Story of Hope | Cyndi

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Cyndi was adopted when she was three months old. Her mom told her that the first time they saw her, she was a mess. She was sick and had a horrible runny nose. After seeing her, Cyndi’s brothers aged 5 and 6, immediately asked their parents, “Can we keep her? Is she ours?”

Cyndi always knew she was adopted, even before she really knew what that meant. She says, “I always felt I belonged to my family. I never felt like I was a part of them. I have wonderful parents and a great family. I had a great childhood and a good life. It has been a blessing.”

When she was 18, her parents gave her the non-identifying information. “I was very interested in finding my birth parents; part of it was that even though I looked like I belonged to my family, I didn’t look like anyone in particular. I didn’t have the same nose or eyes, or anything that I could point to and say I looked like them,” says Cyndi.

She contacted Catholic Charities and found that the records were sealed, making it impossible to facilitate a reunion at that time. Cyndi continued with life. She married, had a daughter, divorced, was a single mom for ten years, and then remarried in 2006. Her new husband encouraged her to try again to find her birth parents, so in 2007, Cyndi called Catholic Charities again and was put in contact with Sarah, a counselor with Life Connections. Sarah told her that the laws in Colorado had recently changed and that she would contact the birth parents and facilitate a reunion, as long as all parties were open to it. Cyndi says, “Sarah is a blessing. She was firm and honest, but always kind. She gave me a list of books to read, and I’m so glad she did because I was better prepared when things started happening. The books contained stories about what it was like to be an unwed mom at that time. It would have definitely been more difficult had I not read them.”

“Sarah located who she believed was my birth mom, but she did not want contact,” said Cyndi. “She asked if I wanted to find my birth dad, but the story I was told was that my birth mom got pregnant and the father left. I thought he was a big jerk, but I told Sarah to go ahead and try to find him. Just before Thanksgiving 2008, Sarah called to say, my birth dad, John, wanted contact. I agreed and received an email from him the next day with a picture of him and his parents.”

Although John never told his parents about the child he had fathered, he did share the information with his wife.  Sarah facilitated the initial exchange of information and the first phone call, which was a conference call with Sarah, Cyndi, John, and his wife. It lasted about an hour, and Cyndi was able to get more information about what had happened all those years ago. “John told me my birth mother had gotten pregnant and he had suggested getting married, but then she left town, and he never heard from her again.”

They started emailing, and Cyndi began learning about her birth family. She had two half-siblings, two step-sisters, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. John began telling the family about Cyndi, and his sister Jan immediately contacted her. Cyndi says, “We bonded instantly.”

That summer, Cyndi and her family visited her husband’s in-laws in Florida, which is also where John and his family live. They met in Orlando. Cyndi says, “It was nerve-racking. I was sitting in the car with my husband saying, ‘I can’t do this”.  Come to find out, John was doing the same thing with his wife.”

They did get up the nerve to go through with the meeting and according to Cyndi, “It was wonderful. He is the nicest man. He immediately started sending my kids birthday and Christmas Cards and welcomed us into the family. It was awesome!”

John said, “I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I didn’t know what Cyndi and her family expected. It was a true blessing. When we got ready to leave, Cyndi gave me a big hug that seemed to last forever. I didn’t know I would be that emotional, and when we left, my wife asked me if I wanted her to drive because I was having trouble seeing. I show pictures to everyone and share my story. I am very proud to call her my daughter.”

John was nervous about telling his parents. He thought they might be upset, being from a different generation. He was surprised and relieved when they welcomed this new addition to the family with open arms. Cyndi says, “I wrote them a letter, telling them all about myself. Grandpa wrote right back and sent pictures, and told me he was so happy to have me as part of the family. I had been thinking about going out to meet them but kept putting it off. Then in August 2012, Grandma passed away. At this point, I knew I had to get out there. I made arrangements to fly to Michigan, where they lived, and Aunt Jan met me at the airport, and we had dinner with my other aunt that evening so I could meet her. The next day, we went to see Grandpa. When I walked in and said, ‘Hi Grandpa,’ he said, ‘I would know you anywhere.’ It was the most natural thing in the world. I spent the next day and a half, sitting at his feet, listening to stories. It was life-changing. At one point, Aunt Jan took me into the kid’s bedroom, where there was a wall covered with pictures, and I thought, ‘This is my family.’ Before I left, Grandpa took me into his bedroom and had me pick out a piece of jewelry for my daughter and myself.”

John said, “These are the only things that dad has given away that were moms.”

Cyndi eventually asked John for her birth mom’s name, and he gave it to her, “Once I had that information, my husband was able to find her in five minutes on the internet. I wanted to contact her, but I knew she didn’t want contact. I knew I needed to talk to her but wanted to respect her life. But after the experience of meeting my grandfather, I knew I had to call. The conversation went like this:

Cyndi: ‘I just wanted to say I was born in 1969. Thank you for having me. I have a great life.’

Birth Mom: (laughing) ‘I don’t know what you are talking about.’

Cyndi: ‘John gave me your name. I found your sibling and other family members. When I first began looking, the records were sealed, so it was until recently that I was able to find you.’

Birth Mom: ‘Don’t you think the records were sealed for a reason? Thank you for calling. Have a nice day.'”

After this conversation, Cyndi notes, “It would be nice to have more, to have a relationship, but I am content to have said what I said to her. There is no longer an aching need to get that out. I have had no contact since, and I’m fine with it. I know that if I had given a child up, I would always wonder if they were happy if they had good parents. I just wanted her to know that.”

Through the whirlwind of a journey, Catholic Charities helped Cyndi with every step: “I don’t think it would have been the experience it was without Sarah. She made it safe, and I felt protected. John also said that Sarah was so protective of me. She guided us through the process and was just amazing.”

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