4.3
January 9, 2020

Who Doesn’t have Daddy Issues? The Struggle of an Adult Adoptee. {Chapter 5}

*Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a series—lucky you. Head to the author’s profile to continue reading.

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Marianne Williamson once said that a miracle is merely a change in perspective. And I’ve had those kinds of miracles.

And sometimes, a miracle involves the sky opening up and dropping into your lap something beyond anything your mind ever dared to imagine. Something that never found its way onto a vision board because it couldn’t break the vision barrier.

I’m now beholding the second type of miracle. And in the process, I’m learning that miracles, just like the nine-course meal at my Italian wedding, require much digestion, no matter how delectable.

I am both savoring and digesting my miracle: the sudden appearance of my biological father in my life. He is not only real, but he’s fully invested in being a part of my life. He didn’t disappear, as I had feared after our initial message exchange on Ancestry.com. His response email to me, a casualty of cyberspace, just never landed in my inbox. And that three-day gap in contact forced me to meet my shadow: the part of me that believed that miracles—the big kind, anyway—were reserved for others.

But on the third day, he rose again. And I received a lengthy email, filling me in on pieces of my past: how he had migrated from Minnesota to Los Angeles, where his brother lived, in order to attend community college and avoid the Vietnam draft. Once there, he fell for a senior at Van Nuys High School named Cecilia—the mother of my sister and I.

Cecilia.

It feels strange to have a name attached to something that was only an abstraction for so long: a biological mother. A missing puzzle piece. And now, with a name, she’s humanized. And perhaps, later on, I will want to find out more, take her out of the toy box, and make her real. But for now, I’m too focused on reveling in Mark—the real name of my biological father. (Note: I called him J.D. in my last piece in order to protect his privacy. But Mark has agreed to be outed.)

I just never expected this other abstraction to become real. At best, I thought perhaps some third, or maybe second cousin might announce themselves in my Ancestry inbox over a period of time, months, or maybe years. I anticipated that the quest to acquire pieces of my past would be an evasive one.

The instant materialization of my biological father in flesh and blood was just not an idea I ever entertained. I don’t think I ever dared to hope for it. When I had the tarot reading from Leonora that propelled me into taking action to open the door to my past, the pessimist in me murmured, “At best you might meet him on his deathbed.” My pessimist suggested that the devas of time were prodding me into action because this fictitious father was ill or dying somewhere, and time was running out.

So I never expected a slim, radiant, silver-haired, ruddy-cheeked father named Mark to drop into my life the very day I got my DNA results. Nor did I anticipate that only one week after initiating a copious email exchange, I would be FaceTiming with him and his wife Alice, and spontaneously inviting them to California for my late December birthday. Even less did I anticipate that they would accept my invitation to come on such short notice, and during the holiday season.

But they did accept. So my birthday fantasy is about to come true. And I feel exhilarated. An amped-up version of the exhilaration that I’ve been feeling every morning the past two weeks as I checked my inbox to read Mark’s latest email to me. (I finally met my match in my zest for writing lengthy, revelatory emails.)

And now, in three short days, my biological father will come: this very undying, vibrant man called Mark.

In three days, my father will come from Minnesota to San Francisco.

To see me.

As I write this, I feel tears in my throat and a pang of deep sadness.

There’s too much to say about this. Or rather, too much to feel. Too many small wounds with flimsy scabs over them, proving that time is an insufficient healer.

“Why go there?” my mind asks. After all, who doesn’t have daddy issues?

Suffice it to say that for years, some part of me mourned the absence of a father, even while having a father. (My mom and dad adopted my sister and me at 11 months.) I walked on eggshells around my dad, even through the last years of his life. I didn’t realize, until he passed in 2017, that the little girl in me had still held out a shred of hope that he might just once see me before he passed. See me for the person I am, and not as the little girl who, for some inexplicable reason, triggered the red-flag, bull response in him. I spent a lot of time over many years trying to understand why, until I concluded that sometimes there are no whys. At least not rational ones.

But maybe one day the karma gods might be willing to explain it to me.

As I sit here on the L-shaped olive couch, peering out the window at two squirrels chomping on an unripe avocado, pulled from the enormous tree in the yard, I find myself holding hands with both joy and sadness. And some other emotion not previously in my repertoire. Something not yet identifiable. Something akin to wonder. Tinged with that stomach-in-the air sensation I feel during a take-off. Infused with the delight that washes over me at the scent of a rose still fragrant in winter. With hints of the terrifying thrill of free-falling, followed by the intense relief and disbelief of someone being there to catch you.

Is there one word to describe all of that? Perhaps it’s simply part and parcel of beholding a miracle. This unfamiliar emotion began percolating as my email correspondence with Mark gained rapid momentum, and as I began to take in the fact that this yet-to-be-known father is already invested enough to fly out to California to spend both Christmas and my birthday with me—the unintended product of a teen romance over 50 years ago.

A part of me is sorry that my sister will not be here for this epic reunion. She is out of the country at this time. Mark and Alice were willing to wait for her return. But the truth is, my heart wasn’t. For my mind had finally broken the vision barrier—and I dreamed of having them here for my birthday. For my re-birth.

I reflect on the day that Mark’s note arrived in my Ancestry.com inbox, the very day I sat down to initiate Project Marci Resurrection—the start of my collaboration with a job coach to help me get my life on track and navigate next steps toward creating Right Livelihood. I had rather jokingly dubbed it “Project Resurrection,” but it stuck. Because it also matched the great desire in me to rise from the emotional ashes and obstacles of the past few years, and start anew.

I just had no idea when I launched Project Resurrection that the universe, or Forces that Be would conspire right along with me. Nor did I realize that they had an even greater vision for my intended resurrection. My focus had been on my career path, on seeking a way out of the survival mode I’d found myself in for too many years. Yet it seems the universe was intent on birthing a new narrative for my life, by resurrecting in me a silenced part: the child in me who had wanted recognition by her father. And I only awoke to that when I read one of Mark’s emails a few mornings ago.

He wrote:

I feel remiss when I fail to respond to everything you touch on in your emails. That’s why our time together will offer us an opportunity to explore our sentiments, and detailed Q&A. You’ve already given me a big-screen view of your rich history, talents, individuality, knack for going against the grain, and perhaps the most compelling trait which offers the strongest gravitational pull—your humanity. It seems to be the engine that animates your behavior, defines the depth of your character. This, above all, is the glue that binds people, spawns trust and builds relationships.”

I burst into tears when I read that paragraph. Only in that moment did I realize that I’d just been given what my little girl had waited a lifetime to receive: recognition by a father.

In three days Mark will come. But the resurrection is already well underway.

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