Happy Anniversary! Yes, one year ago today, I met my birth mother and her sister in person. Before meeting we had exchanged numerous emails, but never talked on the phone. In fact, she wondered if I had a southern accent. Only after a glass or two of Merlot, I replied! Naturally, the anticipation was high. Before I jump to the actual meeting, I'll touch on how it all came together so beautifully.
While my case worker searched for my birth mom, I did as well. Being a competitive person, my goal was to crack the case before the professional! I catalogued the schools attended by each sibling, estimated when each sibling graduated from high school, requested class lists from those schools, combed through online year books, all in an attempt to find an Irish sounding matching name. This process was tedious beyond belief, but incredibly compelling. As I mentioned in the last post, half of the non ID information I received from Catholic Charities was incorrect, but I didn't know that at the time.
In early November, my case worker confirmed that my birth mom was alive. Phew. She estimated contact time to occur by Thanksgiving. Given the number of siblings living in the area, locating my birth mom should be easy. Two weeks later, my case worker said that she made contact! I was too excited at the time to ask how she made contact. My Type A self simply thought, "okay, I'll hear from her in a couple of days!" Sadly, weeks and weeks went by in silence.
Feeling a bit down, I finally asked my case worker to explain her strategy for making contact. I nearly fell over when she said that she simply left birth mom a Facebook message. That's it, I thought. My case worker went on to explain that after finding a phone number, she had started leaving vague messages for birth mom, like, "Hi, this is Cathy*. Please call me when you get a chance." WHAT! Birth mom is not going to call her back! At this point my Type A nature went into overdrive. It was time to take this into my own hands. I did not fire my case worker, as I did want her to be the intermediary once I found my birth mom, but I obsessively resumed searching online.
Friends and family gave me new search ideas, along with much appreciated support along the way. My brother in law energized me with the idea of searching cemetery records. My non ID info gave me an idea of when my grandmother died and the report listed her first name. I sat for HOURS combing through online cemetery records, looking in vain for "Jitterbug Mary" (her nickname). I mean HOURS. When I exhausted this avenue, I considered requesting a death report from the coroner's office. However, my Pathologist friend said that such a report would be nearly impossible to obtain. Erg, another dead end. So I moved on to searching obituaries. Ancestry.com told me that without a last name, finding grandma's obit. would be nearly impossible. Undeterred, I befriended my local librarian and ordered microfilm of the newspaper for the year she died, prepared to read every issue until I found her listing. Later, I found out that my search would have been futile, as the death year in the report was...you guessed it...wrong. Luckily, a giant break through occurred the week I waited for the microfilm to arrive!