It was already late, but I couldn’t wait till the morning-I had to call my mom. Tonight I had a reply to her usual, “So what’s new?” beginning to our conversation. I got right to the point. She was so angry. She yelled at me. She cursed Charlotte for spilling the beans and ranted about how my father was going to turn over in his grave. She told me he didn’t want me to know; Charlotte told me he did-when the time was right. To some extent I could empathize with her reaction to all of this. But more than that, it really pissed me off that she completely missed the point and couldn’t see it my way at all. Her behavior was over the top. This was, after all, my story, my truth and being an adult woman I felt I was entitled to know this information about me. Through all this drama and angst I got how she felt, but she failed to even consider how I was feeling. She didn’t ask if I was okay after learning this shocking news. She didn’t even offer me any comfort. It was all about her. She hurtfully lashed out with her words and sensationalized how she imagined my dead father would have reacted had he been alive to hear this news. All of this really got me angry.
Over the weeks that followed I tried very delicately to broach the subject of my adoption to my mom. I was hopeful to get any bits of information I could about my biological parents and any little details that might fill in the very foggy picture I had of my mysterious past. She stubbornly pretended to not remember, and to make things worse, she tried to make me feel guilty for even wanting to know. In her mind, it was like I was dishonoring my dad’s memory to even want to learn details of the past. Because she didn’t want me to seek out my biological family, she painted a terrible picture of them, putting the worst light on my birth parents, making them out to be undesirables, drunks and crappy people. I talked to everyone from my past, relatives, old friends, and neighbors, hoping someone had a clue, a missing piece of information that would bust the whole thing open for me. I had no luck. It was at a dead end. I asked my mom one question that she did give me an answer to. I asked her what my name was before they adopted me. She told me it was Jane. Pure and simple, it was Jane. And the sound of it rang so pretty in my ears. I loved it. My name was Jane.
A whole decade had passed. I still had no real information. I found out at the beginning of 2011 the State of Illinois was opening up the adoption records in November. I was ecstatic! Finally, after all these years of waiting and dead ends and a lack of information I had a chance to finally come closer to learning about my past. I filled out the forms and had them in a stamped envelope clipped to my refrigerator waiting for the designated day to send it. In the meantime, my mom had gotten sick with heart disease and was very ill. She was scheduled to have a do or die open heart surgery on April 3rd. She was 81. At the beginning of March I checked my mail box and there it was… an envelope from the State of Illinois! I grabbed it and clutched it to my chest wildly anticipating that within seconds I would be holding my original birth certificate in my hands and I would finally learn the truth. For years this was the moment I had been waiting for! I couldn’t believe it. I ripped it open and unfolded the paper. This is what I saw:
There it was. Jane Clair Peace. What a lovely, artsy name. I couldn’t believe it was my name. And how wonderful it was to learn my last name was ‘Peace.’ Beautiful. I kept scanning over the words thinking I might have overlooked some little detail. And there she was-my birth mother… Diane Englund. My imagination was reeling. What kind of person was she? Do I look like her? Where is she now? Know I knew her name and suddenly all I could think about was finding her.