The Moment it All Changed: When I Let Go of My Past

Through most of my life I struggled with the fact that the family I lived with was not my biological family. I am sure this is something that many adopted people go through at some time in their lives. I think much of that came from the fact that when I was younger I knew so little about where I came from and who I was. Your birthday and background are such an important part of your identity and for the first 15 years of my life this was surrounded in mystery.

I think this also stemmed from the fact that I could see my little brother as the child of my parents. He was like them is so many ways and I was so different. Not having people in my life who were like me and who understood me was hard. Then I found my family and I found a piece of myself. However, part of me would not let go of those childhood dreams of seeing my mother again. How are you just supposed to let go of the one thing you wanted all your life?

In the last interview my sister asked at what point did it all start to make sense? When did everything change for me? I can remember the day. The day where I was finally able to let go of my birth mother and accept who I was.

It was May 2003 and I was in Central America visiting Eva. I was talking with her about our biological mother because May 19th is the day that she was taken from us and a day that I always think about her. It used to be a very difficult day for me. For in my mind, this is the day that my world was ripped apart.

I was talking with Eva about this. I was so sad and trying desperately to understand why this happened to us. Then Eva said something that I will never forget. She said that I had a great mother in Margaret and behind her, looking down on us, was our mother.

A few days later I was back in Boston. I think I was still feeling a little down. When I got home Margaret had something for me. It was a letter she had sent me while I was in school. The letter was part of something the school was doing and was supposed to be posted somewhere in school. For whatever reason they received the letter too late and ended up sending it back home.

I opened it up and started to read. The letter said how proud she was of me and what a joy it was to raise both Derek and myself. On the back she wrote “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Do you remember I used to sing that to you when you were little?”

I broke down. I remembered very clearly when she used to sing that song. I remembered all the difficult times we had. But most of all I remembered how she loved and cared for me over the years. How both my adoptive mother and father gave me so much when I was little. How they stood by me when I struggled to understand who I was and what had happened to me. How they always believed in me. How they taught me right from wrong and so many other valuable life lessons.

It was exactly what I needed to hear. My sister was right. Behind my mother was…my mother. I couldn’t believe it. This letter I was supposed to receive during school got sent back but arrived when I was away, so I ended up reading it just when i needed it the most. I guess you might call it fate, but from that moment on things got easier. I felt a sense of peace about the situation that I had not felt before.

Looking back years later I can appreciate so much more what my adoptive family was able to give me. Perhaps my longings for growing up with my birth family came from my youthful ignorance. Or maybe it was easier for me to dream of my perfect family then face the difficulties that every family deals with. Whatever it was, I know now how fortunate I was to have them. After getting to know my biological family more, I see how they struggle with the love and understanding that was given to me unconditionally. How they have a hard time looking past each other’s short comings and just love each other for who they are. What I realize now, is that the perfect family I longed for in my youth, I had all along. Not the family that was my blood but the family that became my blood.

Missing you – by Eva

Christmas time already! Time for sharing, for good wishes, for happiness and blessings, for family, for friends, for love! God has been good to me and he gave me the big and wonderful family that I now have. I really love you and I am so happy that I have you now, but even though there is always sadness in my heart.

This is the first Christmas since we started the blog, but of course is not the first Christmas without my mom. Thinking about her is always hard, but the time for Christmas and specially my B-day make it harder.

How much I wish to have her every holiday, every birthday, every single day… sometimes it amazes me how much I miss her, sometimes I find myself thinking about her and imagining how it would be to have her. I am sure she would be a beautiful woman, I am sure we would be so close specially cause I am her only daughter, I am sure she would take care of my daughter and would spoil her like grandmas do.

How it would be to have her for Christmas? I wonder… how it would be to prepare Christmas dinner with her, help her and spend my time with her, along with Daniela, Mama Chila and I am sure with other members of my family… she would be a great cooker right? It is part of our family. How hard is sometimes not to cry when I think about her, every tear is a sign of how much I miss her…

I can’t think about how many Christmas, b-days and holidays I’ve missed her, sometimes I can’t think how I’ve lived without her. The feeling in my heart does not fade away, I still miss her same I missed her when I was 3. But I keep going, life is just about that right? Keep going, growing as a person and living with your experiences, trying to get the best of them. I can’t help to feel sad when I think about her, but I guess it means she is still on my heart.

I really miss you mom you will always be here in my heart…Merry Christmas, you know how much I love you…

Phone Call – By Nelson/Roberto

May 1982

Shortly after Eva saw our mother for the last time, my mother urged my grandmother to take the children and move to Costa Rica where they would be safer. In 1980, Mama Chila packed up the family to live with my aunt Vilma who had been in Costa Rica since 1978. Mama Chila brought with her Vilma’s two children Evelyn and Jacqueline. As well as Ana’s two children Eva and Ernesto. I had not been born yet and our father Luis was in Cuba recovering from the bullet wound.

Earlier that year, Vilma had married a man named Eduardo who was the son of her employer. It was not the best arrangement since Eduardo did not treat Vilma well and occasionally threatened to deport her is she ever left him. Mama Chila and Vilma both worked during the day to provide for the children. Eduardo who was not as ambitious and stayed around the house most of the day.

They didn’t hear much from Luis or Ana. Because of the war it was very hard to send messages. Ana wrote occasionally and the messages where usually delved in person by someone who was involved with the revolution. It had been a few months since Ana had last written. Then one day something weird happened. They received a phone call. Ana never called because it was much to dangerous. Mama Chila and Vilma were both out but Eduardo took the call.

Eduardo sits at home watching TV. Its about 3:30 in the afternoon. My aunt Vilma and grandmother Mama Chila have not come home from work yet. Eduardo lazily flips through the channels waiting for the two of them to come so he can eat. Just then the phone rings. He glances over at it wondering if he should bother picking it up. Reluctantly he stands and wonders over to the phone.


“Hello…is this Eduardo?” an agitated voice replies on the other side.

A little surprised by tone of her voice he replies “Yes…who is this?”

“Its Vilma’s sister Mila” She says nervously

“Mila! How are you? We haven’t herd from you in so lo…”

Ana interrupts him “Eduardo I’m sorry but I don’t have much time. Is my mother there its really important.”

Slightly annoyed by being cut off he replies “No they haven’t returned home from work yet but they should be home soon. You should call back later.”

“No there is no time can you give her a message” She is even more nervous now as someone is yelling in the background.

“Yes of course, whats wrong?” Eduardo questions.

“They found us I don’t know how.” she sounds scared now “I have to go. Tell mama chila I love her and…” she pauses slightly “tell her to take care of my kids…”

The phone clicks and Eduardo not knowing what to make of this stands for a second listening to the dial tone. He hangs up the phone, puzzled by what just happened and sits back down to watch TV.

Sometimes I wonder what it must have taken to make that phone call. She must have known when she made the call she would never see her children again. I can’t even imagine what that must have been like.

That would be the last thing we ever herd from Ana. We never knew what happened to her after that and most likely we never will.

The Orphanage – By Nelson Roberto

When the gunfire stops a women lays dead face down in the door way. Two men have been shot as well. They lie slumped over rifles by there side. As the police go through the house I’m found crying in my crib. Next to me are two other girls. Social services is called in to deal with us. As I’m being as taken away a news paper photographer stops us to take a picture. One police officer is holding me while the male officer next her tries to get me to smile. It works. My face lights up in a happy little smile completely unaware of what has just happened and what is to come.

I’m taken to a private orphanage in Tegucigalpa Honduras. This will be my home for the next year. I will spend most of my days in a my crib straiting out of the window on the third floor of this clay building. I won’t learn how to walk or speak very well. I won’t eat very well either. But I will be fed.

During this time a notice is put into the paper asking anyone who might be missing a child to come forward and claim me. No one does, so six months after I arrive I am legally put up for adoption. I will wait another six month before I meet my parents.

It’s May 1980 and I have just turned two. My adoptive parents arrived in the country a few weeks earlier. Today we will meet for the first time.

My soon to be dad wakes up early and staring making coffee. My soon to be mom lays in bed a few more minuets for before joining him. They are tired from a long night of nervous sleep.

“What do you think he will looks like?”
“We will know very soon.” My mother replies.

They shower and dress quick anticipating what is to come.

My dad paces nervously waiting for the social worker to arrive. “Why do you think they wouldn’t let any picture be taken of him? Do you think might be something wrong with him that they don’t want us to know about?”

“I don’t know hunny we will see soon enough.”

“Where are they? They should have been here by now.” my dad says anxiously

“They will come try to relax” my mom replies trying to hide her own anxiety.

“I’m going to call to make sure” My dad hurries off to make the call. He return shortly. “She’s not home.” He reports disappointedly

Then the door bell rings. Finally the social worker has come to take them to the orphanage.

As they arrive they are greeted by one of the staff members. Not wasting any time my dad asks. “What is he like?”

“Hes a sweet little boy but he will cry and cry if he is not fed first.” She answers shaking her head

“Oh?” my mom inquires.

“Don’t worry hes really nice” she replies quickly “but he doesn’t talk much. He only knows how to say agua. That means water and he says it when hes hungry or when he needs anything else.”

As they walk through the rooms filled with cribs, some of the children poke their heads up to see the visitors.

“I wonder if we could adopt more than one.” My dad wonders aloud.

“Here we are.” The staff member stops at the last crib on the third floor. “Oh and one more thing…” she says as a smile crosses her face “he really loves Coke.”

This is the moment my had parents been waiting for. As they approach the crib they see me lying down in a cloth diaper and an old t-shirt. I look up with a blank expression on my face not knowing what to expect.

My mom hands me a Paddington bear with a blue raincoat and red hat. I play with it curiously. Its the first stuffed animal I’ve ever had. They pick me up and hold me. I’m not sure what to make of this. They takes turns holding me and playing my with long curly brown hair. But now they must leave to finalize the adoption.

They put me back in the crib and say good bye. They will be back for me tomorrow once it is official. As they drive away I watch from my window, holding my Paddington close, wondering who are these people and if I’ll ever see them again.

Being Adopted – By Nelson/Roberto

I think adoption is one of the most wonderful and at the same time one of the most difficult things I have experienced in my life. The joy of adoption can best be described by the quote that begins this blog.

Losing ones family obliges us to find ones family. Not always the family that is our blood but the family that can become our blood.

However, no matter how great my adoptive parents have been, growing up as an adopted child was not always easy. The most difficult emotion I have ever had to deal with was the uncertainty that came from being adopted. I imagine that most if not all adopted persons go through a similar experience sometime during their life.

Perhaps in my case these feelings might have been harder to deal with. For my parents did not even know birthday never mind how I came to be adopted. Today I could not imagine my life without my adopted family but back then having them was not enough.

There is just something about your birth-mother/birth-father that you can never forget or completely let go of. You want to know what they look like, if you look like them and what kind of people are they. But most importantly you want to know: Why was I given up?

To this question there is no easy answer. It is something that I struggled with and watched my friends struggle with. Some were more vocal than others but you just knew even the quiet ones were thinking about it too. You wonder how can the people who gave you life simply give you away? Well I’m sure it’s never that easy and I’m sure they never forget either.

I used to sit at night staring out of my window wishing I could just see my my mother. I thought if I could just see her, she would make everything better. These feelings never went away, no matter how hard I tried to fight or ignore them. But that all changed when I met my birth family.

Being reunited with them was incredible to say the least. I went from not knowing my birthday to having three new siblings and a huge family that had been looking for me all along. It seamed to answer all my questions about who I was and if I looked like my parents (I’m practically a carbon copy of my father.)

However I feel like I am very lucky in this respect. I have herd a few stories of people who went looking for their birth parents only to find they had nothing in common and could not relate to each other. I wish I could say “Don’t worry one day you will find your birth parent too and everything will be alright” but I know that’s not always the case. Not every adoption story has such a happy ending.

In the end I wonder how much finding your birth parents really matters. Yes finding them did answer a lot of my questions and it did take away the awful feeling of uncertainty but I don’t think that’s what mattered most. I think what mattered the most was the family that we have became.

I hardly think of it as my adopted family and my birth family anymore. When people say “oh you found your real parents” I say no I found my birth parents. I don’t even like to make the distinction between them. I just like to think I have two sets of parents and one BIG family.

Family is more than just being related because sometimes even our own blood doesn’t treat us as they should. Family is about caring for people and loving them unconditionally. Family is what we found in them and what they found in us.

Not always the family that is is our blood but the family that can become our blood…

Iraq is the new El Salvador? – by Nelson/Roberto

This weekend I watched Salvador which is a movie about photo journalist Richard Boyle who travels to El Salvador during the begging of its Civil War. The movie depicted the violence surrounding the country at the time. It stars James Woods and was directed by Oliver Stone.

The movie takes place during the early 80’s. This was also around the same time that I was born and separated from my family.

On one side you have the right government forces who control most of the couturiers wealth. On the other you have the peasants and farmers of El Salvador who are supposedly getting help from communist countries.

I found my self drawing many parallels with the current war in Iraq. There is a very sobering scene about half way through the movie where Richard Boyle is arguing with the US military general. Boyle has just returned from the mountains of El Salvador where he has taken pictures of the guerrilla fighters. The general is drilling him for about the types of weapons that the guerrillas have. When he explains that they have simple rifles the general refuses to believe him claiming that “military intelligence” says that they have RPGs and other weapons supplied by communists.

This sounds all to familiar to me. I remember very clear George Bush making claims that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” and was being backed by terrorists nations. I think its sad really. Are we doomed to repeat our mistakes?

There is also a clip of Ronald Reagan talking about the communist terrorists and how they could take over Central America and then even north America. Once again this sounds all to familiar.

In El Salvador we funded the war because we were afraid of communists. We invaded Iraq because we were afraid of Terrorists. Honestly I think the only different between then and now is September 11th. Because of 9/11 congress allowed President Bush to lead us into a war we had no business starting. Thankfully congress did not let Regan invade El Salvador because it might be like Iraq is today. Even so it is still a very violent place to be and it might be getting worse.

Another interesting scene in the movie was when Boyle interviews the guerrillas. There was footage of them training. I can only wonder if this is what my father went through. They also mention and act out what was known as “the final offensive.” This was supposed to be the last big push by the rebels to take over the country. However it turned out to be just the beginning of a bloody 13 year war. My mother mentioned this in her last letter.

Overall it was a really good movie and I recommend if you are interested in El Salvador’s Civil War or want to see the parallels to Iraq that I mentioned.