…and a daughter, Ruby.

The title you see above is the whole reason for this blog. I swore I would never keep a blog or use the internet for serious business of a personal nature. But now I really need to start telling my story, for my sake and for others like me.

I am an adoptee. I am 37 years old. For over 15 years, I have searched, on and off, in a not very dedicated manner, for my biological family. All the usual reasons were involved–I am not going to talk about them here or try to justify my search. This story really isn’t for non-adoptees or for adoptees who have chosen not to search, though you’re all welcome to read along. This story is for adoptees who have searched and found a grave, and for those who are afraid of finding a grave.

I believe that I have found my natural mother’s identity, and I believe that she is dead. No, I have not yet proven that this is not a string of truly cosmic coincidences involving people with identical, unusual names and identical birth dates. A letter I put in the mail two days ago should confirm or rule out this conclusion but that is only a case of being thorough. I do not entertain any hope that she is alive.

I want to tell this story as it happens and describe my feelings as I’m feeling them. The reason I want to do this is not because I am looking for attention or sympathy, but because when I searched the internet for similar stories I found very few of them, and the ones I did find were written so far after the fact that they were mostly cheery messages of “You’ll get through it, and at least you’ll have some answers!” You know, I really did not need to read that shit, even though I am sure the author had the best of intentions. I wanted to read about how much it hurt, and how weird it felt to grieve so intensely for someone you don’t remember, don’t know, and hardly know anything about. I was miserable (and still am) and I wanted some validation for that misery, because it is far beyond anything I ever expected or anything most people would ever understand.

So let me tell you the story, or at least some of the story, so far. As I update this blog I will also backfill the backstory as needed. This could be a cool non-linear form of storytelling or a pretentious gimmick, but in my case it’s just practical.

As of last week, I had the following: my original name, my natural mother’s husband’s name, my natural mother’s maiden surname, and the knowledge that they were from out of town and likely out of state (he was in the military during the Vietnam war). If it weren’t for the last bit, finding them would have been a snap. But the last bit made it pretty hard for me. I’m sure I could have hired a P.I. or something and found them, but I really felt like I should do it myself. I will discuss this at greater length in a later post about the guilt and self-recriminations of not searching “soon enough” and it will be lots of fun, let me tell you.

Anyhow, I’d had this information for about a decade. Life happens, you know. Periodically I would try Googling various combinations of the names I had or looking them up on Switchboard to see if I could at least narrow down the states and counties I’d have to look in, if I ever found the time to bother. Well, last Saturday night (June 2, 2007) I struck gold. Googling natural mom’s husband’s name landed me an entry for their marriage record on someone’s genealogy page for his family name. I had her full name! My natural mom’s name is Ruby. Ruby. I couldn’t sleep that whole night. Ruby.

Ruby turned out to be pretty hard to find. I traced her through several marriages and divorces thanks to rootsweb.com‘s extensive online public records indexes. I was sad to see she’d had a tough time with relationships but I was (a bit selfishly) somewhat relieved that her first husband wasn’t in the picture anymore. That was one of the things that had made me hesitant about searching for her (as you might have guessed, I’m not his son). I found a death record for her dad from a just a few years ago, which made me sad but also hopeful that if I could just track down the obituary I might find something I could use to locate her or other family members.

It took a while (small town newspaper, not in any of the free obituary databases) but finally on Monday a 3-day trial membership to Ancestry.com paid off. I had it! So many family names, and locations! And natural grampa was a WW2 vet, wow, wish I could have met him. But where was Ruby? Oh, here she is… Oh, no.

Mr. ____ was preceded in death by his wife, ____; a son ____; and a daughter, Ruby.

Everything just stopped. … a daughter, Ruby. I had to read it a few times. I had to think about the word preceded just to make sure I hadn’t somehow forgotten its meaning. No, she’s gone. I was too late. I missed my chance. I’ll never meet her. I felt so incredibly empty. I wanted to cry my eyes out but we had a plumber working in the basement so I cried softly behind my computer screen until he was gone.

It turned out she hadn’t shown up on the Social Security Death Index when I looked previously (yes, I’d thought of this possibility and checked as soon as I’d found her name) because she had died with her first married name. Which was quite a surprise. And there it was. She died in 1999. Eight years ago. At least a few years after I’d uncovered enough information that I probably could have found her if I had really tried.

It has been three days since I found out my natural mom was dead. It is the most painful thing, the most difficult thing, that has ever happened to me. I realize that there are plenty of worse tragedies out there, but that does not change how painful this is for me right now. Yes, I will get through it. That’s not the point. I found a number of sites and adoptee blogs telling me I will get through it and they all really kinda pissed me off. Don’t try to make me feel better. I don’t want to feel better. Not right now. I need to mourn. I need to grieve for someone I don’t remember. And I can’t seem to figure out how to do that.

There’s a little bit more to catch up on but I will have to wrap it up later because I am very tired and I have to get up early in the morning. Thanks for reading.

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8 Responses to “…and a daughter, Ruby.”


  1. 1 Theresa June 8, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    There’s also a group over at http://foundandlostsupport.com/

    I don’t know if you came across that site or not. It’s closed membership to only parents and children who have found a grave at the end of their search.

    I’m glad you’ve come to AFC though. Hope you’ll stay a bit.

  2. 2 ibastard June 8, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    Thanks, Theresa. I did find that, but strangely I’ve been hesitant to join. It’s that whole, oh no what if I’m wrong and my natural mom is alive? As if that would be embarrassing or something. Oh man, wtf is wrong with me? Hahaha. Maybe it’s that weird adoptee sense of never really belonging anywhere. Yeah, I know, that’s stupid and I will probably just join.

  3. 3 Wendy June 10, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing this with all of us. Those who have found a grave as well as those who have found nothing or otherwise. Some folks will never understand the pain of losing someone “you never knew”. I however do understand. I am also a member of foundlost. I also grew up in Ohio. I spent 14 active years searching. However my first mom died when I was one.
    The roller coaster will be strong at first with breaks to come. Hang in there and know in a sense she is with you, she does know your pain and will also understand when you get angry at her as well.
    Hugs.
    Wendy ~You can not find Peace until you have found all of the Pieces.

  4. 4 Marilyn K. Phillips June 10, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Another Wow, you are good at explaining your pain. It is hell and this is so fresh for you. I can relate to some of your mom’s story, Keeping my 2nd. husbands name thru 4 more marriages, and then after 28 years we re-married. but I kept his name because all my children had that name and I wanted to retain the same name as my children. Relationships werent my strong suit either I believe due to the loss I mentioned of my real dad as I call him. Even tho my step dad was a wonderful man he was always dad but in my head I needed to know why I wasen’t acknowledged by my “real dad” It hurt like hell and still does. I’m sorry that you feel angry about some of the things said in response but I do also understand it. It’s hard to get past our experiences and I guess that the initial pain is so great our heads don’t want to go back there. But we do know what its like and know the best thing is to go thru it not to deny it. We certainly don’t think that’s best cause it bottles up and festers and becomes rage, and numerous other things. Illnesses etc. Were here to listen and let the members say and get off their chests what ever their need is.

  5. 5 Marilyn K. Phillips June 10, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    I’m getting long winded here but have so many feelings along with you that its a tough thing really tough. Just want to send hugs and hankies. Take care.

  6. 6 iBastard June 11, 2007 at 1:21 am

    Thanks for all your comments. I really, really appreciate them. I’m trying to write about this as it happens because I think the things I have to say about it will change as things unfold, and I think a great deal of this whole experience will get lost over the “synoptic horizon”. When this first started last week, I really needed to read something like what I’m writing now.

  7. 7 Valentina July 5, 2007 at 6:26 am

    I wish I knew where the AIML archives went because you could find the hurt, the grief, the intensity, the sympathy and the validation there.

  8. 8 Denise Marconi Leitch July 10, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    Hi, I hope this is the right place to comment on finding a grave; I am also a bereaved searcher. I lost my one and only child to adoption in 1969, I searched and found out, in 2003, that he had been dead for 15 years. To say I was devastated would be a gross understatement; my life went into a tailspin. After the shock, denial and anger phases had subsided I became clinically depressed for the first time in my life. I couldn’t leave the house. I didn’t get out of my pj’s, comb my hair or shower for weeks on end.
    When I first lost my baby boy, the one thing that sustained me was knowing I would be reunited with him one day. I lived with that hope for 33 years and then, within a minute, all the hopes and dreams that once kept me sane regressed in to madness, into unspeakable pain. After 6 months of floundering I knew I needed to find others like myself, I needed to find others who understood the intense sense of love and longing I had for someone I never met, however, I couldn’t find a group that catered to my situation on the entire Internet!! They say “necessity is the mother of invention,” in this case it has proven true; I started my own group for those who have been separated from a biological family member by adoption, searched and found a grave. I call the group Found and Lost Support. I would like to invite you, and all others who have had the same devastating result to their search, to join my group of very wonderful, supportive, understanding adoptee’s and moms. Go to http://www.foundandlostsupport.com and click on Membership, on the right hand side of the page’s navigation bar. Thank you for speaking out. I am very sorry for your loss. Sincerely, Denise


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