Category Archives: Adoption

My Two Dads

 

This post is part of a Facebook tribute that I wrote shortly after my father Paddy died. It was a tribute to him, and to Norm, the dad who raised me. An adoptee, I met Paddy when I was 48. The first thing he said to me was, “I’ve missed you. I prayed for you every day, and I love you.” I’d missed him too, without knowing it. I’d yearned for my birth mother, and had felt the pain of separation, even though my adoptive parents loved me unfathomably, but I had never really considered a father.

My birth parents looked for me, and they found me: a 48 year old orphan who was separated by distance from the brother I grew up with. None-the-less, I was surrounded by a raucous and loving household which consisted of a husband who is my high school sweetheart and our three offspring, prodigies each in their own way, but that’s another story, and yes I’m super proud of my children, and so were my two dads.

So, how can I explain the deep affection and admiration that I have for my fathers? I am no longer worried that in doing so, I might lessen or disregard the dad who raised me, because I’m not; Norman taught me all that there is to know about patience, and unconditional love. He taught me how to swim, ski, ride a bike, and appreciate the beauty and power of nature. I had years with my first dad to absorb all the good things; he filled up my happiness reserves enough to sustain me when he died, and enough to sustain me even now. Paddy didn’t replace my dad, he simply arrived at a time in my life when I needed another father, especially one who I could love as much as Norm.

. . .

Paddy told me that he regretted not being able to see me after I was born, or say ‘good-bye.’ In the short time that I spent getting to know my new father, I learned the generosity of his love; it is reflected in my beautiful mother Catherine, and in my siblings. Paddy was battling cancer when we met, so I knew there wasn’t time to waste. Saying ‘goodbye’ to him was something that neither of us wanted to do, but at least we got to tell each other how much we loved each other.

I didn’t get to say ‘goodbye’ to my first dad; Norm died suddenly following one of our regular morning phone chats (I live in BC, and he in Toronto). I was flying out with my husband and our kids to visit him the next day. We were devastated. I hope Norm knew how much we all loved him, and what a positive impact he had on me, my brother, and my children. Mostly, I miss my dads, especially on Father’s Day.

The Luck of the Irish☘️

I found out 5 years ago that I’m Irish! Prior to that, I had no clue what my ancestry was. Well, maybe some subtle clues: I’m pale, I have green eyes, I’m friendly and optimistic, I’m obsessed with the weather, and I can’t take a compliment easily. But, I didn’t use a DNA service to discover my lucky heritage; my birth family found me. You see, I was born in Quebec and given up for adoption. Quebec is one of the few provinces in Canada whose adoption records are closed. In 1984, families could begin the registration process for government sanctioned searches; there are thousands of applications and the searches are often fruitless or they can take years. It is estimated that 300,000 adoptions took place in Quebec prior to the 1984 change in provincial legislation.

I was one of the lucky ones! Lucky that my family initiated the search, because I had no information of the details of my birth or my birth family (this is what a closed adoption means). There is no central registry in the province, so adoptees would need to know the agency that handled their adoption; there are many. I am lucky that my birth family found me, lucky that my mom and dad who raised me were the best parents a person could ask for, and lucky that I grew up with my adopted brother Michael. We always knew that we were adopted, because our mom and dad told us how lucky they were to have us 🙂

When a social worker named Carol Barrs called from Batshaw Youth and Family Centre in Montreal 5 years ago, I was completely blown away! I had thought of my birth mother a lot over the years, especially on Mother’s Day, on my birthday, and on the births of my children. Oddly, I rarely considered my birth father, so when the social worker told me that my parents married a year after I was born and that I had two sisters and two brothers, and a grandmother, and that they were worried about me, loved me, and missed me, I could not believe my luck! And then, when Carol told me the names of my grandmother, parents and siblings, I knew that I had won the ancestral lottery: Granny Mary, Patrick (Paddy), Catherine, Linda, Patrick Jr., Tim, and Shannon. I am Irish. I always wanted to be Irish, especially on St. Paddy’s!

Granny Mary will be 90 years old next month; she is so strong, and smart, and cool, and I am lucky to have a relationship with her. My parent’s search to find me was expedited by Batshaw when my father was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. I am extremely lucky that I had 2 years to get to know Paddy. He was hard-working, witty, loving, and proudly Irish. Did you know that when someone says “Top of the morning to you,” the correct response is, “and the rest of the day to yourself” Paddy taught me that💚

So, it’s official. I’m Irish and I am so proud, and so lucky, and so are my children. The Luck of the Irish originated during the gold rush when successful miners were typically Irish. I think their ‘luck’ came from tenacity, stubbornness, hard-work, and dedication to their families. The term was derisive to begin with because the Irish were known to be fun-loving, but it has evolved to encompass a day when people from all cultures want to be Irish.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day☘️

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Reunion Day!

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Granny Mary (aka Granny Dynamite)

💚 The full story of my reunion is published on My Walsh’s page 💚