Before you can attempt to find your roots in this thing called genealogy, you have to sort out some mess first. ~Frances Best Stanfield
It was November 2008 when I met my biological father. What it wasn’t was one of those airport meetings; talk show surprises; or even big hugs and tears. Instead, it was a meeting of the minds that was so graciously arranged by my aunt/cousin Mary. She hosted the occasion at her home in Spartanburg, S.C. and it was attended by me, my husband Reginald and my father Frank. On the drive up, Reginald told me, “any wrong moves during the meeting, all bets are off”. He was very protective from the start.
A Conversation With My Biological Father
We all arrived at Aunt Mary’s and Frank sat at the head of the table, I to the side and Reginald was quietly seated at the other head. I didn’t have any real expectations or specific questions I needed answered. It was enough to come face-to-face with the father I’d never met. He looked at me and I at him and we just started talking.
As I remember it, our conversation went back to the beginning when he was 17 or so. I learned from him that two women were pregnant at the same time. My mother with me and another woman with my half sister. I was born in May and she in January of the following year. As it were, my father went on to marry the other woman. Her name was Jymmie (may she continue to rest in peace). Prior to her death, I was so thankful to have met and spend some time with her. I would like to think that after our candid conversations, she came to accept me and the circumstances as best she could after all those years of secrecy and speculation. Further into the conversation with my father, it was revealed that he was asked to give up his parental rights to me. According to him, it was said to be the best decision because my mother had planned to be married and wanted me to be reared with a mother and father; hence, the adoption and my name sake “Best”.
Hearing from my father that he never forgot about me and always prayed for me and hoped that our paths would some day cross gave me comfort. I wasn’t resentful that he did not go out of his way to find me. He was told never to embark on such a venture and I believed him. I felt good in knowing that he tried calling a couple of instances during my life time as verified by my dear adoptive dad.
As things lightened up, we shared family pictures. I showed him his granddaughter and he shared his family pictures that included a sister, two brothers and two nephews.
Prior to our meeting Reginald had done some investigating and made a helpful list of the several aunts and uncles on my father’s side. As you can see, my father had too many brothers and sisters to count on one hand and all of whom are my aunts and uncles I had never met.
We didn’t talk too much about extended family. My goal was to tie together my life from birth to when my stepfather entered the scene around the age of 5. All considered, I learned what I needed to know on that day. My being was a result of young love. My adoption was manufactured such that I would never know that the father who raised me was not my biological father. We were destined to become a happy family.
As I digested my meeting with my biological father, my understanding of life events became clearer:
- I understand why my mother and I seemed to be the outsiders in the eyes of my step grandmother
- My mother and grandmother’s relationship was strained. It was clear that they didn’t like each other.
- The gap between between my birth and adoption is filled.
Of course there are always different sides to every story and there are still four more conversations that I had to have. Stay tuned….
In retrospect the visit was short enough, about 2 hours. In closing, we made plans to get together the following month during the Christmas holidays. It is where I met my other brothers, sister and three nephews. It was time for another conversation and more perspectives.
Have you tried to trace your roots?