The woman finds her birth mother after 35

“I was born in the year 1970. My father was 18 years old, and my mother was 15 years old. On the back of a motorcycle, I returned home from the hospital. That was the start of my life.

My father enlisted in the army, and we relocated to Kansas. We returned to Southern California when he was discharged from the Army. My parents split when I was four years old, and my middle sister was three. We chose to live in Central California with my father.

Courtesy of April Gates

I didn’t see my mother again until I was 35 years old.

My father remarried, but a 13-year-younger stepmother wasn’t a good alternative for a mother and made my life difficult.

Courtesy of April Gates

At 17, I moved out of my parents’ house the day after graduating from high school. My fraternal grandparents accepted me into their home. In my life, they were the one constant. They were the ONLY ones who noticed I was in love and told me so.

I grew raised in a tiny Central California farming community. I had many acquaintances and a few relatives that lived nearby. According to all accounts, I had a typical upbringing. My peers all seemed to have distinct families with a mother and a father, which I considered ‘normal.’ I always felt strange since I was the only young girl I knew who didn’t have a real mother there. I don’t think I allowed it to affect how I looked on the outside, and I can’t even tell how it affected how I felt on the inside until I was much older.

In 1990, I met a young man. In 1991, I married the love of my life. I’ve been married to him for 28 years and love him much more now than when we first met. We don’t have any children, but we do have a lot of pets.

Courtesy of April Gates

In 1996, I found my birth mother in Arizona with the help of a buddy who worked for the Sheriff’s department. I wrote a letter and sent it. I never received a response. Life went on as usual.

After my younger sister, four years my junior, read a post my biological mother had made on in 1999, I reconnected with her in 2009. We uncovered two half-siblings born after my parents split up. Her presence had a more significant impact on their lives than her absence had on mine.

My younger sister has no recollections of my birth mother or what life was like for us as children. (This is because my biological mother returned her to my father in exchange for a shotgun, $500 cash, and a tiny Toyota pickup truck.) My younger sister was six months old at the time.)

My middle sister was adamant about not seeing our birth mother. I respected her requests.

Attempting to reunite with my birth mother necessitated a background check and a journey to Arizona to locate her. A basic background check can reveal a lot of information. The first trip was a failure since we were unable to identify her. However, we had the brilliant idea of purchasing a burner phone and placing an ad in their local newspaper’s classified section.

We received a call from my maternal grandmother within a month. The search for your birth mother had finally begun. Then there was the second trip.

My maternal grandmother was dying of cancer on my second trip, and my birth mother and aunt were also living in the same little Arizona town. The background check revealed that they had a slew of run-ins with the law in the past. The fact that the two sisters lived close to their mother spoke a lot to me. My grandma, you see, had a large family. Quite a bit. They don’t all have the same father. And more than half of her children despised her because she had a horrible habit of abandoning them wherever and whenever she pleased.

It’s strange to see your birth mother for the first time in 35 years. There was, is, and could be so much optimism and anticipation for what was, is, and could be! She hugged us and cried at first. She appeared to be overjoyed at the prospect of reuniting. She had a horrible appearance.

Here’s the thing about my biological mother: She is a drug user. What were you expecting as a child of the 1970s who had a child at 15? I mean, it’s something I’ve always suspected. ‘April, why else would she have stayed away?’ I silently wished for something else, but the realistic part always responded, ‘April, why else would she have stayed away?’

Courtesy of April Gates

We talked for hours in a run-down diner. I voiced all the questions that had been burning inside me since I was a 4-year-old little girl, picking up the phone extension and pleading for a response in my tiny 4-year-old voice…only to be ignored. I was seated immediately across from her, asking her pointed questions that begged for answers, and she couldn’t forgive me.

Courtesy of April Gates

I had a couple of simple queries. She took them all in stride and responded to each one. On some days, she was protective and accusatory, while on others, she was devastated and shattered. I informed her that if she was looking for someone to pay for her lifestyle, I was not the right person for her. But if she was serious about reconnecting and building a relationship, I was all in. After I came home, I wrote to her a few times.

The sad reality of her existence was that she had a lousy childhood and carried on the family legacy into adulthood. She was shattered. She was no different, and she never made an effort to better her life or existence. As long as she had breath in her body, she continued to do drugs, live outside of society, and stay off the radar of the law. That body had had enough until one day, and the breath was no longer there.

She died as a lonely and outcast in my life and society.

My younger sister and I had had a falling out a year before this and hadn’t spoken since. After seeing a Facebook post on her aunt’s page, I learned of her death.

I texted my sister my heartfelt condolences since I knew she was and had been striving to find our mother, restore a relationship with her, and come to terms with who she was as a person and, more significantly, as a mother.

My heart ached for my sister. She has struggled with my mother’s absence her entire life. It has had an impact on every element of her life. Everyone: her friends, relatives, her husband and son, my father… She’s broken in the same way that my mother was. Since Christmas Day 2013, I haven’t spoken to my sister.

The most tragic aspect of it all is that my mother perpetuated the cycle of brokenness. No one could persuade her to clean herself up and rejoin us, not her grandchildren, friends, or family. She made her decision and stuck to it until the very end.

In the sense that I believed I should be feeling more than I was, I struggled with her passing. I didn’t shed a tear. I didn’t weep. I had doubts about myself. The bottom line was this: how do you grieve for someone you don’t know?

Do I have a sense of pity for myself? No. Do I sympathize with my nieces and nephews? No. I sympathize with her. I pity her because she missed out on some truly remarkable people: every one of us.

My entire life has been comforted by the idea that she was wounded and broken and didn’t want to impose that on her children, so she remained away. That’s what I tell myself because the thought of someone who grew me, carried me within for nine months, gave birth to me, and then didn’t want to raise me or watch me grow into the unique person I am today is too much handle.

‘I’ve heard that a mother’s love is unlike any other, but it’s not true. Mrs. Cleaver’s interpretation isn’t for everyone. Some of us have the crazy 70’s miniature girl version, stoned as hell, who got knocked up, married, had a baby at 15, and had no idea how to be a mother.

Is it possible that I am a victim? Do I feel sorry for myself? Did I allow it to affect my daily life? My responses are convoluted. No, I’m not a helpless victim. Yes, it makes me sad that I didn’t have a motherly figure in my life.

And as for the last question… I’m not sure how it’s influenced me. Because of how my mother was yesterday, I suppose you’d have to ask folks who know me what type of person I am now. But what I can say is that there is always room for love TODAY.

Despite the challenges of not having a biological mother, I’ve been fortunate to have some close substitute ‘moms’ in my life. When I needed a mother figure, they were caring and supportive. I consider their existence in my life to be a massive blessing for whatever reason they’re here. My pals and I have also formed excellent relationships.

You cannot select your family, but you can choose your friends. They are a blessing from God. They’ve kept me sane when I’ve felt like I’m drowning in life, grounded when I’ve lost my bearings, and supportive when my life legs have been shaky. It’s not often that I find myself adrift in the “I don’t have a mother” existence, thanks to an incredibly supportive and loving husband, fantastic friends, and substitute mother figures. But if I do, I know I’ll be surrounded by loved ones who will assist me find my way back.”

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