JOYFUL. INQUISITIVE. ADVENTUROUS.
On June 2, 1978 at the St Francis Hospital in Peoria, IL, I was born. Less than 30 days later, I was adopted by Russ and Norma Hudson. Russ was a farmer and worked at a major seed company at the local plant. Norma also worked on the farm and became an accomplished artist. I have 2 older brothers Scott and Chad who are the biological children of Russ and Norma. They too worked on the farm. My youngest memories are of playing on the family farm. Being the youngest I got to spend most of my days playing. I had a big mischievous imagination that often got me in a lot of trouble. At the age of 4, my mother bought me a Cabbage Patch book which told the story of a little girl being adopted by a family who lived on a farm. She explained that I was special like the little girl in the book and I was adopted too. I knew I was special and remember at an incredibly young age being proud I was adopted. I have always been loved and cared for by my family.
When I was 9, my father was promoted in the seed company and transferred to Pennsylvania. I instantly loved being here and currently reside in Elizabethtown, PA. I know it was harder for my brothers to leave the family farm and it will always be a special place for them. They were older, had more memories and strong ties to the extended family. I did not have as strong of a connection to the farm. For me Pennsylvania was new, exciting, and safe. I still was the same impossibly strong-willed child but in a new frontier. I tested my parent’s patience and pushed boundaries all the way up to and a little past high school graduation in 1996. My mother used her artistic skills to build an interior design client base at a prominent furniture store and eventually was able to start her own design business. I would work the summers with her learning how to do decorative paint techniques on walls. I eventually would come to work with her full time during my roaring 20’s. I was starting to spread my wings as a woman, never missing a phone call from a friend or the next big party. Life was so fun during this time.
When I was 25, I met the man I would marry, Todd Lovinger. He was different, just like me. We fit. Our daughter, Lia was born when I was 27, and our family was complete. For the first time I met a part of me, and I knew exactly where she came from. She looked like me. By 2008, we were married. We will be celebrating 15 years of marriage in 2021. I retired from painting and started working at AT&T and after 9 years I went from working customer service phones, to managing retail stores. My husband and I became avid gardeners and pursued a farm-to-table eating lifestyle. Life was so fulfilling during this time.
In 2015, my parents retired and moved to Ocala, FL. I was happy for them. The move was stressful; however, I was excited for them to be able to stop working so hard and be able to do whatever their little hearts desired, together. Shortly, the news came that would change absolutely everything, my father was informally diagnosed with a form of dementia and my mother was not equipped to be his primary caregiver. By the time he was formally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s my mother was still in denial she was ill-equipped to take care of him alone and would not reciprocate help being offered and hide behind lies and deflections. I even had to call Adult Social Services to advocate for my father’s unhealthy situation. His mental health declined rapidly into a man I did not recognize.
During this time, I had no choice but to leave my career I had worked so hard to create. It was the second major blow to my life. In hindsight, this is where my depression started to grab hold. I was losing my dad, who was the glue in our family to a horrendous disease. It was destroying my mother in the process and now I was in a ridiculous job that only gave me temporary flexibility. My brothers and I were finally able to get my mother to move back to Pennsylvania and get our father placed into a private nursing home. I thought things were going to get better, but they did not. By the time we finally got dad back home, he would have noticeably shorter moments of lucidity where you could catch tiny glimpses of him. I was losing him and losing my mother. Eventually, all trust was lost between my mother and us children and we became estranged. I was not mentally handling any of it well. The fangs of depression were deep to the point I was even planning on leaving my husband. Life was full of loss during this time.
The thought of losing me was unbearable to my husband and he got us help. He stopped hesitating and found us a counselor during the late summer of 2019. I knew we were in the right place when she told us her job was to work herself out of a job. Soon after starting counseling I found out that not only was my mother not being honest to her children about the last 4 years of her life, but she was also not completely honest with me about important things in my life and her own. I am now over 40 years old and questioning every story my mother has ever told me. Life was full of resentment and anger during this time.
Thankfully, I had my counselor to guide me through putting this all together and how to start to heal and be on the road to be able to forgive. She gave me the advice that started my search. I had a choice. I could go back and try to uncover every single lie my mother has ever told and find what the truth was. Which happened to be the very last thing my mother wanted me to do. I had to accept there would be more hurt, anger and pain choosing that path. Or, I had a choice to find forgiveness and healing in my own life. What were my personal truths? What are all the things I have lied to myself about. I could try to fix someone who did not want my help or fix myself. Most importantly I had a choice to fight against the growing resentment I was having toward my mother and remember all the good things she has done for me.
My counselor asked me a particularly important question: “What truth about you do you really want answered?” I answered with no hesitation, “Where did I come from?” “Who do I look like?” The puzzle pieces I have always wondered about. I always brushed it off when asked by curious people earlier in my life saying things like, “Naah, I probably won’t look, this is my family.” I was lying to myself for so many reasons. When I was finally honest, I admitted that I have felt different all my life and I want to know who I look like. I want to stop scanning the crowds for people I look like and finally know. I want to finally lay to rest the nagging feeling of not fitting in.
On July 27th, 2020, I sent in my Ancestry DNA kit. Eight weeks later I had my results. I logged onto my account, thinking “This is it! I’m going to get the answers I have always wanted to know.” I quickly glanced at my ethnicity to see if the story my mother told me was true. I was certainly not French. That laid that question to rest. After seeing my DNA matches, I immediately was feeling deflated and lost. I had no idea how to connect the dots. I only had cousin matches and did not have the knowledge of how to solve this puzzle. For a few days after getting results and staring at the ancestry app and not knowing what to do I googled “How to get help finding birth parents” and I found the Search Angel website.
On August 27th, I applied for a search angel and donated to the organization. The website explained it could be anywhere from 2 weeks to 4 months to have a search angel assigned to my case. I was disappointed but figured, I have waited this long, what’s another 4 months, right? Four days later I received an email from Monica Desjardins. She was willing to take my case. I responded right back. We started talking the same day and it was like we always knew each other. I found someone with the knowledge and even more determination to help me solve this puzzle. As of today, I have found the following:
- A friend who has donated her time and energy to solve the mystery of where I came from; Monica, we found out, is not only my new friend but a distant cousin;
- During Monica’s research, she enlisted the help of Alesia Weiss and Cathy, two more incredibly gifted volunteers who are on a mission to bring unknown connections together and activists for people like us;
- My birth mother;
- Tracie, my crazy, fun cousin who was pivotal in finding my birth mother; and
- An open relationship with my dear maternal Aunt Bonnie.
There is so much more we will find. They are hot on the trail of connecting me to my birth father. Life right now is filled with wonder, answers, new family, and the start to healing and forgiveness. My husband says it is unreal how quick Monica, Alesia, and Cathy have been in uncovering my truths and connections. Sometimes it feels like what they have already accomplished is not real. These three women have been the instrumental blessing I needed to answer this one fact about me I have always wanted complete. A fact many people take for granted.