Caroline Martin


I always knew I l was different, I would look at my baby pictures and see a small child with black ringlets, deep dark eyes, alone in a sea of siblings. None of my five sisters or lone brother looked much like me. I did resemble my mom; I knew I was hers, but where else did I belong? I would not find my truth until genetics threw away the curtain the year I turned 64. By then all the players were gone and I had made my peace with never knowing. By then, there would be no answered questions, no fond embraces, no face of my father to look into and see my reflection.

Mom divorced the man on my birth certificate when I was three. He left our life as she quickly moved on to her next husband. I saw pictures of him, his blue eyes, short stature, and light sandy hair. He was as fair as I was dark. He disappeared into the world first to Alaska, then Hawaii, and never looked back. No contact, no calls, no letters, no dad. How unfair, everyone gets a dad; but not me. The yearning would never leave me and I struggle even now to deal with this loss. Just now, an epiphany; I now know where I got my lifelong passion for fairness.

The irony here is that mom would end up with six marriages, literally I had many “dads” just not my own. Mom grew up with heavy rules and expectations. Her dad was a famous orthopedic surgeon and her mom left the raising of her kids to the maids. Mom would say she never felt love from her parents. When she was 17 she was forced to have an illegal abortion arranged by her dad and her brother who was in medical school. She never got over the loss and her life going forward would be to have the baby she lost. She had seven children by five different men, and several abortions. Of course I would wonder about my parentage.

When I was 27 I shared with mom that I had met someone who insisted I was of Middle East descent. I laughed as I shared the story. She took a deep breath and said that maybe he was right. She admitted to a brief affair with a man from Lebanon while married to her first husband. She never shared this story with anyone before, except I do remember her bringing up an ex-boyfriend who was so handsome and was her Omar Shariff (whoever he was). I never took mom seriously about this affair, she had never met a man she didn’t love and often married them. This was just another “mom story.”

I started my search in the early days of computer searches. I also obtained hospital records to determine exactly when I was due. Mom had been hospitalized for a threatened abortion when she was five months along with me. She said she slept with her “Omar Shariff” when she was home for her father’s funeral. The date was clear. Next, I did an early genetic sibling match with my older brother and sister. The probability that they were my full siblings was very unlikely.

I followed this up with My Heritage DNA and discovered I was 50% Mediterranean. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The last search was Ancestry DNA where I was linked to the family of the man she had mentioned. My heart leaped out of my chest. I finally had an answer that took 37 years to find. I missed meeting my biological dad by 1 year. I blamed myself for wasting all those years where I let my pride lead me into letting years go by without persisting in my search. I was as shocked at the results as I was that my mom was telling the truth. I had no one to meet, I had no one to answer the questions that burned in my mind. It was a double edge sword, I finally found my truth but there was no one to reflect with.

I have discovered I have four additional siblings though only one wants anything to do with me. I suspect they believe I am motivated to seek part of his wealth. I am not. However, I do struggle with the fact that I am the oldest of his five children whether he knew me or not, and therefore I am entitled equally through genetics alone. I struggle with the shame of them not wanting to meet me. I am the victim here and it is an incredible pain to be rejected by my new family. I know if the situation were reversed, I would accept them with an open heart. I learned an invaluable lesson; blood doesn’t always define family.

I have not met my new family in person. We did have plans 2 or 3 times but due to medical situations and COVID, they were put on hold. It has been three years since my confirmation and again, the years are piling up without meeting. Haven’t I been patient enough? Why has this test of faith been so difficult and persistent? When will the pain of loss get easier for me to carry?

These are the struggles that will always be with me. I have more life behind me than in front of me and I have to find a place of peace for what is. I am sure I will get there, I am a survivor after all and I am blessed to have family and friends who have loved me through this process. Everything is going to be alright, maybe not today, but perhaps tomorrow.