeling of 'lack' within myself - was that I didn't look like anyone. No one in 'my' family looked alike - my brother Matt was also adopted - 2 years before me - from a completely different family.

Me and Matt
Very sadly - as you can read here my adoptive mom passed away in 2014. Ensue the grieving. 
She was my everything and it took all of this time to start to feel like me again.

Within the past 2 months, while searching for some important papers, I came across my adoption decree and it scared me. Not only was my birth name on the decree - but so was my birth mother's - Catherine M. Serijack. Known quantities are good right?
I kept it out - and would give it a sideways glance now and then, thinking I would 'do something' when my daughter was home in September. 
She ended up coming home a few weeks ago - and I showed her the decree. She immediately said - let's see what we can find. So we did. 

Sadly we found this - my birth mother

 and this - my two half siblings.
We found this information via Google on the Find a Grave website.
Not only was my birth mother dead, but so was my half brother (5 years younger) and my half sister (10 years younger). Wow - this sucks! Now it felt like I lost them all over again...ugh. I am still trying to wrap my head around this loss.
Thankfully, survivors were listed.
Theresa Mycoff was listed as a sister to my birth mother, Marian. Ginna immediately looked for her on Facebook - and found her! Sweet Jesus! I might be related to this woman. It is getting more and more real.  

My Aunt Terri

Then we found her daughter - my cousin, and her daughter on Facebook. Wow.
Dianna and her daughter

Me and my daughter

Ginna in Kindergarten

I think we could be related...

So then - what's next?
Well - we probably have done enough stalking for now.
The next morning, a Sunday, my dear, sweet, daughter has already Googled 'how to write a letter to someone you do not know'. She outlines some key points in a word doc and we work on crafting a sincere and convincing letter to this person - that may be my birth mother's sister. We send the letter off via a business email - we don't want to be too intrusive - just in case.
Within 20 minutes I receive this reply "You have indeed found more family. This is Terri's daughter Diana Adams. My mother would love to talk to you. Her number is xxx-xxx-xxxx".
And I burst into tears.

That day is already filled. I am taking my daughter up to York/Lancaster to catch the train back in to Philly. I ask if I can call Terri in the evening when I get back to York after dropping Ginna off at the train.
We talk for 2 hours and I think much of the time we both are in disbelief. Terri is the youngest of her family. Marian (my birth mother) was the oldest. When I was born, Marian was 21 and Terri was 2. Terri only found out about me when she was 18. By then, Marian was married and had the 'first' of her children, John. Catherine was born 4 years later.
Very sadly, in 1986, my half brother and sister, John Miller (age 21), Catherine Miller (age 17), and her husband-to-be James Carl (age 24), die in a house fire. Some how Marian and her husband managed get out of the house and survive the fire.
The thought gives one pause. I am my mother's only surviving child. And she knows nothing of me.
Marian dies 4 years later, on Nov. 26th at the young age of 52. Her death is attributed to a heart attack. Having lost a child myself, I suspect that it may have been a broken heart.
These new losses do not overshadow the fact that I now have more family. Family members that were excited and happy that I found them. How cool is that?! 
Unfortunately we have 800 miles that separate us. Thank goodness for the internet. Ginna and I are now friends with Terri and Diana on Facebook. We talk via Messenger, email, and phone.
And everytime I stop to think about my good fortune, a "WOW" bubble pops in my head, and I might have a happy cry.

SO - to my adoptive family - the family who has cradled me in their love for all of my 55 years - I love you. 
To all of my Aunts and Uncles - you have been second parents to me and my brother - scolded us when we needed it, and loved us like crazy all of the rest of the time. 
To my cousins - we were a tribe when we were young! 
You were my brothers and sisters - loving, scrapping, laughing, swimming, hide and seek, and capture the flag. You treated me and Matt no differently than the rest. I have seen most of you marry and have children, then your children marry and have children.
We have seen some of our parents die - as well as some of our siblings. A cousin who was adopted out as a baby - has found us - and we welcomed her and her children.
Please say hello to and welcome my birth family.
My family - the four of us - Dad, Mom, Matt and me (Lisa) were the smallest of the families - among both the Trulino's and the Nolin's. But this never dimmed the shine. My mother loved us fiercely, loved her family fiercely and taught Matt and I to do the same. We learned that family isn't about blood. Family is about LOVE.

One lucky girl, Liz


Mar gar et said...

Dear Liz,
This is a journey that is really amazing. Having followed your posts for a couple of years, I know about your past journeys, and realize that this wasn't an easy one to begin. May your new journey with your lovely family bring you joy, and many blessings! And, you look exactly like them!

Liz P. said...

Dear Margaret,
Many thanks for your good wishes! I have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of joy from friends and family on Facebook.
You are a dear to stop by and say hello!
love, Liz

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