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Teresa Brown

      Teresa Brown is a retired Paralegal, a reunited first mother, and the sister to an adoptee. She has been around adoption most of her life and is familiar with all sides of the adoption triad. She located her birth daughter when her daughter was 21, and several years later when Teresa's sister asked her to locate her birth family, she was able to do so as well. She believes that all birth family members have a right to discover their answers, regardless of the final outcome.

Listen to a Radio Interview on Adoption Issues with author Teresa Brown and her adopted sister

How I Found My Daughter and My Sister's Birth Family

      On February 10, 1986, I received a phone call that created a drastic change in my life. It was around 8 p.m. when the phone rang. Long-distance static crackled in the background, and then I heard the words that changed my future and resolved my past. A young woman's voice, sounding a bit hesitant said, "I love you," and then she hung up.

      A strange feeling came over me and I knew where I believed the call came from. How many long-distance calls could there be that were meant for a mother only to be followed by a hang-up?

      In the summer of 1964 I gave birth to a beautiful strawberry blonde baby girl that I named Gillian. I signed adoption papers shortly after my daughter was born, which was the single hardest act I have ever had to do in my entire lifetime. But it was either that or take my newborn to the streets to live. I had no home to take her to. But, because it was a private adoption arranged by my doctor I was lucky in that I saw the adoptive parents names on the papers I signed.

      During Gillian's first couple of years I sent her parents two letters through one of their relatives, letting them know about the circumstances of her birth and why I had to give her up. I wanted them to reassure her when the time came that she wasn't given up because she wasn't wanted. I never wanted her to feel rejected for any reason. My younger sister was adopted and I had been raised around an adopted sibling all my life. I knew all the questions that my sister always had about her natural mother. It was important that Gillian have her questions answered with the truth by her adoptive parents.

      When I moved to Utah I realized for the first time what the implications were as to the available resources to find out where my little girl was and what she had been named, because the doctor had told me she was adopted by Mormons. Even though I had given her up, she was never completely out of my mind. Her birthdays were the hardest to take, and not a single one passed that I didn't mourn for her and have her on my mind.

      I believed that the long-distance phone call came from the daughter I had given up for adoption, and that she was afraid to talk to me. For the first time I felt I could go forward and search for her. She was 21 years old and I no longer felt I would be an unwelcome interference in her life. So, a dear friend of mine and I went to the LDS Genealogical Library in Salt Lake City, took two volumes from the archives with the surname (all I could remember) I was after, and started the search. For no particular reason my friend opened her volume right in the middle, turned one page and there the family record was, staring us right in the face. We found out what name they had given Gillian and we had an old address as a starting point.

      I decided to write a letter to Gillian's adoptive parents at the address listed and hoped it would find it's way to them. I never thought time could drag so slowly as when I waited to hear back, and in actuality it wasn't long at all. In the meantime I asked a police officer friend of mine if he could get me a copy of Gillian's driver's license so I could see what she looked like. That first picture was so precious to me that I cannot begin to put into words how moved I was when I got it. Shortly after that I received a phone call from Gillian's father and we had a very long talk and I found him to be a wonderful and caring man. He also told me that had he known where to find me he would have contacted me for her when she wanted to know. He further told me that had he known how much I wanted to keep her when she was born that he would have helped me to do so. I was in tears when we finished talking and was very grateful that Gillian had such a wonderful father raising her. He is a man who loves his adopted daughter enough to have put her well-being above all else.

      Gillian's father forwarded my letter on to her and on Saturday, March 10th she called me. I don't know who was more frightened, she or I. She seemed shy, and full of questions all at the same time. All in all, it was a very wonderful and lengthy conversation. Over the first few years Gillian and I exchanged letters, pictures, and phone calls. In the beginning she once told me that you can't give away a baby like you do puppies but then she never brought it up again. But I believe that feeling festered in her for years because it seemed like we had a friendship for about 20 years with ups and downs but mostly a decent long-distance relationship. But it has literally gone south recently. Her bitterness from her perceived rejection has gradually boiled to the surface and when she has problems she admittedly takes them out on me and picks apart every little thing I say. And she's very aware she does it too, but admittedly can't seem to help herself. I've mostly noticed it since her adopted mother died a couple of years ago, which I'm sure she'd rather it had been me. And the sad part is that she's spilled her bitterness over on to her children who think I'm a terrible mother and vend so much anger and venom at me that I believe they also feel I've rejected them. They only met me once at a family reunion years ago when they were fairly young and everyone treated them really nice. I finally had enough anger directed at me from her and her kids when I tried so hard to be friends and welcoming. I had to tell my daughter not to contact me anymore and that I would delete any email she or her daughter sent to me and I blocked them from my Facebook page. I can't take all the negative anger directed at me when I have a fun loving relationship with the rest of my family that she could have been a part of. My other kids always wanted to know her as well but she never gave them the chance, even though she seemed glad to have met them at the reunion.

      I am just very grateful for whatever time I did have at being my daughter's friend. I look at my sister's situation and realize how lucky I truly was, even if it has ended badly after 20 some years. My sister was adopted at birth, and when, as adults, she asked me to help her find her birth mother, I was able to do so by sending a "searching for.." flyer to everyone in the city where her birth mother was from with her maiden name. One flyer ended up in a drawer and when the woman was on the phone with a radio station announcing her garage sale, she opened the drawer and mentioned the flyer over the radio. As a result of that, my sister's birth aunt was found as well as a half sister. The rest of the story is my sister's to tell and you can hear it in the radio interview on the link up above.

      Anyone embarking on a search for their birth family should know that very rarely is it the way you hope or expect it to be. There will be both positive and negative sides to it, but in the end, it will be "yours" and uniquely so. I will always encourage birth families to find their blood ties because no matter how it turns out, it will either open a new door or close an old one and allow the past to rest. My own involvement in the adoption triangle from all points-of-view has led me to an understanding I never had before. It's an understanding that I needed in my life and would never have found without closure on the whereabouts and well-being of the child I gave up for adoption. I'm grateful that I was blessed to find her, no matter the end result.

      There's one more thing that needs to be added. The phone call that started all of this? Gillian said that it was not her that made the call. Coincidence? I don't think so............. It was a wrong number. Miracles do still happen. At the time it was needed for both of us.


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