When I was young, my parents told me I was adopted, that they had waited a long time to get me, and had to save a significant amount of money to pay for adoption costs. A lot of people have asked how I reacted to knowing I was adopted, and I’ve told them I always felt a little special knowing that I came at a bit of sacrifice, cost, and surprise.
One of the funny legends regarding my arrival was that The Methodist Mission Home in San Antonio called my parents in Houston to tell them they had a little boy, so they stopped and purchased a blue and white gingham cowboy baby outfit, complete with miniature leather holster diaper pins, and hit the road. When they arrived, they were surprised to find out I was a girl. These people lived through The Great Depression, and did not waste things, so I wore the cowboy outfit home, holding my dad’s giant finger the whole ride.
As I got older, I had more questions. I wasn’t unhappy in my home, but I was constantly curious. What did my birth mother and father look like? What were their names? What kinds of exotic things were they doing now?
In 1994, I was the one surprised when my half-sister on my birth mom’s side came looking for me. Many questions were answered, and I loved getting to see photos of my birth mother, who had recently passed on. My birth sister verified the minimal information given to my parents about my birth father: he had dark, curly hair, a big family, and she knew his first name. On the intake form that the adoption agency used to get information about the birth parents’ background were a lot of interesting tidbits such as his siblings’ first names and ages, and the strange detail that his father worked for the city water department. I had used those first names to comb through yearbooks and phone books from their hometown for the last twenty years, hoping to find some commonalities. I kept these scrawlings in a folder, and every once in a while, I’d dig the folder out and research some more.
Last Sunday, I plugged in all of the first names, the name of the city, the “city water department” factoid, and the word obituary. Immediately, I found an obituary of a man who appeared to be my grandfather, incorporating all of the facts given by my birth mother. The ages and names all fit her description. Next, I searched for an obituary for my father, since I now knew his last name. When I found his obituary, it gave names of his children, so I looked for them on Facebook and found two names that fit. As gingerly as possible, I crafted a message asking if this man was their father, and told them that I had been given a description of my birth father, and he seemed to fit that description. After seeing my photo and hearing the details, I heard from one of his daughters, and she was skeptical. After seeing his photo and hearing the details, I was skeptical and have even more questions! At the risk of seeming like a total weirdo, I asked if she’d be willing to take a DNA test and share it with me, and she agreed.
Family members asked me, “So, how do you feel?” Just learning a last name was fulfilling to my long-held curiosity. The entire next day, my new paternal name bounced before me on vehicle after vehicle in traffic, as it is the same name of a large local auto sales company.
As I listened to XM6, a radio station playing music from the 1960s, one after another, the DJ played songs that reminded me of breakfasts with my adopted dad. He was a morning person, and as I heard movement in the kitchen, I’d pop up out of bed fully-charged. Dark brown liquid would be percolating, visible in the glass knob at the top of his coffee pot, and sausage and eggs would be cooking on the white enamelware stove with a dusty pink plastic radio playing music. Up, Up and Away by The Fifth Dimension takes me straight back to those mornings, and as it played in my Subaru on that day, tears came to my eyes as I remembered my adopted dad, and his intense, unconditional love for me.
Our scripture for this week focuses on Jesus’ final words, and as Norma Farthing shared during Sunday worship, we can infer that Jesus was planning for loving and lasting relationships that go beyond DNA. An unconditional, agape-kind of love is uniquely Christian. It doesn’t require, but requests. It is blind, yet all-seeing. It does not discourage, but encourages. It knows that love isn’t limited, but limitless. We all, as thinkers, might spend our whole lives with questions, but our good God will give us answers, wisdom, and opportunities.
Stick your little finger out and find the Father in this Holy Week. Let His gentle hand wrap around it, guiding you in peace and love. He bought a relationship with you at a great cost in a very surprising way.
Love is waiting there in my beautiful balloon
Way up in the air in my beautiful balloon
If you'll hold my hand we'll chase your dream across the sky
For we can fly we can fly
Up, up and away
Teresa Cornett's favorite question from others is "what do you think about ... ?!” so she loves to write when she gets a chance to mouth off.