Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sometimes I Wonder

I was born to an unwed mother in July 1980.

My parents married in Las Vegas in July of 1981. Granted, the man my mother married would not be my adoptive father until a few years later, but since he is the man who raised me, I always refer to him as my dad.

My first half brother was due in April of 1982, but was two weeks late and was born in May.

In August of 1983 my father adopted me, and that same year in October my brother and I were sealed to my parents in a temple ritual.

My second half brother was born in December 1983.

My last half brother was born in April of 1985 and shortly after that my mother under went many surgeries trying to stop cancer from taking her life. She was in and out of the hospital dozens of times between 1985 and 1993.

In 1994 my parents separated, then divorced.

In 1996 they remarried.

In 1998 they divorced.

In 2001 the remarried.

In 2006 they prepared for another divorce, but decided to stay together.

After they divorced in 1998, my mother decided it would be best to tell me that the man I always knew as my biological father wasn't my real dad.

She reached this decision after one of their many fights. That night I had spent time with my dad and brothers at Disneyland. We were annual passholders and it wasn't uncommon for us to visit for a few hours here and there when we knew the park wouldn't be too busy.

It was my dad's weekend, but being a full grown 18 year old adult, I preferred to sleep in my own bed than on the floor of my dad's apartment. So after we decided to call it a night, my dad drove me home and dropped me off.

I walked in the house, let her know I was home, then headed to my bedroom. She called to me and told me there was something important she wanted to tell me.

I plopped down on the couch and she told me that my dad wasn't my real dad, that my brothers were only half brothers, that she was raped and that is how I came to be, and that I had older half siblings, but she wasn't sure. I stared blankly at her for a short while, then she said that I couldn't tell my brothers because they didn't know.

I was dumbstruck. I didn't know how to process the information. I borrowed her car and drove to my boyfriends house. He held me as I cried and tried to help me process some of the emotions I was experiencing. He asked me if she could be lying to try to hurt me, and even though it wouldn't have surprised me, I knew she had told me something true.

My dad was Italian. 100% full blooded Italian. I had always had a sense of pride knowing that I was 50% Italian. It gave me a sense of belonging. I loved watching my Italian grandmother cook and I wanted to visit Italy one day. That was all taken from me in an instant. I could still go to Italy and I could still find joy with my grandmother, but I felt like a piece of me was confiscated. A piece that I realized never truly belonged to me, but something that I identified with and found pride in.

When my dad found out how she told me he was furious. He felt that he should have been present when I was told the truth and that they should have done it as a team. My mom felt that I was more her daughter than his and since I 'aged out' of child support, he no longer had a say.

My world was shattered. My two younger brothers who were closest in age found out almost immediately after I was told. It was important to me that the lies stopped. My mother begged me not to tell my youngest brother. He was delayed due to the medications my mother was on during pregnancy, and she didn't know how he would handle it. I decided to respect her wishes, as I didn't want to upset the already frail balance of the household.

That didn't last long, my youngest brother struggled with boundaries and walked into my bedroom a few nights later when I was talking to my boyfriend about it.  He overheard enough to understand that I wasn't is 'real' sister. It broke my heart trying to explain it to him and I could tell that he was equally as hurt.

As time went by I started to wonder why she kept me. If she was raped, and knew her attacker well enough to know that I had older half siblings, why did she choose to keep me? I understand why an abortion probably wasn't high on her list of choices, but why didn't she give me up for adoption?

I decided to ask her to tell me more about my biological father. She said his name was Michael Craig Hobbs and he was a customer that she spoke to every so often when he would come into the convenience store she worked at. She knew he was married, but they became quick friends. One night after she got off work, he stopped by and asked her to come over to his place for some dinner.

That is when he raped her.

She said that it was brutal enough that she had dark bruising for months afterwards and when she realized she was pregnant, she panicked. She hadn't told anyone about the incident and now that she was pregnant, she knew she had to.

She said they called the police, he was arrested, she pressed charges and took him to court. But before the trial started she decided it was too painful. And canceled the court hearings.

Three years later when my dad wanted to adopt me, she said she drove me out to meet Michael for the first and last time and he signed away his custody.

I felt bad for her. She was only 19 when she had me. I know working at a convenience store wasn't the most glamorous job, but because of what happened that Autumn night in 1979 she lost a lot of her choices for her future.

It wasn't until a decade later, when I was 28, when I decided I wanted to look for Michael because my genetic history had become important after my first child was born. As I searched, I found there weren't any arrest records for him in either Orange or Riverside County. I looked for court records, I looked for marriage certificates, and it was almost like he never existed. I went down to the Family Court in Orange County to try to find something, anything, that would lead me in the right direction. I came up empty handed.

Because I was adopted by my dad, my records were sealed in the State of California. I didn't have access to anything. If I wanted to find out anything, I would have to ask my mother and trust that what she told me was the truth.

That didn't go well. She immediately became the victim. How dare I try to hurt her like this. How dare I viciously attack the man who raised me by wanting to know about her rapist. How could I be so selfish and so shallow.

After talking to her a bit more, I started to doubt there was a man named Michael. I started to wonder about if she really did know my biological dad, but they were both Mormon, if she had to lie in order to be able to stay in her parents home. I wonder if he was going to be leaving for his mission and if she had been honest, it would have ruined his life too. I wonder if she loved him and would have married him if she didn't get knocked up. I wondered if her life would have been better without me. I think there is a very good chance it would have been.

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