LOYAL. DRIVEN. CONSISTENT.
I’m a late reunion adoptee. I was born in the state of Ohio in the late 50s to an unwed interracial couple that had just graduated from high school a year prior to my birth. Interracial relationships were taboo in that era in Columbus and were Illegal in some states in America. Therefore, without parental approval or support from either side, an adoption was arranged and carried out by a network of professionals that were also family friends, thus beginning what would become the 6 degrees of separation in my life.
I was the only child of my adoptive parents Coy & Nell Bynum. Dad, a caramel complicated black man, and Mom, a light complicated black woman, who had been married for 12 years. They suffered through a miscarriage, along with the inability to conceive more children prompted them to want to adopt. After contacting all the available services at the time, they received a call from a family friend who was a Doctor who had a patent, a young lady that was looking to place her biracial child for adoption. That phone call set the wheels into motion; the black professionals were a tight community in Columbus in those days. The Doctor of record was a family friend, the Attorney of record likewise, a family friend, so as I stated earlier, the 6 degrees of separation of my life started before I got here.
I’ve always known I was adopted. My mother sat me down as soon as I was old enough to understand what adoption meant around the age of 5 and explained the circumstances of my birth. She told me that my biological mother was a young white student and that my biological father was a young black student that played football.
Because of their ages and no support along with being biracial, although we wouldn’t discuss race until a few years later, they felt it would be best to give me to a family that would be better equipped to care for me. Looking back, that I knew from an early age that they adopted me and that I felt loved unconditionally made my childhood normal like anyone else that I knew.
My father was a small business owner of a used car lot and did pretty well for our family. He loved to hunt and fish, but his main passion was selling used cars. My mother was a stay-at-home mom in my early years. She was very involved with her origins and gave of her time to help others. It gave me a great foundation to build upon from my parents, lessons that I carry with me to this day, lessons that I have passed on to my children and continue to pass on to my grandchildren.
My father passed away from cancer in 1976 my mother also passed from cancer in 1999. As we were getting her final business in order, we had our 2nd talk about my adoption. That day my mother gave me the greatest gift of selflessness any adoptive mother could give her child, her blessing to look for my biological family if I so desired. She had the foresight to see that one day I might want/need to find information about who I am and where I came from. And the funny thing is she was right! It was great to have her blessing.
She went on to tell me there was a picture of my birthmother around somewhere and I would know it when I saw it because I look just like her. After she passed, we were cleaning out her house and I came across two pictures that could have been my birthmother. I put them up and continued to clean the house. A few weeks later I went and got the pictures, one was dated 1970 so I could eliminate it and I put the other one away.
In 2001 the seed my mother had planted 2 years earlier began to sprout. My curiosity had for the first time in my adult life about Who Am I and Where Did I Come From? Since I was born prior to 1964, the year Ohio sealed the adoption birth records, I could obtain my Original Birth Certificate with my birthmother’s name and birth date on it.
I gave my birthmother’s name and birth date to a friend of mine and he found her address and said “it’s a good address and she lives there now”. I found myself sitting in front of her building with my wife in the car. When the moment of truth came, all of my childhood fears came flooding back. What if she tells me I have to go? What if she tells me “I already gave you away once, what makes you think I want you back now?” The fear of rejection was real. I looked at my wife and told her I couldn’t do it and we drove away.
Once again my mother’s foresight came into play as in 2018 I saw the age of 60 on the horizon. I asked myself, if I ever was going to find out who I was and where I came from, when was I going to do it, age 60, 62, 65 when? It was now or never. I prayed to ask God to order my steps, sat down at the computer and typed: How do you find your biological family? I found The Adoption Network Cleveland; I emailed the Adult Adoptee Program Coordinator Traci Onders, and she became my search angel.
I forwarded Traci my original birth certificate (OBC) along with the information they had given me as a child. I also took an Ancestry DNA Test. In return, she helped prepare me for the journey I was about to undertake. Traci advised me to read books and articles on the topic, speak with other adoptees, and suggested videos to watch, along with sharing some of her experiences along her journey. Even with all of this, nothing could prepare me for the information she would give me in just a few short days.
About a week later, Traci reached out to me with some information. She was happy to inform me she was pretty sure she had located my birthmother, and that I had a half-brother and sister but that she was saddened to inform me that my birthmother had passed away in 2002. For all of my life I was an only child, so the moment Traci told me I had two siblings the earth stood still. I’m happy to report that I’m in reunion with my Brother and Sister and it’s completed a part of me I really didn’t realize was missing until I found them.
About a month into reunion with my maternal family, I received the results back from Ancestry DNA. There were matches on both sides of my bloodline. The closest match on the paternal side was a 2nd cousin. I reached out to the administrator of the account and got an immediate response. We scheduled a phone call for later that evening and had the first of a series of phone calls. Once again, I gave her the information they gave me as a child. She made a couple of phone calls, then called me back with who she thought my birth father was. Once again my birth father had passed away just 2 years prior to my search but yet again I had two half-sisters. The younger of my paternal sisters and I have done a DNA test to confirm our relationship. The results came back a 99.95% match for half-siblings.
So just like that, in 11 short weeks, I went from being an only child to being the oldest of 5 children. I have Siblings, Nieces & Nephews, Aunts, and Cousins. A life that was already full and rich with love, family, became even more enriched with the addition of a new family.
The culmination of my journey was at my 60th birthday party where all facets of my family were in attendance. My Original Family, My In-Laws, and My Maternal Family, along with My Paternal Family all to celebrate the one person they had in common… Me. It filled my heart with joy to see my entire history in one place to celebrate me.
One of the most disappointing parts of this journey was not getting to meet my birth parents, but I’m learning about them through stories and photos shared by my family. The best part of this journey was finding family and securing the closure that I was seeking. I now know who I am and where I came from. I’m at peace.
I had the fortune to turn my journey into an Award-Winning Documentary Film “From A Place of Love-My Adoption Journey” It is currently streaming on Apple TV, Google Play & VUDU. It will Begin streaming on Tubi on July 1st. It is also available for Digital Download & Collectors Item DVD on the film’s website: www.fromaplaceoflovefilm.com