Christmas 1990

Not long before Christmas I wrote a letter to my son detailing who I was and how I’d come to give him up for adoption. I enclosed a faded color snapshot of his biological father and me dressed in our pastel evening finery at our senior prom. I tried to imagine what my son would think when he saw those two innocent smiles. Would he realize that he was in the photo too? Christmas was just a couple of weeks away, so I wrapped the letter around the photo and put the packet in a red envelope, hoping to pass it off as a Christmas card. If he doesn’t write me back in a couple of weeks, I thought, I’ll call him.

The mail fell in heaps through the slot in our front door during the week before Christmas. I’d hear our dog bark, and I’d race to the entry hall to contemplate the holiday envelopes strewn on the rug. Examining each hand-addressed envelope, I hoped for a return address from Arizona, but there was nothing. At the meetings I’d heard adoptees say that reuniting with a birthparent could make the adoptive parents feel abandoned or threatened. I told myself my son was just taking it slow out of consideration for his family, but even ten days later there was no response.

When I first received information about my son, I learned some basic details. I knew that he lived at home with his parents, that he had a sister, that he worked as an information operator for the phone company. The searcher had given me my son’s phone number and had pointed out that the line was separate from his parents’ line. As I began working up the nerve to call him, I wanted to find out if my son shared his phone line with his sister. One afternoon shortly after New Year’s, while my daughters were napping, I sat on my bedroom floor with the telephone in my lap. Since I had his sister’s name, I would call information to get her number and see if it was the same as his. I dialed information for Mesa, Arizona with my pencil at the ready. “Hello, this is Cory. May I help you?” said the operator. I gasped and slammed down the phone and lay on the cool oak floor of my bedroom. Was it possible that I had just spoken to my son?

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