Monday, May 31, 2004

MEMORIAL DAZE

I didnít know how to respond to the news. The memory of my dad passing away eight years ago on May 28 was just a topic of discussion a few weeks ago. Now, the sad events of another May 28 begin with a phone call early Friday evening.

I first heard of Martin about 11 years ago when I began a search for more information about my biological parents. Prior to this time I had only non-identifying information from the courts about my adoption. A long time friend of mine, also an adult adoptee, invited my to attend a meeting of the Adoption Identity Movement in Grand Rapids. With his encouragement and the support of my family, I proceeded with having a legal intermediary secure identifying information from the county court records.

A few weeks later I granted permission to begin the search for both my birth parents. It was just a matter of a few days when information about Margaret and Martin became available. My biological mother had been found and informed, for the first time, that the child she gave birth to in 1953 was a boy.

In April 1993, I met Margaret and a half-brother who had been residing in my hometown for years. I also spoke with a half-sister in California. I remember telling my adoptive father about the reunions and agreeing that we should not share the details with my adoptive mother.

Martin lived in Florida. Although a letter I wrote was forwarded to him through the legal intermediary, he was not willing to acknowledge that he was my birth father, and returned the letter and copy of the original birth certificate. It was a response the Adoption Identity Movement considered typical and not surprising to me. I could accept his denial.

The most positive result of these search efforts, however, was the opportunity to meet and establish a good relationship with Martinís son who lives in Zeeland, Michigan. My half brother, Ron, and our families have enjoyed several Thanksgiving dinners and countless snowmobiling adventures in Newaygo county in recent years.

So when Ron called me last Friday evening, May 28, I wasnít sure how to respond to the news. His 89-year old father had passed away in Florida just a few hours earlier. Martinís body will be flown back to Holland after the holiday weekend and arrangements for a funeral this Thursday were announced.

Although slightly dazed, I will go to the funeral this Thursday to support my brother and his family. Disappointed and sad? A little, but not because of the my choices or action--and for that matter, not for the decisions made some 50 years ago...but more on that topic later. For now, my condolence to the friends and family of Martin VanderVliet.

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