Did you ever have an imaginary friend? What if your friend didn’t turn out to be imaginary at all? What if she turned out to be real? Well, mine did and this is the story.
When I was younger I wanted a sister so bad! I played with or talked about my imaginary friend as being my little sister. I was told by the adults that it was my imagination and when talking about it I was often hushed or dismissed.
Then it happened. I was in my mid-twenties when my mother came to me and confirmed what I always thought was imaginary or false memories. I did indeed have a sister and she was given up for adoption.
The story starts in the late sixties. The facts in the beginning were told to me by my mother who is sadly passed on now. She didn’t have an easy life and this was a particular difficult time for her. She was a very young mother of two whose husband (my father) was a marine deployed to Vietnam. While my father was overseas he went missing. My mother comes from a large family and instead of staying alone waiting for his return in another country she decided to come back to Canada during this time. Now, to protect the privacy of other’s involved in this part of the story I will save the details of how she became pregnant. She did make the difficult choice to put the baby up for adoption. My sister was adopted by a local family and had a happy life.
After my mother told me her story I couldn’t help but always have her on my mind. I thought about her quite a lot-Did she look like me, what was she like, was she happy, did our paths ever cross? In my early thirties while pregnant with my second son the urge to find out took over my thoughts daily and access to the internet became a common thing in most people’s households. Without my mother’s knowledge I started looking on adoption boards and sites with any stories of people looking for their birth families that had information similar to mine. I did decide to make a search post on one of these boards with the limited information I had. One night my mother called me saying she saw my post. I quickly pointed out that obviously she was interested in finding her too. With her permission and armed with more information I contacted Family and Children Services.
I don’t know how they do things now but back then this is how things were done. I submitted my name and info to a social worker who would input it into a database. If you do match up you exchanged letters with non-identifying information. When the social worker received a release of personal information then what followed is an exchange of emails and phone calls before a meeting can take place. The social worker was very blunt and made a point of letting me know it could take years if ever a match would happen. It was dependent on whether or not my sister had her information in the database as well. Well, three days later she called to say there was a match!
I was so excited to write my letter but more so to receive hers. In it, she mentioned she was an RN. I’m not the most patient person and since my sister-in-law is also a nurse I thought maybe something may ring a bell with her if I read the letter to her. It turns out my sister-in-law said she worked with someone who fit the information in her letter. I called the social worker to ask her if the name I had was hers and she said she couldn’t confirm it yet because she hadn’t received the release of info forms. I read between the lines and knew it was indeed my sister. A few moments later it was confirmed. My sister-in-law worked with my sister all along. It turned out there were several other “six degrees of separation” moments like this. Needless to say we basically disregarded the standard protocol and went straight to the reunion! This was the Spring of 2000.
At first it was a bit of a challenge for us to start to get to know each other. Since we lived far apart initially it was a long distance relationship for a while with some awkward visits. It’s taken a few years to get comfortable and grow our relationship. Although we were robbed of many memories sisters share of growing up together we are making them now! I look forward to the many more good times and memories we will have in the future! Real ones-not imaginary!!