It's funny. I was just thinking about how I could very well get some interesting parallels from this cute little fish story. The difference is, instead of being the little fish that got caught and swept away, I was kind of the little fish that got sent to a new home to live with a new family, but didn't know it until much, much later. So in essence, I'm the one that goes searching. And yes, I found Kimo. That's my brother.
I have to give credit to Charlie. He's been the one encouraging me all these years to try to locate my family. He's known the pain of not knowing where I came from. He's been with me over the years as I struggled to fill gaps in my life. He's been the abiding strength when I've been WAY too afraid to step out and search. I'd tell him, "They gave me up like yesterdays newspaper, WHY on God's earth would I want to face rejection again?...what if they don't want me?...what if...what if...what if?" He's been there. So when I shared all of this with Kimo, he hugged Charlie and said "Thank you for giving me my sister."
I didn't set out to find Kimo. I was actually trying to find my parents. The number listed was for James E. I got James E. Only I got James E. Jr., and not James E. Sr. (my father). Kimo is Hawaiian for James. Turns out Kimo is the oldest of my siblings. There are 12 of us. I have discovered over the past weeks that many of the things I was told about my adoption were not quite fact. I wasn't unwanted. I wasn't unloved. And I certainly wasn't forgotten. At least not forgotten by my mother. BUT, I was a huge surprize to my siblings. They didn't know about me because my mother never talked about me. It was a painful secret that she kept to herself, all these years. And the ones that were older than me were simply too young to remember that there was a "missing" baby.
Kimo has been the pace setter. He was the one that called all the family back in Hawaii and broke the news to my parents that I had contacted him. He gave my mother my number, and she called me the next day. When he returned my call to verify that I was indeed his sister, we cried together on the phone. It's been like that ever since. As the days progressed, I was getting at least a phone call a day from brothers and sisters I never really knew existed. I had always thought there were only 6-8 of us. I had no idea. They opened their hearts to me. They WANTED to know me, my family, my life. I was someone who had a family of origin. I was someone who had a rich and colorful family history. I was someone who looked like someone. I belonged.
Kimo, his wife Beth, and their two youngest children; Wai (17) and Josiah (15) came to visit us this past weekend. I was nervous, apprehensive, and a little bit scared. I knew I had no reason to be. But I always go back to that little voice in my head that says mean things like, "they won't like you cuz you're a big girl" or "they'll say, GOD you don't look like any of us!". Never would they do that...but I still have those destructive old tapes running. I was blown away that Kimo and his family drove for two days, from their home in Seattle, to come visit. The minute they pulled up in front of the house and Kimo jumped out of the car, he literally RAN to hug me. And when he hugs, you feel HUGGED! We held each other and wept. He said.."I love you, Sis" For the first time in my life, those words had impact. Beth is soft-spoken and wonderful. Wai is quiet and shy..but Averie and Caris had a way of drawing her out and they talked into the wee hours. Josiah and Bry; well, let's just say there was lots of punching, wrassling, and typical teenage boy antics. Kimo, Charlie, Beth, and I talked and talked and talked. They brought a huge bin full of photo albums and we shared back and forth. So many years to catch up on. So many stories to tell. How do you fit 40 plus years into 2 days? We tried.
Sunday came too quickly. We laughed until it hurt. We cried. We planned for future holidays and summer trips. He told me how happy everyone in Hawaii was that we were coming "home" to visit in July. He said to expect a HUGE crowd at the airport when we arrive. I was told there was so much more to learn that he was afraid that I might be overwhelmed. I assured him I was ready. Bring it on. I want to know everything. I want to know everyone.
Yes, everyone that we've shared this story with has told us that it's the stuff "Oprah" and "Dr. Phil" segments are made of. I'm just happy to give MY family (Charlie and the kids) the family that I've never had...until now. And the best part is, they want us as much as we want them.