My next task was to focus on the paternal side of the family. Of my siblings, I share both parents with only my brother John with whom we have not made successful contact. What about my birth father’s side of the family? From my birth certificate, he is Hispanic with Mexican roots. Unfortunately, his surname is quite common and I was overwhelmed before starting the process.
First step: post on adoption and genealogy websites. Received lots of responses but no connections. A number of months later I received an email asking lots of questions: who are you, when were you born, and what do you know about your father. I sent off a response saying I knew little about my birth father except his name and the first name of his mother (from my adoption file at Catholic Charities). The response was from Joe, my newest cousin! He told me he had lots of family information and shared the story of the walk of our great grandparents from Mexico to the small Texas town where a number of their descendants live today. Joe also sent me a picture of a painting of my great grandmother. This picture is now a very important part of my family search.
Joe suggested I try the Frio County Web Gen website. I was able to get church information as well as birth, deaths and marriages that took place in the church. This information filled in lots of blanks in my search. I also learned that another cousin was involved with the Frio County project. Joe also told me that my father had three children with another woman and he gave me names. I met Carmen and her family and they were very receptive of this stranger from the Midwest. She told me that our father was not a real presence in her life and she was raised by her mom. Our sister Amelia lives in Dallas and we called her and we promised to meet someday. Carmen also told me about our brother who died at an early age. Before I left Carmen gave me copies of two grainy pictures of our father. These are the only pictures she has and now they are the only ones that I have of my birth father. One of these photos is attached. Several years later I met Amelia. Just like Carmen she was very welcoming and we had a great time getting acquainted. I hope to see them again when we get to Texas.
It amazed me how this whole search had changed my way of thinking about family. While sharing childhoods is important–finding missing links are equally important.
About four years ago I met a nephew and he told us about the family members that live in the small Texas town that my great grandparents emigrated to many years ago. He suggested that my husband and I come to his mom’s house to meet the entire clan. This homecoming took place the same weekend that we met Amelia for the first time. It was amazing! This entire family was so cordial treating us as if they knew us for our entire lives. There were cousins, nephews and lots of distant relations. I was honored to meet my birth father’s sister in law, a lovely woman of 94. I was able to ask a few questions and she was very forthcoming and welcomed us with open arms.
No, this isn’t the end of the story. This is just the beginning of emails, FB posts, and visits with the new family members. This was my journey in a nutshell. Hope you enjoyed it. Next time more on current adoption issues but now you know I didn’t really come from the Cabbage Patch…