After our mother died in June 1992, my sisters and I began to do what most families do after a death. We cried, we shared memories, and then we started to go through her things. While going through a secretarial I discovered a Bible that our Mom's brother had given her years ago. I remembered as a child looking at the pages of that Bible, but I didn’t recall seeing what I found in the back of the book. As some Bibles have, there was a place for marriages, births, and a family tree section. I noticed that our father’s name was written over white out, including the date and year. I also noticed under "births" an infant’s birth statistics including a name, Kendra Ann. Below the name a 1970 penny had been taped securely to the page. Mom used to collect 1970 pennies and give them to mission funds. I suddenly understood the reason for her collection; this child. Upon finding this entry I asked our dad who Kendra was, and if mom was married before. He became flustered and demanded that we put the book away. I did, but not without recording all the information first.
I looked in some registers for a few years, thinking I was looking for a baby that had passed away since Kendra didn’t weigh much at birth. Then in 1995, our dad called us girls home for an emergency meeting. I had a feeling that it was about Kendra. We got to the house and he laid the Bible on the kitchen table and asked us what we knew about the book. I asked if it was about the baby. He then said, “Your sister wants to meet you.” I didn’t know what to feel. We learned that she had found her birth information and called our Uncle, Mom’s brother, who didn’t know anything about the pregnancy. So our Uncle called Dad who confirmed the existence of another child. It seems that before Mom had met our father she had been dating another man. She became pregnant and upon hearing the news of the pregnancy this man left her. She placed the baby for adoption out of fear of what her father and other family members would say. She met our dad 5 months later. According to our Dad, Mom regretted placing her baby, but never wanted to hurt the adoptive family by trying to get her back.
Dad had our new sister's number and that night I called her. I was stunned when she answered the phone as she sounded just like my middle sister. I discovered that her name had been changed to Pam. We talked and found that we had a lot in common, including wedding anniversary; date and year. I had so many mixed emotions I didn’t know what to think or do. I suddenly felt out of place in my own family. I was no longer the oldest. I was no longer the first born of my mother. I questioned everything of my childhood, but I also started to understand so much more. Mom gave many hints and we never caught on. She would sometimes cry for no reason. And if watching something about adoptive reunions she would say, “Adopted children shouldn’t find their birth parents; they were placed for a reason.” Or “Kendra is one of my favorite names,” but not being able to explain why none of us were named Kendra. I called my best friend that night I first found out about Pam, it was probably 1 AM. My friend helped me understand that I was raised as the first born and that is who I am. Dad and I also had a talk before our meeting with Pam. We both had our doubts on meeting her, wondering what Mom would have wanted, wondering what Pam wanted.
We met Pam a few days later. My sisters and I were again caught off guard to see the maternal side of the family evidenced in Pam's looks. We went over photos, stories, and then went to our mother’s grave. That is one of my saddest memories; Pam crouched down over our mom’s tombstone, gently wiping her hands over her name and engraving of an angel. She missed meeting her by 3 years. We all often wonder if Mom had been alive if she would have allowed us to know about her or if the secret would live on.
Our meeting went well and we have a relationship with her to this day. Pam named her daughter Kendra. Pam grew up only 30 minutes from our home and still lives a short distance away with her family; husband, daughter, and son. Pam grew up in a nice family with brothers and an adopted sister. Her sister has since met her birth family, with a different outcome than our meeting. Something that is difficult for her sister to bear.
What made our reunion a success? I really don’t know. It could be luck, or a lack of expectations. I’m just glad to have met Pam and to have another connection to my mother. It does cause me sadness to think that my mother felt she had to hide that part of her life from us. I will never understand her reasons for placing her baby. I will never know if her fears of her father and family were valid. It is not my place to decide as then I would be judging her and I don’t. I only have love for her and for my new sister, Pam.