“River of dreams”–thank you, Billy Joel

Lately I’ve been contemplating the flip side of my adoption coin. I’ve done some re-reading of my posts and started pondering what it was like for my father and brother when I first went to Vancouver, B.C. to meet them. What was it like for my family in Italy? What is it like now for my new family members in Ukraine?

It’s been nearly 38 years since I met my brother and father. I’ve been given different stories of how my brother found out about me. Initially I was told that one night, bored, my brother hit the floor in frustration telling his (my biological) parents that he wanted them to have another child. It was then that they supposedly revealed the truth.

Later, I was told that my brother was informed the year before I arrived that he had a full, biological brother living in America. This latter version makes more sense to me. I have a feeling that my brother was told because I was approaching 18 years of age and steps were being taken behind the scenes to prepare my brother for my eventual appearance.

It was a year later that I met him. And we all know the details behind that. Well, maybe some of you don’t. You’ll have to read the book!

I don’t think I’ve ever really sat down and pondered what my relatives in B.C. discussed or contemplated regarding my existence. I know that my aunt and cousin used to call each other on my birthday and wonder what I was doing and what I looked like.

I know that my father was concerned before I arrived that I would have a chip on my shoulder and demand to know why he didn’t fight to keep me. But that sentiment reflected more his frustration at not preventing my adoption.

I know that my relatives in Italy knew of me immediately. My father was honest with my grandfather in telling him that his girlfriend was adopting out his baby. My grandfather reacted as an Italian peasant farmer would–he cut my mother’s face out of any picture my father sent.

The family in Italy waited patiently to see if they would ever meet me. But what did they discuss prior to my visit? I knew my father and brother for nineteen years before we traveled to Italy. Initially, we were to go to Italy in 1990, right after I returned to Oregon from Southern California where I had been living for eight years.Were they excited about the prospect of me visiting?

My grandmother’s death threw a monkey wrench into the whole plan. It was another seven years before I finally went to Italy. And I have to say that, for me, I think it was worth the wait. My cousins were, by then, grown men, college graduates. I think it was easier to communicate and relate with them than it would have been had they still been in high school or college.

The biggest question is the new relatives I met in Ukraine from my mother’s side of the family. They were open with me in their shock that a man from America was searching for members of the “Bakun” family. I don’t believe my appearance will have a major impact on their lives, however. They are happy to know me. My cousin Zenovyi, 80 years old and spry as they come, is hoping that his son, Viktor will now have a “brother”.

I suppose mostly I just wonder what it was like for my father and brother before I came. I know of the excitement my brother must felt after being an only child. According to my aunt, he excitedly asked, “Is my brother really coming to visit”? I remember my father’s trepidation.

It’s only normal that they would have wondered what I would be like. After 38 years I should know all of this. But we only discussed it briefly over the decades.

Perhaps I’m just wondering about their expectations. Were they fulfilled? This is not something I obsess over as I mentioned above. It’s merely something that I began to wonder about. I think about their expectations.

I don’t even know what my expectations were of them. I know that I just hoped to forge a relationship with my father–well that fell flat on its face. And I hoped to establish a brother-brother relationship. The latter took decades, but it’s here and it’s one of the greatest blessings of my life.

I guess I wonder what everyone considered might come of my appearance. Were they considering a long-term relationship with me? If they weren’t, they were out of luck because I pressed. And I pressed big time. I was far too obtrusive. I realize that now.

I tried to be less obtrusive with my family in Italy. When I realized I was borderline worshipping them, I stepped back. They wondered what had gone wrong. Eventually, I had to explain to my cousin, Sergio, where I was coming from. He was touched.

The Ukraine relatives are more distant. They are the product of my maternal grandfather’s first marriage. But I still find them important. I see them, and the lives they’ve lived, as fascinating. But, there is more distance, physically and relationally. And, there won’t be the opportunities to create the memories and closeness. But there is still social media to keep in touch, along with my visits to Europe.

Could I be creating more questions to keep this adoption door open? I don’t know. More than anything, I think I’m reaching to fill space for this blog. This is only my second posting this month. No matter how hard I try, I just cannot find the motivation to write much anymore. There’s just not much left to say. I think that will change once life settles down for me. At that point, perhaps my mind will be freed up to flow like a river. Maybe a river of dreams?

 

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