‘One thing I am 100% certain of though. I would care about them’: Adopted brothers’ desperate search for twin sisters also given up for adoption

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“I’ve known I was adopted from a young age. I was four or five when my parents told me. It didn’t go over well at first. ‘I don’t want to be adopolated!’ (Yes, adopolated. I was 5) I told my mother, but any concerns soon passed, and it was like just before. My parents were my parents. My sister was my sister. Nothing had changed.

Courtesy Matt Shaw

I had a wonderful childhood. My parents were the most loving, supportive people you could ever know and as I grew older the whole adoption thing was just an afterthought. That is until about 10 years ago. My parents were visiting my wife and I for Thanksgiving. We were out for dinner and my mother casually mentioned to my wife that she actually had my original birth certificate with my birth mother’s name on it. My initial reaction was disinterest. As I said, I had a wonderful childhood, but my wife became greatly interested and began peppering my mother with questions. What else did she know about the adoption. Did she know anything else about my birth mom? Anything about my birth father. It was at this point I learned I had twin siblings.

It was a small Midwestern city, and it seems that a close friend of my mother had actually shared a hospital room with my birth mother and my birth mother had revealed she had already given up twins and now she was giving up me. She would give up one more just over a year later, but we’ll get to that.

I admit my curiosity was piqued but I wasn’t motivated. This knowledge ate at my wife though. She would ask me if I wasn’t curious? Didn’t I want to know the twins? What do you think happened? Who was your birth father? That last one got me. My father was a World War II vet. I served 4 years in the Air Force on active duty and 6 years in the reserves. I wondered, given the timing, if my father might have been a casualty in the Vietnam war. The more I thought about it the more it fit. I was conceived in 1971. By 1972 my birth mother had given me up and a set of twins. Clearly a tragedy must have happened. I was going to find out who my father was and once I knew his name I was going to D.C. and I was going to make a rubbing of his name from the memorial.

I hired a detective agency that specializes in reuniting adoptees with their birth parents. We had her full name and where she was born so It didn’t take long to find her and within a few days I had my birth mother’s phone number and address. I was nervous. I was excited. I didn’t know what to expect. The agency offered to reach out to her for me and I gladly accepted. A day or two went by and I didn’t hear anything, so I called the agency. They said they had reached her and while she had admitted to giving up the twins, she claimed that she had not given birth to a boy or given him up. They told her they had a copy of the birth certificate with her name on it, but she still denied my existence and so began a 3-year attempt to get her to admit that she was in fact my mother. I asked the agency if there could be some mistake, but they were certain she was in fact my mother.

I started by sending a letter. It was long, but it basically said that I believed she was my birth mother and that I wasn’t looking for her to be my mother or to disrupt her life in any way. I just wanted to know what my ancestry was, and I wanted to know who my father was. I also asked if I had twin siblings. I didn’t receive a reply. I would wait for months, not wanting to be pushy, and then send another letter. My wife sent letters and nothing.

This started in 2014. In 2017 two things changed. I took a DNA test and I remembered I had her number. Why it took so long for it to occur to me I don’t know. Maybe there was some indifference. Maybe I just forgot while trying not to scare her completely off during the letter campaign but for whatever reason I remembered I had it and towards the end of 2017 I started sending her text messages. I didn’t know if she was the person getting them, but I knew they were going through, so I kept it up and with each text something inside me changed. I never harbored any ill will towards this woman. After all, even though abortion was still illegal in 1972, there were ways around that and she could have chosen a very different outcome for me but even though I didn’t hold anything against her, with each text that I didn’t get a reply, I got a little angrier. And each text got slightly more aggressive.

‘I know you’re my mother. I have my birth certificate.’

‘I’m not looking for a mother, I just want some answers.’

‘What could possibly have been so horrible that you can’t acknowledge my existence?’

‘Was I a rape baby?’

‘Look! If you just don’t know who my father was, just tell me!’

‘Yes.’

I’d gotten a reply. She finally acknowledged that she was in fact my mother. She hadn’t responded because she couldn’t answer my biggest question. She has no idea who my father was. She had met him at a bar and consumed too much alcohol. Two months later. Surprise! Regardless of the fact she couldn’t answer my biggest question, I still had plenty of other questions and slowly she started answering them. Here and there. One or two at a time.

It was at this time that a major development occurred. I received a notification from Ancestry saying I had a close relative DNA match. My mother had told me that I had two brothers. One that had lived with her and then another son from another marriage that had failed and of course I knew about the twins, which I had learned were my sisters! I thought the DNA match had to be someone from my father’s side, so I anxiously messaged them to introduce myself. ‘Hi! My name’s Matt. I was adopted but Ancestry says we’re close relatives. I don’t know who my father was but I do know who my mother is.’ Ed was the match and he didn’t know who his father was either but he knew his mother’s name, and it was my birth mom. We messaged a few times and then we finally spoke on the phone. It was so surreal. I was speaking to someone I had never met, yet there was a sense of familiarity there that comes from knowing someone for years. I was speaking to my little brother. He’s a year and a month younger than me (although he’s a little taller and bigger than me so we can debate little) and it’s been an unexpected reaction for me. I was indifferent and then I instantly cared about him. I care about him. I care about his wife and his sons. I care about his farm and his animals. It’s a wonderful sensation. I had the opportunity to spend the day with him and his family at their farm in western Pennsylvania. It was beautiful and relaxing. I felt at home there.

But the reason for this story isn’t Ed and I. The real reason for this story is the twins. You see there was an unexpected consequence to Ed and I meeting. Ed had questions of his own and also reached out to our birth mother. Not surprisingly he didn’t get a reply. He tried several times and still didn’t get a response, so I reached out her on his behalf. The response I got was odd if not unexpected. It seems that having both of us reappear in her life was just too much. She had just lost her husband and that plus the two of us asking questions was too stressful for her. She confirmed who Ed’s father was, gave us some information about the twins and has not communicated with us since. She asked us not to contact our two other brothers. She is too embarrassed and guilty about her actions of 50 years ago to want to explain Ed and I to them (although in all honesty I had already reached out to them before she asked but we haven’t heard anything).

Ed and I are hoping to find the twins. What we learned from our birth mother is that they were born in 1968. They were adopted together by a friend of the family and the adoption would have been in or around the Elwood City, Pennsylvania, area. Ed and I both grew up around New Castle, Pennsylvania, which is just north of Elwood City so perhaps they were adopted there as well. Our birth mother’s name is Sally and according to what she told us, the twins know her and know her name.

Much the same way we weren’t looking to insert ourselves into Sally’s life, we aren’t looking to change the twins’ lives either. I don’t know what would come from finally meeting them. If they wanted to cultivate a relationship that would be wonderful. A casual friendship would be great. If they want us to leave them alone, so long as I would know they were ok, also fine. One thing I am 100% certain of though. I would care about them.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Matt Shaw, 46, Moncks Corner, South Carolina. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.

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