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Dear Friends and Family,

This is it: the last part of this origin story.

It’s been quite a journey (Here are parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.)

Here are the takeaways:

  1. Genetics are cool. Over the course of about two years, I have met more than 30 new people to whom I am blood related. Seeing myself in people other than the two I made is incredible. I see my eyes in my sister, my dimples in my brother, my laugh in my father, my inability to sit still in my mother, etc.
  2. Love isn’t like pie. More for some doesn’t mean less for others. I can love my adopted parents and extended family with my whole heart (and do) and also love my found family.
  3. Love is love is love. No boundaries. Some of the most wonderful messages I’ve received are from adopted cousins. Add to those messages all the heartfelt ones from friends and relations by marriage and new people tangential to the story, and you see that this has been a moving experience for more people than just myself.
  4. The human capacity for love, understanding and acceptance is astounding. Everyone in this story (except one**) has seemed to be so happy about this late-in-life connection. I have been amazed at how excited people seem to be to add me to the family. I’m still on my best behavior of course. I don’t want anyone to regret the welcome. 😉
  5. I am fortunate. Not every adoptee has a positive experience. And I have had it on both sides. One of my friends found her birth mother, and mom turned out to be … not a good person. Another friend found his, who said she didn’t want a relationship: “I gave you up for a reason.” Kathy is fond of saying that this could have been a Lifetime movie, but it turned out to be a Hallmark one.

Me: That’s why I was careful to explain in my letter that I’m a normal, stable person.

Alaina (my niece): That’s exactly what a crazy person would say.

Another takeaway? I can expel water from my face holes. (Thanks for the term, Heather!)

This kid had no idea what would happen in a few decades.

So many of you have contacted me with your own stories and messages of encouragement. Thank you. My goal in writing this series was twofold:

  1. It’s a great story. Come on: You have to give me that!
  2. I wanted to recognize and applaud all the people who opened their hearts to me.

If my story helps any other adoptees or adoptive families navigate these strange waters, then I will have done some good.

With any luck, they will get a message from a birth parent that’s as welcome and touching as this one:

Thanks for reading.

XO,
Beth

*Mission Impossible. Of course.

**I think that person just needs a little more time to process. I’m certainly not going to force it.

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Dear Friends and Family,

(You know the drill: Part 1, 2, 3 and 4.)

During my conversation with my father, he told me that he didn’t actually live at the address where I sent the letter. His ex-wife, Jan, still lives there with her son, my half-brother Brad. (They also have a daughter, Erin, my half sister.) Jan opened the letter, shared it with Brad, and he shared with David.

(After I asked Jan* about this part of the story, she said that when Brad called David, David talked about his crazy day. Brad said, “Dad, it’s about to get a whole lot crazier.”)

David now lives in Long Island in an apartment off my uncle’s house. (The apartment used to be my uncle’s dental office.)

Y’all. I mean. Can you IMAGINE Jan’s reaction? Brad’s? David’s?

I might have had to take some time to process, but David called me within 24 hours.

The call consisted of high-level catch-up, as you might expect. He seemed happy to know about me.

And Jan reached out to me on Facebook to welcome me to the family.

And Brad texted me to start a conversation.

How lovely is that?

David and I started talking regularly, and we decided we would meet when I visited New York for my annual birthday trip in December.

I flew into La Guardia and rented a car as the LIRR train schedule did not cooperate.

Brad: Have a good time! 
Me: Thanks. I'm on my way. Nervous.
Brad: So is he!

David was waiting on his porch when I pulled up. He said he felt like a kid at Christmas. I did too. (Add some flop sweat that Santa doesn’t usually get.)

He had a present for me:

I suddenly became very aware of my nasolacrimal ducts. Why? When I met Kathy, she gave me a present.

It was a gift David had given to her for her birthday when they were dating. She kept it all these years because it was the one thing that connected the three of us. And I had told him about it.

Oh Lord: There’s something in my eye. Hang on.

OK. Proceeding.

He took me to the main house to meet my Uncle Terry and Aunt Rosemary.

As it turns out, they and their family and David spent plenty of time in Savannah because they have a place in Hilton Head. Again, I could have run into them AT ANY POINT and not known about our connection.

Also, I would be staying the night in Uncle Terry and Aunt Rosemary’s house.

Y’ALL. These people JUST met me. I am a stranger. So this tells you a little something about how my existence was received.

The four of us went out to dinner and had a wonderful time. When we got back, David brought out a cake for my birthday.

I lost it (but tried not to).

He got me an ice cream cake (Carvel FTW!) without even KNOWING I am not a fan of regular cake.

It was … a lot. (I know I keep saying it, but cut me some slack. It IS a lot!)

The next day, we went on a drive to key places of interest for him and the family.

We laughed. We argued good naturedly. We got to know each other.

We went to the Long Island Aquarium.

As we were watching the sea lion show, I thought about how completely bizarre it was to be there with him. This is the kind of things dads do with their daughters when daughters are children. But here we were, making up for lost time.

Oh look: My lacrimal sac is acting up again. One moment.

I’m back.

It was bone-chillingly cold. My father doesn’t have any body fat (one area where I did NOT get his genes), so we didn’t linger at the lions.

We went back to his place to continue chatting. Before long, it was time for me to head into the city for the rest of the birthday trip.

I had plenty of thoughts to keep me occupied on the drive, along with a debrief phone call from a blogger friend.

I TOLD YOU it was a wild ride.

Just a little bit more to go if you want to join me. The final part is coming soon.

XO,
Beth

* Yes, I talk to Jan. Another weird and wonderful part of the story.

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Dear Friends and Family,

Buckle up: Mr. Toad has nothing on Auntie Beth’s wild ride.

(Here’s Part 1, 2 and 3 to get you up to speed.)

The next logical step was to contact my birth father.

Folks, this was easier said than done.

Not that he was hard to find. As soon as I had his name, I put my reporter experience to work and tracked down his address.

It was more that I wasn’t sure how to make this connection. The problem? He didn’t know about me. At all.

For a variety of reasons (including the fact that they had broken up), Kathy didn’t tell him she was pregnant.

So.

Do I call him? Show up at his house? Contact another relative I found (à la Cousin Laura for Kathy)? Eeesh.

I decided to go with the snail-mail route. It had worked before, so maybe it would work again.

But how do I start THAT letter?

Y’all, I’m a writer, but that was THE HARDEST LETTER to write. How do you announce your existence to someone who helped make you? That’s a big deal.

Kathy was worried about me and my plan. She told me she wasn’t sure how he would react.

Yeah.

For TWO FULL YEARS, I agonized over what to say, how to write that damn letter.

My friend Tyler (who cuts my hair) told me, “Don’t come back unless you have an update.” She was kidding. I think.

That was in March 2022. I pulled myself together.

The good stationery and penmanship came out again.

I chose the “rip off the Band-Aid” method:

I've wanted to write this letter for a while, but I didn't know exactly what to say or how to begin. I'm still not sure this is the right way, but I have to start somewhere. 

You don't know me or know about me, but I'm your daughter.

I planned for it to arrive by Father’s Day. 😬😉 The tracking indicated it took FOUR DAYS to leave the St. Louis post office. I was dying.

Then on June 23, 2022, I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize. It showed up as Columbia, MD, but I didn’t have my glasses on. I thought it said, “Columbia, MO,” so I assumed it was a work call. I answered.

“This is Beth.”
“Hi Beth, this is David.”

My people, I cannot express just how many emotions were vying for the top spot: happiness, surprise, nervousness, etc.

Gideon and Eddie saw my face. They were curious and concerned.

I mouthed, “My father.” Their eyes nearly sprung out of their sockets.

I went into another room so I could focus.

It was, in a word, unreal.

And clearly too much to explain in this one post. Get ready for Part 5 and 6. Thanks for joining me on this journey.

XO,
Beth

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Dear Women* Who Date My Sons,

Ladies, I’ve tried my best to ensure they understand our anatomy. Once, I even pulled out a diagram of our bits at the dinner table.

(Look. Listen. Education has no boundaries.)

I never ever want them to be like these idiots:

I’ve told them porn isn’t realistic. I mean, I’ve never once gotten off by someone slapping my parts. I don’t know any woman who has an instant orgasm from penetration. There are no naked pizza delivery drivers in my neighborhood.

If you have and can, and there are, good for you! No shade.

I should share this with them and really make it weird:

It’s a good explanation.

Of course, there are plenty of other … uh … aspects of and tactics for gratification.

Just know that I have told them they need to make sure you get yours. And to listen to what you say about how to do that.

Also, we’ve discussed various methods of birth control and THEIR responsibility.

Not that I’m advocating for sex willy nilly, but I am realistic.

They are still teenagers, so they have plenty to learn. Just know I’ve done my best.

Looking forward to getting to know you!

Sincerely,
Your boyfriend’s mom

*Before anyone gets hot and bothered, let me say that I used to start off sentences with, “When you date someone, and he, she or they …” I just wanted to leave the door open. But every time I said that, they informed me they like girls. The door is still open; I don’t care.

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Dear Halloween,

I love you so much. Still. As I’ve said. And this year, I feel like I’ve taken advantage of the opportunities you provide.

Decorating the house? Check.

Haunted Mine? Check.

Costumed cat? Check.

Six Flags Fright Fest? Check. With the boys, even, who had a bit they did for the occasion.

Carving pumpkins? Check.

The Darkness haunted house? Check. Although that wasn’t without risk.

I wasn’t moving fast enough, so Dominic moved me into a doorframe. On accident. So he says. 😉

Scary movies and fire pit? Check.

I’ve even seen “Halloween Ends.” (I would not say it was worth the time and money. Maybe I’m just a hipster when it comes to franchises.)

I’m looking forward to seeing if I get trick or treaters this year — my first year in my house.

Anyway, thanks for being you. I’m a fan.

Love,
Beth

*Alice, of course.

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Dear Beauty (and those with similar viewpoints),

I read your blog, posts, etc., because your beliefs are so different from mine. I’m really trying to understand. To find some common ground. It’s really hard, though.

And you clearly aren’t seeking dissenting voices. (I’ve mentioned before how you won’t approve comments that disagree with you. That’s your prerogative, of course.)

In your latest post, “The War For Young Minds” (no hyperbole there 🙄), you lament a part of “Hocus Pocus 2.”

Unpopular opinion: Your mistake was watching “Hocus Pocus 2” and not because of any drag queens. The original “Hocus Pocus” is unbearable.

But I digress.

Here’s the thing (and what I wrote in a comment that you deleted):

This doesn’t affect you. Drag queens do not impact your quality of life. A trans person living his/her/their life does not harm you in any way.

Let’s talk about the pejorative “woke.” Why is it so wrong to show people who are different from ourselves on TV and in movies? Why is representation threatening to you? Why does it bother you that a person wants you to use preferred pronouns in reference to him/her/them?

I know you are super religious, so let’s talk about a quality of God you’ve mentioned: never making mistakes.

You know what does affect children? The fear of being killed in school. There was a shooting Monday at a school three miles away from my house. That’s 40 school shootings this year, in case you are keeping track.

For someone who is so devoutly pro life, I would think you would care about that.

I have never once worried that a drag queen was going to kill me or children. In fact, drag queens have improved my life with meat prizes.

You know what else affects children? Predatory behavior.

I would think that Christian Republicans like yourself would care about that too. But no, that concern is selective, political, engineered and manifested for personal gain.

I have never once worried that a drag queen was going to molest my children.

So spare me your outrage. All I see is hypocrisy.

If you profess to care about children, you need to care about the children going to school worried about their safety. And children being preyed upon by grown men. And the ones who are LBGTQIA.

Some children may even grow up to be drag queens. If they are lucky. 😉

How do you explain to a kid why men are dressed as women? You say, “Because they want to.”

It’s as easy as that.

I mean, who cares?

Right. You do. Too much.

“Woke agenda.” Sigh. Drag is “harmful.”

Look. Listen.

Raise your children the way you want. Have the experiences you want to have. Surround yourself with likeminded people. Believe in and celebrate God. That’s your privilege. But know that it is YOUR responsibility to watch over your children, not Disney’s.

Someday, I hope your view of what’s appropriate, acceptable, “normal” and worth attention will change.

In the meantime, I wish you all the best.

Sincerely,
Beth

*Thanks, Aerosmith!

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Dear Holzhauer Auto and Motorsports Group:

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Best?

When Gideon was visiting me, he found a 2014 Dodge Charger he liked at your establishment. (What is it with my kids and muscle cars? Just teenage boys, I guess.)

We took a drive to Nashville, Illinois, and purchased the car on the spot.

Gideon save up $2,000 for the down payment.

We were assured that you had inspected the car and all was well. We purchased a warranty to be on the safe side.

We drove back to St. Louis, and arranged for Gideon and Eddie to come up this weekend to drive it back to Georgia.

Worst?

I took the car for safety and emission inspections to get it registered.

I bet you know what is coming.

It failed the safety inspection because it needed a new catalytic converter, engine mounts, an engine leak fixed, etc.

I think you knew this. That’s why we got such a good deal.

And your warranty doesn’t cover any of that. Of course. (So what good is it? I’d love to know.)

More than $6,500 later, the car is finally road worthy.

Happy about the car. Not happy about the 12-hour drive ahead.

Sigh.

It was worth it to see Gideon so happy, but I’ll be contacting you tomorrow for a discussion.

Talk to you later!
Beth

*Thanks, Rihanna!

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Dear UPS,

You SUCK. Truly and completely.

Scenario:

Gideon left his glasses at a friend’s house. Friend and friend’s mom sent them back via UPS. They never arrived. Tracking number came up as “invalid” on phone searches. A computer search turned it up in Alpharetta. Where? I don’t know. This is all the information I had:

Left at the front desk WHERE in Alpharetta? Friend and mom shipped from Brookhaven to Gideon in Savannah! (Note: Brookhaven is 20 miles away from Alpharetta, and both are more than 270 miles from Savannah.)

So I filed a claim.

A month went by with no answer.

I emailed you.

This is what you said:

Shan K., I can ASSURE you it was not delivered to the address.

I wrote back. (I TRIED to call, but was hung up on TWICE.)

Then Ana Z got involved.

  1. The delivery address was correct. I confirmed that with friend and friend’s mom and THE ACTUAL RECEIPT.
  2. They sent it from Brookhaven. The package ended up in Alpharetta.
  3. There are EIGHT UPS stores in Alpharetta.

I called ALL EIGHT stores looking for a Richard who was working there in March. The LAST store I called was the only one with a Richard. He happened to be working when I called.

Oh, yeah. It’s right here.

He confirmed that the address was correct. And then CHARGED me to have it resent.

Why? Because the package was sent originally from a different store. UPS stores are franchises. So Alpharetta is not responsible for Brookhaven.

So to recap:

  1. The first driver was lazy as hell. (Mailing address was accurate.)
  2. The claims process is a joke. (No updates/information.)
  3. Your customer service is beyond laughable. (Didn’t actually do anything and gave conflicting information.)
  4. I’m out $11.68 and time out of my life to deal with this hassle. (Evidence of your sucktitude.)
I paid the ransom money, and it arrived Friday.

YOU should have tracked down this package for me. I should not have had to call EIGHT stores to find one with an employee named Richard. And I want my $11.68 back.

Never again, UPS.

Sincerely,
A Former Customer

*Sorry, Stevie.

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Dear Dominic and Gideon,

I see my friends posting about prom and honor societies and college visits and whatnot. Though part of me wishes you wanted the traditional high school milestones, most of me loves that you are doing things your own way.

For example, you eschewed the actual prom to have your own prom in a friend’s back yard. (Props to that mom: She did a great job!)

This is a fancy party! (Photo credit: Petra McKinnon)

And no one seemed to care about dates. It was one big friend group.

Girls seem to be an afterthought, which is fine by me. I’m not ready to be a grandma! I do wonder if I’m somehow a gang mom. What are those signs they are throwing? (Photo credit: Petra McKinnon)

I’m surprised there were real suits. You two had threatened to go to Actual Prom in your Spider-Man costumes.

Not that there is anything wrong with that, I guess. It’s really par for the course for you and your pals. After all, this is how you go to school:

And how you go to Target:

I don’t know how you can go shopping. You spent all your money on a Batsuit.

My son, The Batman

It’s movie quality. It should be for the amount of money the two of you spent. (I still can’t believe you chipped in, Gideon.)

But you know what? You AREN’T spending money on drugs.

Your habits are nerdy and wholesome. I’m a fan.

And Dominic, you’ve been a Bat fan for your whole life, so I’m not surprised.

Uh oh. You spotted the Joker!

I love you both very much. And I love that you are individuals.

Stay Gold,
Mama

*Thanks and apologies to Frank.

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Dear Dominic,

You may look like your father, but your personality is all me. And that’s why we drive each other crazy. You know what buttons and borders to push.

When you want something, you don’t stop until you get it.

That’s me too.

Take, for example, a car.

I told you I needed something to drive when I’m in Savannah. You took it upon yourself to find me something. In Atlanta.

Well, to find yourself something.

Lucky for you, I’m a big fan of muscle cars like this.

I had the dealer FaceTime me. As soon as he started it up, and I heard the signature purr of the engine, I was sold.

So I did cancel the second leg of my flight to buy it and drive it down.

But I didn’t tell you that. I told you I was getting a rental. So when we went out to get in “the rental” to go car shopping, you were shocked.

The good news for me is that this maneuver ensured you wouldn’t forget Mother’s Day.

$1. Funny kid. 🙄

I love you, you silly boy.
Mama

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