Yesterday I missed a flight. It was the standard missed-connection story: an hour and a half scheduled lay-over in Detroit, preceded by an hour and a half mechanical delay on the initial outbound flight from Denver. So, I’m sure you can imagine me hoofing it very quickly through two terminals only to arrive at my departing gate a minute or two after the door had closed. I stood and watched my flight pull away from gate and hoped I’d be able to get to my destination on the same calendar day I had planned.
There are two ways one can act in that situation, get angry, or adopt an attitude that I was simply not meant to be on that flight. I chose the latter and started looking for that reason. Obviously, I wasn’t hoping for anything bad to happen to the flight – you hear those stories all the time – I wanted the people on the flight to be safely delivered to our destination. Believe it or not, I made several calls to family, friends, and clients telling them I’d be spending the next 7 hours in the Detroit airport, and that there must be a reason.
Sure, I got a bunch of work done. Then I read an email from a new friend talking about the search for my biological parents. I’m adopted.
I love my family, but I’m 37 and I finally hit a point that I want to know my genetic heritage. I made the first step about 3 months ago by sending away for my pre-adoption birth certificate. That document arrived the Friday before Mother’s Day – while my Adoptive Mom was visiting. I shared the document with her, concerned that she might be upset that I was looking for my birth parents. She was surprisingly (at least to me) calm and almost excited about telling me what she remembered from the process and said that she thought it was only natural to be interested in knowing that history. I was happy that my search was not going to upset her – honestly, the fear of upsetting her was part of the reason I’ve waited so long. I thought it might seem disrespectful to my Mom to search for my birth mother. I guess it never hurts to actually TALK with people – even if it’s your Mom.
As soon as I received the pre adoption birth certificate, my wife and I jumped on-line and started searching for Mary, my birth mother. $50 and one hour later we had a mailing address for the one woman in the country with the right name and birth date combination. We had a mailing address, but we could find no phone number. That Monday I mailed a letter to the address listed for Mary. No response.
Back to the Detroit Airport. I was thinking that I should have heard SOMETHING in the last month. So, I got online again and started a deeper search. My birth mother’s birth city was listed, so I started looking for people with Mary’s last name that might still be around that area to see if I could call one or more of them and get her phone number and confirm the address. That didn’t get me anywhere.
I happened upon a genealogy site that listed Mary (or at least A Mary) that looked like it had potential for more information. The page’s author listed his email, so I sent him a note. Amazingly, not only was the address live, he was online. In 15 minutes I had his record of her marriage (11 years after my birth) to a gentleman in California. His name is Dell. So, I typed in Dell’s name to www.whitepages.com and there he was – phone number and everything.
So I called.
A woman picked up the phone.
I said, “Hello. My name is Kevin Houchin, I’m an attorney in Fort Collins, CO. Is Dell available?”
She responded, “No sir, he’s not available, may I take a message or help you?”
“Sure, I’m calling to get the contact information for Mary…”
…heartbeat….heartbeat…heartbeat… pick up the phone….
“Mary, do you happen to remember receiving a letter from me at your residence sometime in the last few weeks? Again, my name is Kevin Houchin.”
“No Mr. Houchin, what address did you send it to?”
“The house on Mary Avenue” (that’s the real name of the street….)
“Oh, that’s an old address. The letter hasn’t arrived. Now, how may I help you?” she said in a very pleasant, actually helpful tone.
“Well, Mary, I’m actually a little unprepared to have this conversation unexpectedly like this, but I’m going to dive in and take the opportunity while I have you on the phone. You see, my birthday is August 23, 19XX.”
“The name on my pre-adoption birth certificate is Mary, and after some research, all roads lead to you being my birth mother.”
“Wow… this is wonderful.”
“I’m calling because I’d like to get to know you and give you an opportunity to become friends and know my family. I know it’s a lot to process, so even though I would love to talk to you for hours right now, I’ll give you a very brief update.
I’ve had a great life, and I’m blessed with a wonderful wife and three great kids. My son is 4, my daughter is 2, and my youngest son is 7 months old.
How about I get your email and send you more information about me than you ever thought you would know?”
“That would be great, here’s the email”
I dropped the phone a couple times, so it took a minute to confirm the email address…
“Again, I would love to talk to you more, but I want to give you time to process. I’ll send an email with all my contact information.”
“Thank you for giving me time to process. This is wonderful. I want to keep in touch.”
“Me to, thanks. It’s been great talking with you and I look forward to more. Have a great evening.”
At least that’s how I remember the first conversation with my birth mother. I’m sure it’s not accurate, but it’s as accurate as I’ll get it.
Then I started calling everyone. My wife first. Friends. Even the clients I’d talked to about missing the flight. I emailed. I ordered a drink. Then another. I wrote in my journal. I sent the email I promised. Then I remembered I had not given her my phone number during the conversation. I called her back.
“Mary, it’s Kevin again. I just called back to give you my phone number.”
“I just got it off your Web site, it’s 970-214-6808.”
“Right. I’ll leave you alone now. Call when you’re ready.”
I was overjoyed. She was engaging. I called my wife again. I caught my connecting flight.
When I logged into my email account after checking into the hotel at my destination, there was an email from Mary with a link to an online greeting card.
The card’s “card” content was that I was considered a blessing to be counted in her life. The message from Mary was: “Hi, I still can not believe I talked with you today. WOW!
Thank you for sending the letter. It made today more special and real.”
It also included her home and cell phone number.
It was a good day. I’m glad I missed that flight.