Friday, December 21, 2012

The Best Gift Ever!

I can't believe we are only a few days away from Christmas, one of my favorite holidays that I always look forward to every year.  This year will be different since there have been so many tragedies that have happened within the last few days in December, so as a huge favor I would love for all of us to take a few minutes to ourselves and remember those families who have lost their loved ones.


Christmas was something I looked forward to every year when I was a kid.  My parents had a family tradition of going to midnight mass, relatives visiting, watching my mum decorating the tree to a certain theme while counting all of the decorations as she placed them, socializing, playing games, baking, making gingerbread houses, cooking a big turkey dinner, wrapping presents, and watching movies.  In the morning I was usually the last one out of bed. I know that seems crazy to some of you since most children are up so early, eagerly waiting to open their gifts.  I have a Christmas video to prove this.  My mum would have to wake me up several times before I actually got out of bed. As an adult I still have a hard time getting out of bed.  LOL!  My dad would make us tea, and then all of us would gather around the tree in our pyjamas or comfy clothes and open presents.

I know some families with children don't get a lot of gifts at Christmas time, but my parents always did their best to help those in need by donating food, clothing or toys to a shelter, church or someone that they knew could use some help.  We were very lucky that my parents were able to support us.  After our presents were open we would have brunch and my mum usually made waffles with strawberries and whipped cream and then for the rest of the day she would be prepping dinner.



 About four years ago, sadly this all changed.  My dad who I was extremely close to, passed away.  It was a huge shock to the family, friends and community who knew him and I never realized it until now, but he was the one that held everyone together.  He was the one that would do anything for anyone before himself.  I feel bad that I didn't realize this until after he had passed away, or maybe I did but I didn't realize it until now.  The Christmas traditions stopped. My mum no longer felt like celebrating anymore, which is completely understandable.  I remember the first year having to go through all of the holidays without my dad being there was really tough.  I haven't seen some of the family members in the last few years, because we are not as tight as we used to be.  I miss that.  But, I discovered there is nothing much we can do except try to be grateful for what we have in front of us and not give up hope.





















    
A few years ago my life changed again but this time a prayer was answered.  I finally found my birth mom and family, which I had been searching for for 5 years.  My parents told me from a young age that I was adopted, but I didn't really understand what they meant until I was in my teens.  They would remind me all the time that my birth mom loved me, and that she even gave me the name Je t'aime, which means "I love you" in French.  I thought this was a pretty cool name, and I still do.

I started searching for my family as soon as I was legally able to which was at the age of 19.  I never gave up hope, and I didn't tell many people that I was looking in case things didn't work out the way I had planned.  I wrote ads in the paper and did a passive search through the Adoption Reunion Registry, but every attempt came up as a dead end.  Life went on.

In between searching I got married to my best friend/soul mate Chad, went to school, moved out on my own, and started working and saving up money.  Once I had the money to continue searching, I did just that.  I filed for my original birth certificate which would give me a crucial piece of evidence that would eventually end my search: my mom's middle name.



I would check the mailbox daily.  After several months had passed my birth certificate finally arrived in the mail.  I was so excited and was about to look into what the next step would be to find my mom.  But then something inside of me was telling me to check Facebook, since most people had been using the social website for a couple of years and I figured, whats the worst that could happen? If she doesn't have Facebook, I will just continue on.

I went on the computer, logged into my Facebook account and entered the name that was written on the birth certificate.  A picture came up with the name.  I clicked on it, and was looking at it thinking to myself, is this her? I got really excited, but I didn't want to get my hopes up too high just in case it wasn't.  I immediately asked Chad to come over to see for himself and passed on the picture to other family members to get their opinions.  They all agreed that she looked just like me.

I sent her a message over Facebook, but I could tell that she wasn't very active so I decided to send messages to other people on her friends list and hoped that someone would let me know or let her know.  Chad also helped me with this, and he was the one that got the call that yes in fact she was my mom.  I remember he called me at home, and I just happened to be home from work since I was sick that day and I answered the phone and he told me the news.  It is hard to describe how I felt. I just had all of these emotions hit me and I couldn't wait to meet her and find out if I had more family members out there.  Later on that day, I called her and we talked on the phone for hours as if we had known each other for years.  

Found Birth mom on Facebook - Interview with Chek News

We met in person on Mother's Day of 2010. I met my mom along with her common law husband, my Aunty and cousin.  I was so overjoyed and excited that I had never given up on my search.  It was so awesome to have both of my moms in the same room.

A few weeks later, I met the rest of the family.  They all knew that I had been adopted and it was for certain reasons but they all said the same thing, that they hoped I would find them one day, kind of like finding the missing piece of the puzzle and now the puzzle is complete.  Looking back on this I know my dad had something to do with this. He knew that I wanted to find them, he knew that I wanted answers, and to be a part of my birth family.  They have all welcomed me with open arms, and now I am very much involved in a lot of the family functions that take place.  It was definitely an exciting, overwhelming and emotional time and to this day I am still very grateful.

First time meeting my birth family.  Mom on the left, cousin Kyle and Aunty Diane on the right.

Christmas started to become an exciting time for me again. Having family dinners, celebrating Christmas, playing silly games and even though it may not be the usual family tradition that I grew up with, I know deep down that my dad knew that I wanted and needed my birth family in my life.  To not only find myself and have all of my questions answered but for them as well since I was the missing piece of the puzzle.  I can't wait to see what else lies ahead for us as a family. 

Christmas with my birth family:)

I hope this blog gives you an insight into what my journey has been like. I hope everyone has a great Christmas and when you are with your family, look around and be grateful for what you have.  Christmas is not just about getting gifts under the tree, it can also be the gift of a lifetime that can forever change for the better.  

Some of the family gathering for Aunty Grace's wedding!



1 comment:

  1. That was so beautiful. Thanks for sharing your story Val!

    ReplyDelete