Archive for July, 2014

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The Hook-Up.

July 7, 2014

October 12, 2012 I met my family in person. It began with my aunt and uncle. I then met my sister. Later that day I met half of Olean, NY and got to share it all with my longtime friend Lori (also an adoptee).

My sister has 7-kids. The day after we met I brought my wife and youngest son to meet everyone. That is when Sherry asked me to become the godfather to her two youngest children. I immediately agreed. For the first time in my life I had a sibling who wanted to be related to me. It felt great.

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Fears laid to rest.

July 7, 2014

I spoke to only one of two living people who ever knew about my existence. She embraced me immediately. I addressed her as Ms. Foster, she told me to call her “Aunt Shirley.” We chatted a long time. My new aunt put all of my anxieties to an immediate rest. She would handle announcing my return to the family so that everyone would know I was Kaye’s son. She would give the news to my sister the next morning.

One Ambien later I was asleep for the night. I spent Monday morning waiting for the phone call. I was not disappointed. First my aunt called me to tell me that my sister Sherry would be calling me a little later on that day. Once we got off the phone together an hour or so later I spoke to my sister for the very first time. We instantly fit in together.

Over the next several days one-by-one various Foster relatives messaged me, and sent me friend requests through Facebook. I scrutinized each one of their faces to look for similarities. I looked most like my cousin Carmel. When I actually was first stalking my family I had thought Carmel was my sister, as we do look a lot alike.

Within minutes of our introductions Sherry and I were instant friends. She added me on Facebook. We messaged each other for hours that day. By evening she had found a photo of our mom to share with me. I saw my moms face for the very first time. I could not stop looking at her.

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Reunion – October 2012

July 7, 2014

I was so distraught after realizing my mom was dead that I could not think of anything else that night. I sedated myself quite heavily, and slept for more than half-a-day. When I finally did crawl out-of-bed it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, someone among the Fosters might want to know about me? Did anyone know about me? Had anyone missed me? Did they know who my dad was? Did I have siblings? Cousins? Aunts? Uncles? That Saturday evening I once again hit the internet. What I discovered that night led to my reunion.

I didn’t know who was who, but I had a long list of “Fosters” who were connected with each other not only on one ancestral online database, but they also were connected with each other on Facebook. I was on the right trail. I wrote private messages to all of them. I had actually prepared for this moment. In my note I stated simply:

“Please forgive me for reaching out to contact you directly. We have never met, but I believe that I have some common people connections with you. I apologize in advance, but I need to ask you a few personal questions.

Have you ever met, or do you know of “Kathleen Marie Foster” who lived in Allegheny/Olean area? She was born in 1943, and passed away in 1995. Her parents were Eugene and Irene Foster. Kathleen had 13 siblings. She is someone I have a great need to learn more about. If you do not know her, is there a possibility you may know of someone who does?

Again, I am sorry to bother you, but this is extremely important information for me. Please let me know either way if these names are in anyway familiar to you or someone in your family?

Thank you, Jeff Hancock Adoptee, born April, 1965″

From that Saturday evening until late afternoon the next day I was sweating Crisco. Waiting for a response was the worse stress I’d ever felt. I was a nervous wreck to say the least. Late Sunday afternoon I got my first reply. It was from my cousin. We are actually related twice. She is a member of my adoptive fathers family as well as married to one of my first cousins in the Fosters. She had me call my Aunt and Uncle who then got me in touch with my mom’s sister; my Aunt Shirley.

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My Non-ID; October 2012.

July 7, 2014

As I dashed through the contents of my package I discovered that DSS had a new director, and that she played for keeps! This time we were on the same side! I had page after page of medical reports, foster care observation notes, details on my mom and dad, and even stuff on my aunts and uncles. I finally had an understanding of my origins. Due to my work schedule, I was unable to hit the internet for searching until Friday evening. It was on Wednesday that the package had arrived.

Complete euphoria is how I describe my feelings over that Wednesday. By Friday I was once again focused and determined to find my family. My greatest fears were realized. My mom, Kathleen Marie Foster, had died of cancer on October 23, 1995. She died 12-years before my adoption discovery. 17 1/2-years before I found her.

I somehow always knew she was dead. I have strong feelings that way sometimes. Also, I know I have an angel who watches me. Now I realize it is my mom. She visited me during my twilight sleep at Strong Hospital a few days after my surgery. She told me that my work was with adoptee rights. She also said that in time I would know everything. I couldn’t see her face, only her outline with a bright white aura completely surrounding her. Actually, I had attributed it to the morphine, but now I understand it was my mom’s spirit.

The feeling of loss overwhelmed me. It was 2:00 AM and I sat here staring at this computer monitor in shock, but not disbelief. Then it hit me. It hit harder than all the grief of my lifetime rolled together at once. The hurt. The sorrow, The sadness. I was exhausted. My mind and my body were numb. All of my hopes for reunion were gone just as fast as they appeared only 2-days before. As much as I was prepared for her death, finally realizing it sucked. I sat at my desk and cried the hardest I had ever cried before in my life. That night I took enough Ambien to tranquilize a draft horse. I needed sleep and rest. I needed something else, but I didn’t know what that “something” was. Whatever word is out there that is stronger than “devastated” that was me that early morning. I cried so hard that my entire body shook. I had never lost control over myself like that before. I hope never to again.

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October 3rd, 2012

July 7, 2014

This was the day that changed my life forever. It was like scoring the overtime goal that results in winning the Stanley Cup. It was the day that after 5 1/2 years of agony that I received my non-id information. It did not come without the toughest fight of my life. I was entitled to, but never received my non-id under the reign of DSS director Ms. Hill. For nearly 6-years I called, wrote, faxed… did all I could to enable their office to send me whatever scraps of information their files might have on me. Assuring me that I would receive it “soon” it was not until late September 2012 that I discovered the retirement of the DSS chief. I got angry. Using my rage positively I got busy. In a few days this resulted in my non-id.

When it arrived it did not seem real, but weird like a dream with no purpose. I couldn’t make myself open it at first. All I could do was stare at the package. It had been withheld from me for so long that I actually was unable to recognize that it was finally mine. In an instant I ripped it completely open. The contents were more than I had hoped for in my wildest dreams.

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My Long Overdue Tuneup: Winter 2012-Summer 2014

July 7, 2014

My last major update was 3 months after major surgery on my spinal cord/column. It has been 3-years since then, and there has not been much more to report on. One month ago I passed the three-year-mark for physical therapy treatments. I still have issues balancing without falling over and I have developed weakness in my leg muscles. I am taking this summer off from P.T. in the interest of saving money and spending more time outside on the yard and garden.

Winter 2012 sucked. I was jobless without benefits. If it hadn’t been for tutoring we would have frozen and starved. I was then, and still am today, embittered over how the brain trust of St. Agnes School kicked me to the curb during our greatest time of need. 26-years of dedicated service as a teacher flushed down the shitter with the wink of an eye. I never did receive the back-pay I was entitled to. The loss of my income from that school dug a hole for me financially that I am still climbing out of. I was a complete sucker for the 26 years I taught in Catholic Schools.

SUMMER 2012 had its ups and downs. The ups in sequential order are:

1) June 22, 2012 – Joining my friends John, Kara, and the members of RIARG for the cookout to celebrate the passage of their bill into law restoring adoptee access to their OBC’s. It was a wicked good weekend!

2) July 20th, 2012 – Photographing my friend Lori’s wedding.

3) August 6th, 2012 – The ARC Protest in Chicago. Seeing familiar friends while also meeting new ones was the best thing to have happened to me in two years. It was a great trip and a great rally.

The downs:

1) July 16th, 2012 – The loss of our pet bunny, Jewel.

2) July 20th, 2012 – Following one-week later – the loss of my adoptive mom.

My older sister couldn’t be more guilty of killing her if she had she our mom herself.mMy sister had minor neck surgery. To make life easier on herself she sent our mom to our brothers in southern Ohio. I was against it from the start. We offered to take care of her, and make the 2-hour drive to bring her meals and do her laundry every other day. Mom refused. “Cindy says I have to do this, and it will make her happy” was the explanation she gave me each day on the phone. She left for the 10-hour drive on Friday morning. Saturday evening we were coming home from Lori’s wedding when we got the call that mom had been hospitalized. She was severely dehydrated and had stones blocking her pancreas. They were hydrating her and trying to get her blood pressure up so they could do surgery. It didn’t work and she died at 1:00 PM that Monday afternoon.

My sister, who was executor of our parents estate, seized the opportunity to block me out of the estate settlement. She went the whole distance, and was refusing to have a memorial service for mom. I went behind her back, and planned one with our mom’s church anyhow. There was backlash: I wasn’t allowed in our parents house to gather photographs for a slide show without having my sister and her husband standing directly over me. The entire time they bitched about how they had to watch me. *SIGH*

August 25th, 2012 – Mom’s memorial service. It was a hard fought battle that I won. It was short, not many people in attendance, but still it happened! After a brief graveside service, those in attendance reconvened at mom’s church for lunch. Prior to the luncheon was a 10-minute slide show. I had to use my “teacher voice” to get a small crowd of my sister’s rowdy ex-drinking buddies to shut their big mouths for the prayer and slideshow.

There was immediate pay back. Following the luncheon was the clearing out of mom’s house. My sister and her friends got first pick of everything mom had that was of any value. I had to fight to receive back only what I had given her over the years. In a way I’m glad it went that way. After the betrayal of my late discovery adoption I felt completely detached from my family. I left the only family I had ever known with as much as I came into this world with: nothing.

I ignored the phone every time caller ID showed it was my sister. She typically called only to tell me she was having trouble selling the house. No shit, it was a dump – even by Gowanda standards. Ironically the final sale price of the house was the exact same cost my parents paid for it in 1975.

I was excited to get my 1/3 of the estate. It was only a couple of thousand bucks. However, it was much needed considering my joblessness. I was able to fix up a few things around the house. The remainder went into numerous car repairs in 2013.

I would like to invite anyone who is interested to view the slide show I created in memory of mom’s life: