The first time we met I could barely keep all of my emotions in check. I was 15 years old, sitting inside a booth at a Sizzler in Provo, Utah with my older brother Chad, my parents, and a social worker. I was excited, nervous, scared, confused, and a little bitter. I was in a weird place — both figuratively and literally. I was about to meet my birth mother at Sizzler!
“Mom and Dad, can we meet our real mom?” That’s how this whole thing started. It was Chad who managed to summon the courage to ask the question. He could actually remember living with her before we were both adopted. I couldn’t remember anything. I could barely wrap my head around the fact that I was adopted.
I had so many questions, but there were some that loomed larger than others. I wanted to know if she looked liked me and my brother. I wanted to know about my biological father. Mostly, though, I wanted to know why she chose to give me up for a adoption.
“Hi, my name is Andrea. I’m your mom,” she said that day at Sizzler. She gave me a big hug as tears trickled down her cheeks. I didn’t realize it then, but looking back on it now it’s clear she was going through the same emotional roller coaster that I was that day.
In the past 15 years, I’ve come to know the woman I used to only be able to fantasize about as a child. She was a big Clint Eastwood fan (hence my first name), and an avid reader of anything written by Louis L’Amour. I recently started sending her Elmore Leonard novels just to try to rock her world and shake her L’Amour testimony.
She wandered through a difficult life with grace and humility, hoping to one day find harmony, hoping to one day find peace.
When her sister called me last week and told me that day was rapidly approaching, I realized that I never got around to asking her why she gave me up for adoption. Turns out the need never arose. I’d found the answer somewhere along the way.
She didn’t give me up, she gave me a chance. What ultimately comes of it falls on my shoulders, but because of her courage, her decision, her life, I get to make that determination.
Last Tuesday night, as Chad and I stood over her bedside and watched her take her final breath, it was my turn to have tears trickle down my cheeks.
I held her hand, kissed her forehead, and silently whispered, “Thanks for the chance, mom.”