I was blessed to be adopted at the age of five days old by two loving parents. I also want to give thanks to the young lady that chose to give me life.
That is the starting of my obituary that I have had written out for years and have put away with my pre-arrangements. Although, as you read the rest of my story, you'll see that my obituary has changed now. I knew I was special when my mother sat me down before I went to kindergarten. She said, “I just wanted to let you know that you did not come out of my stomach. Another young lady had you and could not take care of you, so she gave you to us so we could take care of you. That means you are special!” My mother was not always the most eloquent in how she chose her words, but on that day, she got an A+. Throughout my lifetime, I was never treated any different than my sister. I had always felt the same love from my Mom and Dad that she did.
Throughout childhood and going into young adulthood, I always felt blessed by the lady that chose to give me life. What a sacrifice she made to give me up to someone that could to take care of me! I knew God did create me and I did have a purpose in this world. However, I never had any desire to seek out my birth mother because I felt that I had such wonderful parents. I didn’t want to make them feel that they did not do a good enough job somehow At age 47 I went through one of the biggest trials in my life: a divorce. For me, it was worse than going through a death. You soon find out with difficult trials in your life that you're either going to pull God closer to you or push him away. I thankfully chose to pull him closer, and soon after, I felt God tugging on my heartstrings to defend his precious unborn children.
I even had the privilege of helping one young mother decide that she could continue with her pregnancy! During that time in my life that I was helping volunteer at a pregnancy resource center, I felt God telling me that the young lady who chose to give me life just needed to hear me say, “Thanks for your sacrifice. You did the right thing. I had wonderful parents and you didn't need to worry.” Within weeks, I called the state department of Illinois, putting in my name to contact my birth mother. After eight years, the laws had changed, and my case ended up in the hands of Emily, who worked with an agency that looks up birth mothers for free. She first found my birth mother and sent her a letter, followed up by a phone conversation. However, my birth mother didn’t feel she could make contact right then. I asked Emily if she had let her know I wanted to have contact to simply thank her for giving me life, for her sacrifice and that I had wonderful parents. Emily had done just that said that my birth mother was very grateful. I was glad that I had the chance to get that message to her. Emily then went on to find my birth father that had passed.
I was able to meet up with two half-sisters in Chicago where I had a couple of hours to try to catch up. I found out I carry some genes that lead me to be very organized. I have been blessed to stay in contact with one of them. They were able to look up my birth mother and let me know that she had recently lost her mother, her mother-in-law and her husband, all within 2 months’ time. That would explain why she was not ready to have contact with me when Emily reached out to her. A year later, I was surprised by a phone call from Emily saying my birth mother was ready to meet now. I made a trip to Wisconsin where her youngest son picked me up and we were able to talk for a few hours before I met her. What a glorious occasion just to wrap my arms around her and thank her! I was able to spend a couple of days talking about our lives. Within weeks after leaving, her son called to tell me that she had taken a turn for the worse, and had gone into assisted living. He told me that they had always thought there was something bothering her, but after I had met her, she seemed to finally be at ease.
The next year, I received the call that my birth- mother had passed away. I wanted to attend the funeral, but only if both sides of the family were at ease with that decision. My brother assured me that I was family, and even offered to pay, on behalf of our mother, for a luxury suite for my stay. He said, Steve its on Mom’s dime ,that’s the least she could do for you. I said, Brian* you don’t understand she had already done the most important thing for me . . . she gave me life! I am so grateful that I had time to meet her and thank her. I have half- brothers and a half-sister who have stayed in contact with me.
Three months after losing my birth mother, I lost my mother. She chose for years to show her love and care for me by protecting me the best she knew how, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! When my wife and I came in town for my mother’s funeral I showed her the Old Peoria Crittenton Home where I was born. I had ridden my bike by there several times which was only a mile or so from our house as a kid knowing that is where I was born. I guess it had never crossed my mind to go inside though. My parents would always tell me the story of my mother getting a call from Crittenton saying that they had a baby boy for them. My mother remembers giving my Dad a call at work to come home to get her to go in that very same day traveling in a foot of snow with chains on the tires to get me. Then I was left on my 7 yr. old sisters bed so when she came home from school “surprise”.
My wife and I then travelled down to Crittenton Centers’ new location. I had it on my heart to give a donation. 20 yrs. ago after my Dad passed I came across a receipt donation to The Peoria Crittenton Home for $250 for my adoption in 1959. It is my most prized possession. Then with everything in the last 2 yrs. unfolding regarding my birth-mother, it just felt like the right thing to do. A couple of days after the funeral of my mother my half-bro Bob* and Sam* came down from Wisconsin to pay respect and be with us. He asked if we could go by where his mother had me. He wanted to know that it was a nice place to make him comforted.
We took off and arrived there to find the doors locked. I had seen that there was a massage therapist that occupied one of the offices. I called the number and the therapist was there and said she would come down to open the door. She seated us all and said she would show us around after she was finished with one of her clients. She came back to get us and took us into her massage therapy room that was the birthing room when the Crittenton Home occupied the building. What an experience to be standing in the same room that I was born. My birth-mother was from the Green-Bay area and came down to Peoria to have her Great Aunt and Great Uncle that was a prominent pediatrician take care of her up until she gave birth to me at Peoria Crittenton Home. I am so blessed . . . my mother chose to give me life! Thank God there was the Peoria Crittenton Home for her! .
Live and Let Live --Steve
*Names changed for privacy