KIND. LOYAL. DEPENDABLE.
Like most NPE’s (Non-Parental Event) I came from a very dysfunctional family. I was sent to live with my maternal grandmother when I was five until I was 13. When I was 12, my grandmother told me that my father was not my real father. The man I thought was my dad had adopted me and my real dad’s name was Ernie. When I pushed her for a last name she clammed up. A short time later my mother took me back to her home to live with her and reunite me with my siblings. I asked my mom if it was true that I was adopted. She said that I was, but my dad was my real dad he just had to adopt me because they weren’t married when I was born. She denied that “Ernie” was my father.
Over the years I gave her several opportunities to fess up, but she was never forthcoming. It always stayed in the back of my mind—who was my dad. I was definitely too cuckoo in the nest. Although I do resemble my mom in looks, the similarities end there. I was always different compared to the rest of the family: in personality, tastes, interests, and in looks. This would be brought up to me anytime we gathered together. Comments would be made that I just never “fit”. My children even commented on this to me. They would ask, “Mom, why are you so different from your brothers and sisters?”
Fast forward fifty-plus years and my kids give me an Ancestry DNA test for Mother’s Day. The results are puzzling! Wait, where is my French ancestry? Where is the Native, Cree? It’s not showing up. I thought I was reading my results wrong or it just wasn’t a good quality test. About a year after my results, I received an Ancestry email from a young man pointing out that we shared a lot of DNA but he couldn’t figure out how we were related. I looked at his profile briefly and shrugged it off. I didn’t recognize any names, but I did see that we were from the same area of the country. He was persistent and kept contacting me. He said he had narrowed how we were connected to his grandfather and he was going to get the man to submit his DNA.
A few weeks later, I received another notice from him saying his grandfather’s results were ready and I should go and look at them. It was midnight December 18, 2019 when I saw the results. Ernie ******* is your father! I was shocked and I wasn’t shocked. I jumped back and yelled, “I knew it!” I went on to look at the family tree and saw that Ernie’s mother had died in the same little town I was born in. Slowly the name Ernie percolated through my brain and I remembered being told that my real biological father’s name was Ernie. My mom had always insisted that my adoptive dad was also my biological dad. I was very angry.
It turned out the young man, D, who kept insisting we figure out how we were related is my brother’s son. When he got back to me and asked how I was related to his grandfather I really did not know what to say. I told him to talk to his grandfather and that he probably shouldn’t talk to anyone else.
The next message I received through Ancestry came from a very bewildered Ernie. I let him know that I wasn’t intending on insinuating myself into anyone’s life but, I would like medical information. He was very gracious and just kept saying he couldn’t figure out how this had happened but that DNA didn’t lie. I asked him if he was from my town and did he know a woman named Maureen. He said, Yes, he was from there but he didn’t remember anybody named Maureen. I replied, that it was okay. The town was a hard-drinking and partying town, so an incident not being remembered didn’t surprise me.
Ernie got in touch with me the next day saying, “As I lay in bed last night I was thinking and, I kinda do remember a Maureen! Here is a picture of who I think it might be. Is this your mom? Yep, that was her alright.
I didn’t hear from him for a few days. The next email said, “Sorry, you didn’t hear from me for a while. I was busy with your birth announcement to your siblings! I was blown away. I had never experienced such acceptance from a family member in my life! In the next email, he requested I call him Dad and he began to fill me in on his life, my step-mom’s life, and all my siblings – four of them. After that, my three new brothers and my sister all contacted me and we started to get to know each other through emails, phone calls, and FaceTime.
The following July, my husband and I, my son and his wife and two children, and my daughter and her two children all met in Alberta Canada and we met our new family in person. It was a joyful time for all of us. My son and brother look so much alike they could be twins. It still amazes all of us how alike they are. They even sound alike and have similar gestures etc. My sister and my personalities are very, very alike. This is something my children and husband commented on within hours of meeting her. It has been three years now and I have been totally enfolded into the family, I even get included in the little family squabbles!
I have been widowed twice. The first time I asked my adoptive father to please come and help me and he said no. The second time, Ernie was in his car and on his way when even though Covid had closed the border. But he was coming and I didn’t even ask. He and my brother were coming because I was theirs and I needed them. That was so comforting to me. By finding my biological family I have found myself. The way I think, my attitudes, habits, gestures, all things that used to annoy the rest of my family and set me apart, now cause me to be included. I AM ACTUALLY LIKE SOMEONE NOW!
My Dad was a twenty-year Air Force veteran. My son is a twenty-year Air Force Veteran! Their fields of work are very similar. My son, daughter, and grandchildren are all very musical. My Dad plays the saxophone and clarinet, my brother has been in a Canadian band for many years and my sister is a music teacher. My son plays and loves hockey. My Dad loves hockey was a coach and talent scout for the sport. I have crooked little fingers. So do Dad and all his kids. So many idiosyncrasies that are the same. I could go on and on.
Being so accepted has gone a long way to heal my childhood full of rejection and abuse. My new family has all expressed so much sorrow at not knowing about me sooner.
I have an aunt through my adoptive father, who declared she is so relieved to not be carrying this secret any longer and she filled me in on the story. Both my adoptive father and my mother have passed. I am very grateful that someone was left to tell me the truth. My mom was dating my adoptive father and they broke up. He went looking for another woman that he wanted to be with instead of my mom. So mom started seeing other people and met my Ernie at a party and ……. Then my adoptive father shows back up and wants to get back together with my mom. She tells him she is pregnant with Ernie’s baby. The two of them decided to let the town think I am his baby and they would see what happens. When I was nine months old, they married and he adopted me. They decided to never tell Ernie that he had a daughter.
My father Ernie is a man of integrity and is very protective of his family. Taking care of them is very important to him, even though we are all now in our 50s and 60s. He was devastated that he was cut out of his child’s life and wasn’t told about me. I have seen the tears roll down his cheeks thinking about it. Last summer one of my brothers gave me a hug and said, I am so glad we got you back! Got me back! Not found me. In their hearts, I have always belonged to them even though they didn’t know about me. How wonderful is that?