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A Mother's Heart
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“Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.” — Corrie Ten Boom (The Hiding Place)

My birth mother raised my two older sisters and one brother, but placed me up for adoption at birth. From the first time my siblings and I met as adults, I felt outnumbered. Holding tightly onto my birth certificate, my brother informed me at the get-go, “You do know our father is not yours, right?” I couldn’t understand why sharing this unsettling premise with me was so important to him. No matter how much I wanted them to represent a whole part of me, it was too late for my brother to take back his callous words.

Looking at me with uncertainty in her eyes, my one sister, more like a mother to me, wasn’t so sure. I was definitely a spitting image of our late mother, but their father and I shared some similarities in our distinct looks as well. With a bear hug, she choked up and said, “I just don’t think daddy would have given up one of his own; we will make this up to you.”

My sister helped pay for an expensive blood test that proved my birth certificate is incorrect; the man’s name on the legal document was not my father’s after all. If only we could have just left the wrongs alone, I could have passed as his little girl. He wasn’t even alive to ask him in private to explain why his name was listed on my birth certificate. Feeling betrayed by the crushing truth, I moaned, “Oh, God, this hurts too much.”

After putting my heartaches aside, it only seemed right to go in and ask the courts to remove their dad’s name off my birth certificate. Noting I was visibly upset by her answer, the strictly, business-like woman standing behind the counter reiterated, “If your birth mother was married to the man on your birth certificate at the time of your conception, then by law, he is technically considered your father.”

No way, this can’t be true, I mumbled to myself while shaking my head in disbelief. “Great, I’ve had two adoptive father figures, as well as my “real” biological father all walk out of my life since I was born. And now I am supposed to just suck it up that my birth mother’s husband who signed the consent to give me away at birth is one more absent father.”

I wanted to grab that incorrect legal document out of the secretary’s hand and white-out the biological father’s name and say, “Here, I don’t want anybody’s name there.” Instead, feeling defeated I just looked at the innocent woman and said, “Thank you for your time,” as I tried to swallow my pride and walked away.

At this juncture, finding my birth father seemed like my only option in finding closure. I needed his help in persuading the courts to hopefully put his name on my birth certificate. But hearing the comforting words, “You belong to me,” was not how my journey would ultimately end. After leaving no stones unturned, I disappointingly learned that the man who was believed to be my biological father passed away just a few years before I began searching for him.

What I know to be “real” and constant through my life story is my loving husband and daughters, as well as my dear friends. I am blessed that they have continued to stay true, freely offering encouragement and solace through some difficult chapters. Over the years, I have even felt the arms of total strangers wrapping their words of kindness around me with big hugs. One of the most memorable responses I received was in my inquiry letter to see if small-town folks might know the identity of my mystery father. Calling long-distance, such a gentle-sounding voice shared with me that he was a 95-year old blind-man and had asked his wife to dial my phone number. Although he did not have any answers for me, I felt compassion in his words, “My wife and I just wanted you to know we care and are praying for you.”

It’s when life throws hard balls that I can see God standing up in the bleachers reminding me of His promises.

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23 Comments
  • Bridget says:

    JoAnne, you’ve been through so much and I pray that as you continue on with your search, you will experience kindness and support along the way.

    You know I’m standing in your corner… cheering and praying for you, always!

  • Glynn says:

    What a story you’ve shared here. The words reveal the pain. and yet I think we write because God knows someone else is going to find encouragement and perhaps some peace from what you’ve done here.

  • kathleen says:

    What a story. It’s not finished yet. I kept thinking of that song, “I Have a Maker”….by P. Baloche

  • Mary DeMuth says:

    What a beautifully written, painful post. I’m thankful God has sent other encouragers your way, but I know the wound of grieving fathers.

  • JoAnne,
    This is another wonderful example of your gift to us. You are loved by all who know you. You are not alone in your search for the truth. There will come a day when all the questions are answered.

  • Thank you so much for sharing your story. I agree that it makes no sense to put a man’s name on a birth certificate just because he happens to be married to the mother. Birth certificates should be factual records.

  • Val says:

    Hello my friend. A beautiful post as usual. God has given us all amazing gifts including your tender heart for those around you and his perfect love for you…for us all. His love for us is reflected in the lives that touch our hearts and those whose lives we touch as well. You have a beautiful reflection. I pray He will give you the desires of your heart.

  • Louise says:

    JoAnne I came this evening after reading your post on my blog. and I am so very glad I did. thank you for sharing your amazing story — and for lighting my path with your beauty. I am blessed to encounter you here.

    Blessings,

    Louise

  • Lorrie says:

    Wow oh wow, what a way with words! Thanks for sharing your story of kindness. Your quote by Corrie Ten Boom will bump around in my heart today…

  • kali says:

    Great story. I keep wondering why God makes us jump thru so many hoops. After all he was the one that made us so curious, ya know.
    If anyone can figure this all out, its you!!!

    Keep on movin & all of us will be by your side.

    Will be looking forward to the next chapter

    ;~)

    Kali

  • This made my heart ache.

    “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee. I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” Isaiah 43:1 (KJV)

    Our Dad says you belong to Him.

    I pray you are able to find some closure and some peace. Thank you for sharing this story. I’m glad I found you.

  • Lynn Mosher says:

    Aw, JoAnne! Every time I read about your plight, I cry! I cannot imagine the heartache you have experienced. I just want to be able to give you bunches of hugs. What a great gesture of kindness from that sweet old man! There are many who care deeply for you, dear one. I know it won’t replace the love of your father but we are here, to hold your hand, to lend an ear or a shoulder, and to pray fervently for your heart’s healing. Love from me…

  • JoAnne says:

    I love my cheering corner Bridget ; thanks for your prayers!

    Gynn, I am hoping somebody will read this and not feel alone in their own challenging journey.

    I’ve never heard of that song Kathleen; thanks for sharing; I will have to look it up!

  • JoAnne says:

    Mary, Thank you so much for your compliments about my post. I know I can learn a lot from you on how you leaned on God to get past the pain and heal the wounds. I am looking forward to reading your newest book, Thin Places.

    JoAnn, I appreciate your willingness to keep helping me with my search, great detective skills I must say to be able to sort through many lies and secrets. But from such a convoluted story, something wonderful did come from it…you and I became good friends :).

    Triona, I’ve been thinking about what you said. I believe it hurts more to have a man’s name on my bc that’s not my father than it would have been to have it left blank. For me, with so many other untruths about my adoption, it just added to the pain. I am sure it would have changed my approach in contacting my birth siblings.

  • JoAnne, I think I would feel the same way.

  • Thank you so much for sharing your story … It helps more than you might know.

  • JoAnne says:

    My best friend, Val, thank you always for your gentle reminders that Jesus is up in those bleachers. Our mutual love for writing brought together such a special friendship. I love you my writing buddy!

    Louise, thank you so much for stopping by. I enjoy reading your blog too :). Your words really touch my heart and show me a fresh new perspective on life.

    Lorrie, I love Corrie Ten Boom. I need to read her book again and be inspired :). I appreciated your kind words.

  • JoAnne says:

    Kali, You and I have certainly both jumped through a few hoops in our lives, but we are still smiling…this must be a good sign. Twitter is sure a great to way to start a fan club and cultivate wonderful, loving friendships. Thanks for believing in me and always show you care!

    Sandra, Glad to meet you too :). I am looking forward to visiting your blog. Thank you for the Bible verse and your prayers.

    Lynn, I feel your love my “dear friend.” There are just some people that we meet that their caring, encouraging words seem like they have been around for a lifetime.

  • JoAnne says:

    Your “fight plan” post just came at just the right time Russell. I finally figured out how to leave a comment. For some reason, I have to hit reply twice, but now I have it mastered :). Will be back again soon.

  • Val says:

    My Best Friend, Not only is He in the bleachers but He’s down there along side you as you run the race. And often he’s carrying you when you feel too exhausted to make it to the finish line.

  • I feel so extremely touched reading this today. Touched because when I read your stories you are bringing hope to someone else. Always walk in faith but never let go of hope in God. Faith many times is for now but hope is for later. It may be soon it may be later but this chapter of your life is not over because God is up to a wonderful ending for you. I truly believe that. God bless you JoAnne and your wonderful heart!

  • S. Etole says:

    my mother heart embraces you even now …

  • JoAnne, although you’ve shared your journey with me in bits and pieces, it was a joy to see that you’ve written it out in full. So many twists and turns, yet this line says it all:

    “It’s when life throws hard balls that I can see God standing up in the bleachers reminding me of His promises.”

    You’re a strong woman because the Lord has strengthened you. Not only that – he calls you by name. You belong to Him. Thank you for staying true to your convictions and true to His calling. You’re proof that with God by our side, we can maneuver any situation and come out ahead.

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  1. So sad, what a terrible experience. and I know it was only one of many for you. Love you friend!!!
  2. This fills me with sadness: “No child should have to continually try to make a parent love them.” What a tragedy that your mother was not able to accept love from you. My guess is that deep down, she didn’t feel lovable, and she had to cover that shameful fact up with a bunch of br…
  3. It’s insane that these findings were made but nothing was done about it. All these years later, you are still waiting for the wrongs to be righted.
  4. I love you❤
  5. I hope you are able to find more on the first chapters of your life. How twisty things became when people had to hide things…ugh. Sad.