Thursday, August 20, 2015

Chapter 5: Dead Ends and Buried Treasure

Dead Ends

It has been a while since I've been here.  When I originally began writing, my goal was simply to tell my story, come out of hiding, and give this new adopted identity of mine some fresh air and sunshine.  And if that's all I do, then I will have gained so much more than I ever imagined. By writing, I have connected with so many people on a similar journey to find healing in the search for who they are.  Some were even people I have known for years but never knew were also adoptees.

Then I discovered that people actually wanted to read my story as it unfolded. They were eager to read the next chapter.  And that made me happy too, because so much was happening... It was great to have so many people along for the ride.  I started to want a story worth telling, a story of lost and found... of separation and reunion. I wanted to write something that would make a great movie someday. I'm an actor, after all.

That is not, however, a story I can tell.  Not yet. I don't know if it ever will be.  Every scrap of information I find raises ten more questions, most unanswered.  And at times, mired in the details, I have often lost the thread of what I am even looking for.

What I crave most right now is a human connection to my origins.   The past three months has been nothing but documents and computer screens. I have still yet to find a flesh and blood relative or to speak to or anyone who knew my birth mother Judy.

But I am not giving up. Because, still, in the most unexpected places along the way, I find buried treasure.


Three weeks ago I took a trip to Cleveland.  I spent hours at the Public Library, searching the Plain Dealer microfiche for Judy's 2007 obituary.  There isn't one.  No one wrote an obituary after she died. I have no idea why. Her widow, a man who very likely does not know that I even exist, is nowhere to be found. I tried everything I could find. Phone numbers and emails are all dead. The house where they lived together was sold. I found the address of her childhood home, and where she lived later in Euclid, OH, but ran out of time before I could visit. Next time, perhaps I can try to talk to the neighbors.  Just like they do in the movies.

I did pay a visit to the address listed on my birth certificate, an apartment complex where she lived during her pregnancy.  According to the agency report, she was staying with a friend and babysitting that friend's kids. She didn't stay there long, because she felt she was putting a strain on her friend's marriage.  I walked around the building, expecting... what?  I honestly don't know.



The place felt sad and heavy to me.  I knew I would gain nothing from being there.  So I left to meet my friend Tom for dinner.. back to the land of the living.

I have since learned that Judy's death was an accident, that there was no funeral, and that no other children were listed in her death record.  I don't yet feel right writing more until I meet someone close to her.  Something in me feels the need for permission before I try to tell that story. Frankly, I have too many questions to even try to paint any kind of picture.  But learning what I have has brought a sadness to me and a deeper regret that I was not allowed to know her before she died.  It seems I am still grieving.

In the weeks after my Cleveland trip, I felt a depression creeping in. And again, I have done what I have learned to do:  Lean in, rather than away from, the amazing people in my life. I took a break from the search, from everything. Even talking about my adoption, I found, exhausted me. I saw some theatre. I had lots of dinners with friends. I took a trip to Michigan to perform in a storytelling fundraiser. I went to the beach.  I ran, did yoga, went to the gym. I took care of myself. I kept in touch with my Cleveland friends and helped a friend here get through a tough time. I got out of myself and into the world.

Back to the land of the living.

I feel better now and ready to move forward.

Buried Treasure

I said I did not yet want to share to much of Judy's story, but then I stumbled on something wonderful... something I know, beyond a doubt that she would have loved for me to see and share. 

In 2001, Judy created a website dedicated to owls.

That's right... owls.  She loved them.

In one of my record searches I found her email address.  It no longer functions, but entering it into a Google search brought me to a site with only some code I could not read.  Buried deep in that mess was the address to a website: Judy's World of Owls.  It does not appear to be technically live or supported. If you land on it, you need to navigate the side bar within seconds, otherwise  it disappears, replaced by an ad for a hosting site.  I am not sure how long it will stay visible.  

Try it.  You'll see:  http://myowls.tripod.com/

You can learn a lot about owls there, and her obvious passion for learning and teaching about them.

Most importantly, here is what I learned about her under the page titled "About Me"



Hi. My name is Judy. I decided to put up this page about me, because I anticipated that hundreds of people will write and ask about me. Although nobody has written yet, and no one has given me any hint that they want to know anything about me whatsoever, I will be prepared (smile).

Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, USA and still living in the area, I probably became interested in owls when at a very young age, I happened to come upon a baby owl that was trapped in my parents basement.
When I went down the steps one day, it was just sitting on a clothes line, its big eyes staring at me. It frightened me so much that I ran up the stairs screaming!

Long after I had calmed down and the owl had managed to escape, I started to wish the owl would return and be my friend. I would go to the basement each day and search for the friend I wanted, but the owl would never come back. He had gone back to where he had come, where he belonged.

Since those days I've always loved owls and have amassed a very large collection of owl things. Now thanks to the internet I can hope to share my owl collection and my thoughts with others around the globe.
I would like to hear any stories you have about these wonderful creatures. Send me your story or comments and I'll post them too. 


While almost all of the pictures are of owls, I found just one that also included a beautiful dark haired woman with a wistful smile and sad eyes.  On her shoulder is perched a saw whet owl. Nowhere does she write that this is indeed a picture of her, but when I saved the photo, I found the name she gave it was "me-bear."  I am so gun-shy, so hesitant to throw any hope or belief into this photo.  I doubt everything these days that does not come with concrete verified proof.  But honestly, who else would this be?

Those of you who know me can tell me if you see a resemblance.



So you see, I have to keep going.  I was pretty close to giving up before I stumbled upon this. 


Judy, I wish more people had found you and your owls fourteen years ago.  You had a love for something beautiful.  You shared it with the world, and that is more than most people ever do.  Wherever you are, I want you to know how glad I am that I found your owls.   
 
Judy, I hope you can see that I am doing well, that I turned out alright. You have given me something beautiful here.  I hope to keep meeting more of you through the stories, the photos, and hopefully the people I find along the way. I'm not giving up.

Judy,  I wish I could have flown back to you and been your friend.

Here, now, I am doing the best I can.

19 comments:

  1. A lovely tribute to your birth mother.

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  2. This is beautiful. My First Mother also left clues and it is so bitter-sweet. (((Hugs)))

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    1. Literally, before this, there was nothing but birth & death records, and old addresses. I have a great (non-identifying) report from Catholic Charities, but again it's all second and third hand info. Seeing something she created herself and getting a glimpse into who she was has been so amazing for me.

      Did you have a similar journey in finding your birth mom?

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  3. I don't know you but I see a resemblance. What an amazing find! Good luck with your search!

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    1. Most people agree! I think I too see it in the eyes. Thanks so much.

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  6. I wonder if there is some way you could continue to host her page. Instead of a loss it could be a legacy.
    What a beautiful woman. I hope you find more of her in your search.

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    1. Brenda,

      Thank you. I thought about doing that, but not sure how. I will look into it.

      Kevin

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  7. Your eyes and cheeks. Without a doubt. Thank you for sharing this powerful journey.

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  8. As an adoptee, I could related to your story on a very emotional level. I too have been involved in "the search". I found a half-sibling about 25 years ago and he has been a real blessing in my life Recently, the two of us had our DNA done by ancestry and "confirmed" what we already knew but couldn't prove. It has been so interesting to look at our ancestry. The hole in my heart is beginning to file. BTW, I went to your mother's owl site. I love owls as well. Getting to it was a challenge,
    but I was successful. It's a wonderful site. I saved the index to my favorites and have been able to access the site at will. I am passing it on to some other "friends of owls". I hope you find what you are searching for as I have.

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    1. Thanks so much. I'm really glad you were able to find someone. I will be writing about this in a future post, but I found a cousin of my birth mother's recently. She was adopted too, so she's not a blood relative, but it's someone who knew her, which is closer than I ever got.

      Also, an internet savvy friend pointed me to this web archive site. It allows you to see snapshots of the owl site without being booted off if you're inactive too long. Here it is: https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://myowls.tripod.com/

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  9. Kevin, my bmom had also already passed when a search angel found me in the birth index in 2006. The the real search negan, finding anything and everything I could, regarding her life. The first "ex" I called gave me one of the best gifts when he told me, "Lucy was all about her cats and her gardening". You see, those have always both been high on my list too, so I knew...we had something in common. My story is so much more, but that first bit of info will always stick with me. :) I wish you the best in finding those close to her.

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  10. Kevin, my bmom had also already passed when a search angel found me in the birth index in 2006. The the real search negan, finding anything and everything I could, regarding her life. The first "ex" I called gave me one of the best gifts when he told me, "Lucy was all about her cats and her gardening". You see, those have always both been high on my list too, so I knew...we had something in common. My story is so much more, but that first bit of info will always stick with me. :) I wish you the best in finding those close to her.

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