i had one day in new york city and instead of meeting with a facebook friend i saw my half sister casey (f2fb #31) and my son joseph (f2fb #61). putting them together, i was surprised to figure out that they hadn’t actually seen each other in fifteen years. part of the reason is that i haven’t been good about travel and so i’ve not cultivated a “let’s hop on a plane and visit the relatives” sort of relationship to my family.
but part of it also is that my father (justin, f2fb #30) and my mother aleta put me up for adoption when i was three. the patricks raised me and the theory at the time was that an adoptive family should do all in its power to erase a child’s memory of any previous life. my clothes were changed on the day of the final handover. i didn’t get to take my favorite stuffed animal. my name was changed. and i’m not sure how i came to understand that i would never again see my parents.
f2fb friend #88 helped me go through all the yearbooks of the university of chicago for the five years before and five years after my birth looking for young married students. why? i overheard mrs. patrick tell a neighbor that one of the adoption agency caseworkers told her that i was the daughter of two graduate students there. i went to the cook county recorder of deeds and tried to get a birth certificate and was told that when you’re adopted, even as late as three years old, your certificate is revised to reflect the adoptive family details.
i found my biological family using a private detective. the meeting between my father’s family and me seemed promising. the one between me and my mother less so. in both cases, though, there is a strong presumption that i am not really part of the family and yet i am. there is some sort of provisional aspect to it.
after dinner, joseph and i walked to central park and i apologized–as i sometimes have–about my not being able to give him a robust and affectionate group of family members. then he reminded me that the eastman family–of which he now has aunt susan, aunt julie, aunt clare, and uncle mike–has been that part of his life. and their parents–dick and vivian–hosted us for thanksgiving, christmas and other holidays. eastman, my younger son, is named not so much for any one member of the eastman family but for all of them.
i really hope that this facebook project brings casey and joseph closer together. when they parted, casey suggested they hang out together sometime. i hope they do!
then it was time to get on a plane. the boy scouts suggested a bit of a dare.