A Saturday spent with an extra-special group of folks: For a potluck, with some adoption reunion support on the side

Since birth, I’ve been part of a community that numbers millions upon millions — people who’ve either been adopted (me), lost their own biological children to adoption, or brought children into their families through adoption. It’s called the triad, and it’s made up of people of all ages, genders, races and ethnicities, nationalities and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Every person in the triad has a story that’s unique, that’s special, that tugs and tears at every heartstring. Their stories have a beginning — and so many, many chapters — but never an ending, especially for those who search for the children they gave up or the parent(s) who gave them up. Some of the stories are over-the-top happy, others are heartbreakingly sad, and many are a mix of the two, with every emotion in between.

The past few years, I’ve been blessed to be part of a wonderful group of triad members who’ve been there for one another — to help, to listen, to support, to give advice, to nudge or push along an often-perilous path … and to love.

It’s called Adoption Reunion of Texas – Reunion Support and is composed of adoptees and bio mothers across North Texas and some beyond. There are also a handful of men. It’s a group whose purpose is to lend support to those who are either searching for their long-lost biological children or parents, or have found them and are dealing with the emotional and relationship struggles that often accompany reunions.

Over the few years I’ve been a member, I’ve felt supported and loved, even though I’ve been a pretty sporadic meeting attendee. That doesn’t matter to these folks.

The pandemic screwed up our regular meeting schedule, so we did what so many others have done for work and personal connections — we met through Zoom for a while. When I started attending, we sometimes met at The Welcome Table Christian Church not five minutes from our house in SW Arlington — and that became my church home a little over a year ago.

Everything that’s shared in the group stays in the group, of course. But I wanted to share some photos of a wonderful holiday potluck we had this past Saturday at the beautiful Fort Worth childhood home of one of the members, Janice Finley Blakely. There were 11 of us (I was the one guy), and we dined on delicious dishes brought by everyone — even I did some rare cooking, making a batch of creamed corn from scratch that morning.

The ladies with me (from left) are Karen, Robyn, Martha, Mary, Jaclyn, Janet, Alicia, Connie, Betty and Janice, our wonderful host.

We spent a wonderful four-plus hours together, eating before sitting around the living room to share updates on our lives and reunion/search stories. Support groups really are a godsend, and this one has truly been one to literally hundreds of people who’ve been guided and supported by its members in so many ways.

Many of you know about my discovery of my three older full siblings 17 years ago and how I missed out on meeting our parents, who died in 1992 (Betty, lung cancer) and 1962 (Bob, drowning). You also may know that my main goal in searching for my roots was to find the mother who gave birth to me and how I longed to know her, having experienced a difficult childhood with my abusive, alcoholic adoptive mother, Olga.

December 20 will mark 30 years since cancer sadly took Betty at age 71. It’s amazing to think she would’ve turned 101 this past July.

I wasn’t sure how it would go over, but I decided Saturday morning that I’d bring some photos of Betty to the potluck to pass around the group in her honor. I’ve been told by others how much I look like her — including by my dear friend Karen, a birth mother and one of the group members who graciously Photoshopped a photo of Betty and me together a few years ago.

Top: Connie and Janice with me. Lower left: Karen and me. Lower right: Karen eating dessert with Koa (left) and Betty keeping her company. I still can’t believe Janice has a cat who shares my birth mother’s name!

After seeing the photos Saturday, several of the other ladies gushed the same, which touched my heart and made me feel proud. My sister Terry and I both look like Betty, and so much like each other. Terry, who’s six years and two months older than me, will turn 68 on December 19.

Happy holidays to all the wonderful members of this support group — whether we know each other or we don’t. You’re all special, and the privilege of being united with you as triad family supporting one another is something I’ll always cherish. ❤️

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