We pulled up to a small house roughly 20 minutes away from the home I grew up in. I was following my parents in my own car. I listened to my favorite music the whole way there, trying to relax and let my mind focus on the road. There’s nothing I wanted more than a clear head. Still, my palms turned clammy and my heart started to race. I wished I had someone in the car with me to calm my nerves. The cigarettes I inhaled on the drive over didn’t cut it. I took a sip of Diet Coke and checked my reflection. I hope he likes me.
I looked up to see my parents walking across the front yard. A tall figure appeared in the front entry. I took a deep breath and got out of the car. The tall man was on the front porch now, arm extended to shake my dad’s hand. A giant warm smile spread across his face. He hugged my mom as I walked around my vehicle to his yard. “Excuse me,” I heard him say, “but I’ve been waiting to give that girl a hug for a long time.”
I walked quicker now. Something like a magnet seemed to draw me to him. I needed that hug. I heard him say, “Heyyy girl!” in a lighthearted way. Tears started to well in my eyes and then I was wrapped in his arms. I remember feeling how small I was, his big arms embracing me completely. “Wow,” I heard him say. My parents sniffled behind me.
He invited the three of us inside and I was finally able to just look at him and take in his features. My biological dad looked eerily similar to the way he looked in a dream I had as a child. He was tall with whispy strawberry blonde hair. His skin had a pink tint to it. He wore dark wash jeans that fit him well, with a light blue button down shirt and flip-flops. He carried himself upright and confident. He looked so cool, like he had just come in from the beach, effortlessly dressed to match the ocean.
His personality was in every detail of his home. There was handmade furniture, carved sea creatures and dragons, unique fox furs and replicas of exotic animals. Clean, pristine even, with the flair that only a “man cave” has. My parents and he exchanged pleasantries, the good to see yous and you look greats. We set up the camera my mom brought to take a group picture before they left. It’s super awkward looking, but meeting your biological parent after 19 years does that, I suppose.
After they left, we sat on the couch and had a moment of, “Where do we even begin?” He started by telling me how thankful he was to have heard from me. He recounted the story of talking to my parents on the phone, and his throat filled up with emotion. He’d been praying for that phone call my entire life. He told me about how he tried so hard to be respectful of our family and not pry and press for details during my childhood. He told me how thankful he was for my parents. He said he knew the day he met them that I would be safe and well taken care of. He reiterated how important it was for him to be comfortable with who they are. Even after two decades of space, he could see they made the best decision possible for me.
“Robyn, I just want you to know that I love you more than anything. I am your father. You are my flesh and blood. Giving you to Ken and Kristin for adoption was the hardest decision I’ve ever made, but it was the most important one, too.”
His Catholic upbringing took abortion off the table quickly, and that shook me to my bones. He showed me one of the first pictures taken of me after I was born. My birth mom is holding me, and his mother’s hands can be seen blessing me with holy water. He wanted me to have life, a future, and he knew I had the best chance with another family.
The words faith, hope and love helped him get through the 19 years we were apart. “Crazy,” I said, “because I have the word hope tattooed on my foot.” We looked down at our bare feet. Oddly enough, I recognized those feet of his. We both have bunions protruding from the bottom of our big toes. We laughed about that, what a random thing to share. But somehow those feet meant a lot. We started talking about genes and traits. “I see your mother in your face,” he told me, “but I can see me, too.”
He wanted so badly to explain why they did it. He wanted to answer the looming question that I had asked my birth mother just a day earlier. The time came for me to share my catalog of questions, and I watched his face while he read through them to himself. He smiled at the memories of the piece, and asked me about my fear of spiders, my dad’s and my bike accident, and every other memory he could identify. I was so relieved with the interest he took in learning about my childhood. I was over the moon to have this stranger love me so fiercely and want to learn about my history and where I saw myself going. He wanted to be there for me, and that’s exactly what I was prepared to let him do.
I pointed out the tattoos on his forearms that my dad had vaguely told me about once when I was in high school. One of those tattoos had been removed, the shadow of it still lingering in his skin. We talked about who he was when they got pregnant. We talked about God’s grace and healing.
It was dark outside by the time I left. My eyes were swollen and my heart was full. I was already looking forward to hearing more stories about where he came from, where he’d traveled and what he saw in his future. He’s a dreamer, a doer and a risk taker, like me.
In just two days I had met my birth mother and my biological father; two people I had thought about my whole life. I went back to college that weekend feeling like I knew myself a little better. During that 6 ½ hour drive back to school, I was completely overwhelmed with emotion and history. I was overcome by the realization that God had granted me my greatest wish.
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