On a late August night back in 1999 I got a phone call that would forever change my life. My late father’s cousin Charlotte called me all the way from California with an urgent need to tell me something. I was really surprised to hear her voice on the other end of the line. We talked small talk for a minute or two and I wondered why she decided to call so unexpectedly. We usually didn’t call each other that much, but I was still glad to hear from her. All I remember is her saying there is something really important she has to tell me and she asked me if I was sitting. I told her no, but to go ahead anyway, whatever it was, I could handle it. Within seconds my heart started to pound with tension and fear not knowing what to expect out of her mouth.
“Well,” She said, “Your dad told me before he died I can tell you this if I felt there was a reason you needed to know.” She went on to explain how bad she felt when we had talked a little over a year prior, when I called to let her know my last son Jeff was born. Despite my happiness in my new baby, my heart was heavy as I expressed to her my disappointment in my mom. Specifically, my mom’s reaction when I initially told her I was pregnant with this now born, beautiful baby boy and her lack of interest in being a meaningful part of my other four children’s lives. I was bewildered as to why my mom was so crass and snippy with me when I revealed the news to her. All my life I knew she wasn’t a big fan of kids-because of that I dreaded telling her I was pregnant again, even though this one was well thought out and planned just like the previous four. And because I was apprehensive, I waited until I couldn’t keep it a secret any longer. When I finally made that dreaded phone call and happily announced I was five months pregnant, (again), my mom’s reaction was a stiff, “Oh, my GOD Emily! That’s DISGUSTING!” It brought me to tears and flooded me with anger. I couldn’t believe how harsh and unloving her response was.
Ever since I was a little kid my mom had a way of making me feel unloved in a variety of ways, be it a nasty look, a snarky tone or genuine intolerance of me. My father was my saving grace. From him I got unconditional love and a feeling that I was wanted no matter what and it was that love that was strong enough to counter balance my mom’s constant negativity. My dad’s love carried me into adulthood and helped me to become the stable, happy adult I am today. That conversation bothered Charlotte for months; so much so, that she felt compelled to call me and tell me the truth. And just like that, she blurted it out. “You were adopted, Emily. I thought it was time you knew.”