What I am about to share has been difficult to come to terms with this past week. In my heart, I already knew it, but having proof hurts just the same.
I have said several times that even though Gus (my bio father) is dead, our story isn’t over. It won’t be until heaven, because I’m always finding out new things — both good and bad. Additionally, God is opening up new opportunities all the time because of the story and people are being impacted by it.
The Bible says that everything hidden will be revealed and that tends to happen progressively. The “be sure your sins will find you out” thing in the Bible is super real. (Numbers 32:23) I am discovering things people counted on me never knowing. The truth is that nothing is hidden forever.
There are bio family members who have told me for decades that they did not know my father’s name or anything about him. I have contacted all of the family members to ask about him, and everyone always maintained they knew nothing. Some were nice about it, and some weren’t. When contacting a group of cousins within one family unit within the family, the three sisters claimed they had ZERO information about him. One of these cousins proverbially slammed the door in my face. “Don’t ever contact me again! And do not contact my sisters about this again either!!”
Well, if she didn’t know something, why was she so touchy? That response was revealing. The door slam spoke to me that SHE KNEW. I thought, “I don’t know WHAT you know, but you know SOMETHING, otherwise my questions wouldn’t have made you so angry.”
I have always said, if people can’t be questioned, they are QUESTIONABLE. Only people with something to hide bristle when they are asked for information, and sometimes they do more than bristle…they block you on social media.
I realized this particular cousin and other family members knew more than they were letting on, but I didn’t have absolute proof.
Specifically, until late last Monday night.
Over the months, I have been working my way through all of Gus’s personal effects right down to every scrap of paper, even those the size of a gum wrapper. I have boxes full of documents and slowly read through them all in my near-to-non-existent spare time. Last week, Larry (my husband) and I went through a few boxes. I was finishing up with a box on Monday night and found a folder of some of Gus’s important papers. On top was a small blue piece of paper and the writing on it was in red ink with his unmistakable handwriting.
It was my aunt’s name and phone number.
She is the mother of the door-slamming cousin who told me to never contact her or her sisters again.
Gus was trying to reach my aunt, or was in touch with her in some fashion.
I felt overwhelmed as I stared at the smoking gun of revelation that was now in my hand. I stumbled in the other room with it and began to explain to Larry what I had just found. I say stumbled because I literally felt the strength leave my body and my legs get weak as I held this piece of paper in my hand that was light as a feather yet one of the weighest things I’ve ever grasped.
The note I found corroborates what Gus told me last month, that he had indeed reached out to my family to try to find out more. He said he thought about me, and tried to find out where I was, but he faced “roadblocks.”
All this time that I was begging for information, someone did know something — just as my search team suspected.
I was elated last week to have proof that what Gus said was true — that he WAS reaching out and he WAS trying to locate me — that he DID care. And,at the same time, I was so disappointed to have proof that people in my family knew more and they kept it from me. (And it appears, from him as well.)
It was like the whole world conspired to keep us apart.
I know we won.
Love won out.
But still, it burns me that anyone had the gall to try to keep us apart.
It’s so inhumane.
This underscores to me all the more than it was critical that I brought Gus home with me as soon as I could. After all the obstacles that kept us apart, it was important to take advantage of what time remained that we could be together.
I know that Gus and I met in God’s timing. (People don’t hesitate to remind me of that whenever I lament something unjust like this that took place. I do believe we met in God’s timing and I am grateful — but it doesn’t excuse people’s bad behavior.)
I’m also not just looking for something to be angry about. (Although I don’t have to look far.)
It’s not even the lost years I’m exclusively focused on.
It’s the lies.
How can people do this and live with themselves?
I confronted one of the three sisters (my cousins) right away – within the hour. It was easy to pick who to reach out to. I chose the one of the three who, although she doesn’t have a warm and fuzzy relationship with me, will actually talk to me. All this time, these cousins have maintained that their mother had no idea who my father was nor anything about the circumstances of my birth. They backed their mom up 100%. I had a hard time believing their mother knew nothing, since she and my uncle were the ones who drove my mother to the maternity home and picked her up and brought her back to Richmond once she had me. Her oldest daughter admitted that she actually rode along with them in the car for both trips. I really do not believe they were totally in the dark. Did they actually drive from Richmond to Norfolk and back and never discuss any of the circumstances surrounding the situation? That is highly unlikely.
I texted my cousin the photo of the piece of paper with her mother’s name and phone number and said, “This was in Gus’s important papers, in his handwriting. I now have proof…my father was reaching out to the family. Specifically to YOUR mother. And your mother absolutely knew who he was…”
No matter what came out of anyone’s mouth next, no matter what the excuse, there is no acceptable reason why.
I will never understand it.
Never in a million years.
Their actions will never be okay or justified.
I received a few responses to my letter.
“My sister felt a responsibility to protect my mom…”
Ummmm….. from what? And how do you protect a DEAD WOMAN?!!
I’m so sick of hearing, “It was a different time back then.”
Ding! Ding! Ding! Time’s up on this excuse.
It’s a different time NOW.
And people are still choosing to do the wrong thing.
They are still doing the wrong thing, right now.
It is the wrong thing to tell a family member (or anyone) that you don’t know who their parent is, when you do. Or to refuse to tell them any tidbit of information you know that could help them identify them or understand more about the situation than they currently know.
I have been consistently told that they knew nothing but last week when confronted with the paper I found, the cousin I spoke to said: “I heard your father was a prominent man in the community, and that he was married.”
Okay….why didn’t she tell me that YEARS ago when I asked if she knew ANYTHING?!
(Gus was a prominent performer/teacher in the area, but not married, but that is irrelevent. I should have been told whatever was known.)
I brought up the point that strangers in Richmond have been more helpful than family. Twelve of these “strangers” who either helped me find Gus, or helped me take care of him once I found him have now become my family! (My “boots on the ground besties,” as I call them.) They are not my family by DNA but they are my FAMILY in Richmond, Virginia.
Don’t ask me to put myself in someone else’s shoes.
I’ve been wearing mine too long.
In this case they are irrelevant. It’s probably the only time shoes are irrelevant, but they are.
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?
He wouldn’t lie.
And neither will I.
Not for my husband or kids, or sister or ANYONE.
It’s amazing to me that even some CHRISTIANS do this with the excuse of protecting someone.
Evidently, they forgot a lake of fire exists.
They will lie for people who are in a grave.
They will fib in support of a pile of ashes.
They will deceive on behalf of a decaying corpse that is six feet under.
And for WHAT?
The crazy thing is, they really believe they are helping someone by doing this, and in some cases they actually believe what they are doing is Godly. It’s reprehensible.
So…what to do now?
I will not spend one moment on revenge. Life is way too short, and intimacy with God and the anointing too valuable to lose! God has way too many plans for me to get wrapped up in trying to retaliate.
I’m turning them over to Jesus.
The Jesus I know.
He isn’t the pale and anemic looking guy you see on the paintings in some churches.
He is kick-tail in every way, and He is God.
I have turned them over to the One I can trust with everything.
Do Your thing, Jesus.
Deanna, Every word in this post is so heartfelt and articulate. You speak words of truth and comfort for every adoptee who has faced such challenging and frustrating circumstances in their search for their own identity. You are truly a blessing and we are so inspired by the way you consistently point us to Jesus Christ. Thank you.
Thank you Beth. You are always so encouraging. I appreciate you so much and the feedback you give. Means a lot!
I cannot imagine how you feel. Just reading this makes me want to turn some tables over in the temple, like Jesus did. But you’re right. We give it to Jesus. He will work ALL THINGS together for (your) good. I can’t say it enough, thank you for sharing your journey!
I wanted to turn some tables over, too, Jill! It is so senseless to me that people keep these things secret. I love you and appreciate you much, my friend!
No wonder you were so upset this week. It makes me so mad that your mother wouldn’t tell you who your father was & her sister flat out lied to you. God bless Gus, he wanted to find you as bad as you wanted to find him. I am sorry I put in Gus’ birthday card that maybe your mother was afraid it might ruin Gus’ reputation. Her first concern should have been for you. What a selfish family they are.
It’s okay Marcia, I know everyone wonders why in the world she was so intent on keeping it a secret. Everyone including me tried to figure it out.
When my husband was looking for his biological mom, we asked so many people where we live if they knew her and no one seemed to know her but when we found her it was unbelievable at how many of those people she asked about over the years after finding/meeting her. When we told those people we found her and found out who his dad was it was amazing at how many owned up to knowing her. Talking about mad. The reason a lot did not want to own up to knowing her was in fear they may have been his dad. So we know how you feel.
I am so sad you went through this! I know you truly do understand how I feel.
I am sorry they covered up info and kept it from you. I applaud your decision to leave it with Jesus! You are an amazing friend.
Thank you, friend. I love you!
Deanna! Oh my goodness, no words could adequately express how much my heart hurts reading this!
Sometimes I think that “It’s God’s perfect timing” is an easy go-to response for a Christian that doesn’t (in cases like this) consider the heart-wrenching emptiness and agony that someone has battled with for years – all due to the intentional evil of people who SHOULD care.
People told me that my son coming back into my life after not knowing where he was – was God’s perfect timing. But if I had had a vote or a say – it would’ve been much sooner!
What’s coming to me as I type this, is that God’s love for you and Gus ultimately superseded the evil schemes of your family. And what they meant for harm has turned into a story that is causing the world to BELIEVE IN GOD! And families WILL be changed because of your courage to speak out these truths!
My prayer is that everyone who reads this beautiful, raw blog will feel their heart being pierced by the Holy Spirit, and that they will CHOOSE TRUTH and good over evil plots, lies and deceit!
Deanna – you are beautiful and you are dearly loved! You are brave and real! I thank God for you and I’m so honored to know you!
This is my prayer too, Julie…one of my many prayers, that one thing people will gain from the story is the necessity of telling the truth, and how secrets hurt people. I love you too and I an honored that you are my friend.
I am sorry that this happened. I just watched your spot on CBS and BAWLED my eyes out. What a beautiful outcome. I have few words but I was so happy for you and Gus.
Thank you for connecting and letting me know you watched the story on CBS. I appreciate your kind words so much! I hope to see you here again. 🙂 Much love
Your story reminded me of something I recently watched on YouTube. It was a rerun of an old Phil Donahue tv segment from 1979. It was about a young woman who had relinquished her child to adoption and had found her child and been reunited with him. Several in the audience commented that they didn’t think a mother should go looking for her child after giving him up for adoption. I loved the mother’s response to that. She said that why shouldn’t she look for her child? She was his mother and the one who gave birth to him and that she had a right to meet him. So many back then thought it was preferable for a mother who had lost a child to adoption to remain in the shadows and stay anonymous but this is not truthful. She was that child’s mother and she was determined to see truth win out.