My Adoption Search Story. a Pre- Internet Saga

This story is so on my mind today. I warn you this is a very very long story, It is personal and revealing but we are all about that here lol
  1. I am the oldest of four adopted children. I was adopted at birth. My mother always told me my birth parents were two Stanford professors who had an affair and I was the result--this was a grandiose lie, oh so characteristic of my sociopath mother but i didn't find that out til much much later
  2. When I was 14, my parents got divorced and my mother moved with her four adopted children to Aspen Colorado where she got pregnant by my Danish ski instructor.
    She had my baby sister--her first biological child and at that point lost interest completely in her four adopted kids. She actually moved out to a new house with her new baby and husband and left me in charge of the adopted kids. At 14. This is your basic recipe for a clinical psychologist later in life. Early responsibility for vulnerable others.
  3. I was fine. I survived. I grew up, got educated, got married, had a beautiful family. Separated from my toxic family of origin and decided to go back to school and get a PhD in psychology (for obvious reasons).
  4. Having incredibly wonderful children with strong personal identities at the same time that I was learning psychology fueled an insatiable urge to understand my own identity and origins Having beautiful children made me want to know more about my heritage. I decided I was finally ready to search for my adoptive mother.
  5. Remember that this is all taking place in the 90s before The internet was much of anything useful. I embarked on a long and arduous journey of hard-core archival research.
    I bribed an official in the California Bureau of vital statistics. Birth records are sealed at adoption. However they are also filed under the birth mother's maiden name. Having done my research I found someone who knew someone who wanted money who worked for the bureau.
  6. Eureka! I now had my mothers maiden name. It was an old German name. At this point I petitioned the state of California for my non-identifying information.
    Every adoptee in California is entitled to their non-identifying information from the state. This is kept for health reasons. When I got my non-identifying information I found out that my mother was 40 when I was born, that she was of German descent from Wisconsin, that she had eight sisters and one brother. I found out a lot of other interesting medical information that would be useful in my search most importantly I found out that I had a sister who was 14 years older than me.
  7. So now I had my non-identifying information from the state and my mother's maiden name and I got to work, again no Internet. Just old-fashioned searching mostly in the microfiche files of the bureau of vital statistics
  8. First, I checked the hospitals where I was born on the day I was born in Palm Springs California. I found out to my dismay that the microfiche Records were not kept until two years after my birth so that was a dead-end
  9. With dread, I searched the death records. I found a record for a woman with the same last name as my birth mother.
    I packed 6-year old @gabimoskowitz into my car and drove to the city of Oakland bureau vital statistics to see if this person could possibly be my mother. I was devastated to think she might've died before I could find her it was not my mother. Another bullet dodged.
  10. Finally, in desperation, I went through the voter rolls for the state of California looking for people with the same maiden name as my birth mother, desperately hoping hoping for a hit
    I found a man with the same last name living in orange county California. I called him and gave him a bullshit story about looking for relatives who were born in Wisconsin of Germanic descentwith the same last name he had. He listened patiently and told me he was so sorry but he was not my relative
  11. This man, however, proved to be key to the happy ending of the story
  12. He had a book, one of those vanity books, A genealogy book that listed all of the people with that last name. These books used to be very very popular before the age of the Internet. They would list many many people who had that same last name and their location. He offered to send it to me and I gladly took him up on it
  13. Paging through this book that must've had 300 people with the same last name I felt a sense of dread, and then all of a sudden one name emerged
    I was born in Palm Springs California. Here was a man with the same name as my birth mother who was also living in Palm Springs California
  14. I called this man and I gave him my usual bullshit story about looking for relatives by that name from Wisconsin. After speaking to him for five minutes I realized with a pounding heart that this was my uncle
    He told me he had eight sisters, he told me about the deaths of his parents and that matched my information from the state of California, he told me about growing up in Wisconsin. Now I had to figure out who my mother was, which one of the eight sisters without busting her and revealing her secret
  15. He suggested I speak to one of his sisters who had more information about the family, still believing my tale about looking for relatives. During the search I realized that people will tell you anything if you give a convincing enough backstory
  16. I spoke to the sister and unbelievably was able to figure it out. I knew which one it was. It was the sister who had a daughter 14 years older than me
    Using more deception, I got the phone number of my birth mother. This was it. I was going to violate her privacy. I was going to call her. I was beyond terrified. What would happen? Would she hate me for calling her? Would she tell me to go away and never bother her ever again? I was sick with anxiety
  17. Shaking and frightened, I called. No answer. For several days no answer, and then one night, she picked up the phone and said hello
    I was frozen in terror. I couldn't say a word. She softly said to me "its OK, you can speak, I'm listening." I hung up on her in complete agitation and fear
  18. The next day, I made @Larry stay home from work to support me while I made another phone call
  19. She answered the phone and I asked her if she was "Jane Doe". She answered that she was. I asked if I could speak to her, and she told me that I could
  20. I told her my name was Louise and she finished my sentence for me
    She said your name is Louise Packard and you were born January 30, 1955 and you are my daughter, oh darling I have been waiting and waiting for you to call!!!!
  21. We cried together for a long time. She was entirely welcoming of me. We had many meetings and much debriefing about her life and mine and what had happened and how it happened
  22. My birth mother is not my mother. My mother is the woman who raised me, however knowing my birth mother has enriched my life entirely and given me so much more context and understanding than I ever had before
  23. My birth mother is now 100 years old. She has a dementia but is otherwise healthy. My birth sister keeps me posted I haven't visited her for a while because I worry about stressing her out
  24. I am so lucky. So many adoptees from my generation never did find out anything about their origins
  25. If you stayed with me long enough to finish the story I thank you. Telling the story again has been much like the original search long, involved, and archaeologic, But oh so worth it.