“The Search”

Dear readers,

I don’t want to sound soppy, but every single person in life has a journey. Nobody has a perfect journey. If they do, they are a bit boring in my opinion. Highs and lows like a roller coaster and all that. What I love in my life are chance meetings with people who’ve gone through something tragic, and coming out the other side still smiling, or on a positive journey to find themselves. I went through quite a serious bout depression about 13 years ago which left me with suicidal thoughts, but I climbed out of it over time, and I now look back on it with pride of having escaped it. In my case, I was just lost and overwhelmed with life. But when I compare to other people’s experiences, it doesn’t seem that bad. My mother and father went through one hell of a time in their youth, but they raised a great family, had wonderful jobs and are now happily retired. They are a true inspiration.

Two years ago, through meeting friends of friends, I came across a fantastic guy who would like to be known by his initials JD. He was working for a US organisation with my Irish Catracha sister, Hazel. I met him a handful of times. As always in life, we run around in circles and we don’t always get to catch up as much as we want with friends, but whenever we did, we got on well and I thought he was a top bloke. I remember one of the first times I met him, he told me he was Guatemalan but his Spanish wasn’t great (no offense, mine was a bit rusty at the time as well!). It confused me a little, and I think he caught on to my confused face and told me that he was adopted when he was very young and was brought up in the USA. Even though there are many millions of cases like this, it always blows your mind. You can’t imagine the complexity of emotions that the person went through. But JD was always a friendly, positive person and was a good laugh, but I did have a feeling that he was on sort of journey to know himself and his background a lot more. He didn’t say anything. I just felt that. In a positive way of course, and I remembered telling myself that. I often wonder if this was telepathically transmitted to him. I hope it was anyway. It was at the back of my mind, and then today he decided to put the information of his search online. Having read it, I asked permission if I can put it on my blog to share with you. It is very moving, but one of courage as well. A wonderful journey.

JD said that if you are looking for your biological family in Guatemala and have any questions or would like to discuss his experience, feel free to leave me a comment and I will pass it on to him.
Special thank you to JD.

    The Search

I was adopted from Guatemala when I was four months old and grew up all of my life in the United States.” I have used this line countless times in my two years living and working in Central America. To the person asking the question,this is an explanation of why my skin is brown and my Spanish is different, but to me, it is an explanation of exactly why I am here, currently in the middle-of-nowhere Latin America.

I always knew I was adopted from Guatemala. I remember sitting at the kitchen table when my parents asked me if I would like to have a sister. I remember them leaving me at my grandparent’s house while they flew to Guatemala to pick her up. I remember, one of those photo memories, when my grandparents took me home and my sister was there playing on a light yellow blanket on the living room floor.

My parents cultivated a Mayan pride in my sister and I by making sure we watched all of the TV specials about the Maya on PBS and by collecting all of the National Geographic magazines with Maya articles. I had a hand-made doll and a Tikal t-shirt as souvenirs from Guatemala.

I understood I was Guatemalan, and yet, for almost seventeen years of my life, I never considered or questioned my roots. People used to ask me if I ever wondered about my biological parents and I would tell them, “No, my parents are my parents. I don’t think about it.” And I didn’t think about it, at least not until one night when a friend, who oddly enough is much more like a second mother, planted a seed that changed it all.

I always thought finding my biological mother was about me – about finding some sense of closure – until that night when my friend said, “Maybe she wants to know you are all right. That she made the right choice.” It hit home with me,mostly, I think, because I could infer by her tone and the look on her face that she had given up a child for adoption and wanted to know that she had made the right choice.

I never fault my biological mother for giving me up for adoption. I grew up in a wonderful safe home and had a childhood full of mystery books, Sesame Street, Legos,and countless other adventures and opportunities, not to mention good medical care and sufficient nutrition. In undergrad, I read a UN report that cited 1984, the year of my birth, as the year with the highest number of deaths,murders and disappearances, during the Guatemalan civil war. Now that I live in Latin America, I am intimately familiar with the poverty and hardship from which my mother’s decision spared me. Her choice to give me up was just a choice, one that I understand and for which I am grateful.

I have often thought about meeting my mother since the seed was planted twelve years ago. You could even say my life revolved around the realization of that dream. In some way or another, my pastimes, studies, and career moves were all directed at gaining the skills and abilities that would allow me to get on a plane to Guatemala and start searching. When I accepted a job that required I move to Honduras, I knew I was close – literally a country away.

In 2013, I made monumental progress toward the goal of finding my mother when I visited the orphanage that handled my adoption in Guatemala. Through the wonders of Google I was able to place a call, send an email, ride some rickety buses, and before I knew it, I was sitting in a room at the Agua Viva Children’s Home in Chimaltenango, Guatemala with a folder of documents I had never seen before spread out in front of me.

I have seven siblings – three half brothers, three half sisters, and a full brother who is only a year and six months older than I am. My mother gave me up for adoption when she was thirty-three years old. She was illiterate. She had been married and her husband passed away leaving her with five mouths to feed.Her next husband left her and went to the US. My father was abusive, alcoholic,and provided no economic assistance.

My mother left my father while she was eight months pregnant with me, taking my seven siblings with her. She did not have a place to stay. She found work in tortilla factories, earning less than $1 a day. They moved around a lot, went hungry, and slept on floors.

Soon after leaving, my mother contracted malaria and was hospitalized. This is how Agua Viva, the children’s home, became involved and how this story, my story,came to be. The documents explain that Agua Viva cared for her in the days following the birth, and saw to my sibling’s temporary placement into several homes while she decided what to do in the future. One of her decisions was to give me up for adoption and the chance for a better life.

I obtained a wealth of identifying information for my mother, my siblings, even my father,who I had never before considered finding. I have the names of the towns where my mother and father are from. Unfortunately, I do not have anyone’s national ID number, the one key that could unlock the puzzle of their current location.

I only had five days in Guatemala on that trip. I had come so much closer, yet I had to leave before I could follow-up on all of my newly acquired leads.

At this point, August 2014, there is really only one thing left to do. I made my decision two weeks ago.
I am going to Guatemala to find my family, to dedicate myself to the search until it reaches an end. It could take time – time standing in lines to deal with bureaucracy, time riding on buses, time visiting my parent’s towns. Or maybe it will take no time at all. Maybe the search will end with me laying a lily on a gravestone. Either way, I am not stopping until I know that I have given it my best effort.

When I find my mother, if she is still alive, I am not going to barge in to her life.I am going to send her a note asking if she would like to meet me. I hope she says yes, but if she says no, well, then she says no.

I do not have the expectation of tearful greetings and warm hugs. That could happen,but the experience could also be quite sad. Even if she is happy to see me,perhaps it will be a painful reminder of the difficult past.

I am not going to ask my mother why she did it, why she gave me up. I have a good idea about why she made that decision. I am going to ask about her life after1984. I will tell her about Pinckneyville, where I grew up, about my first visit to Guatemala, about going to grad school in New York, and about my latest work and travels. More importantly, I will tell her how I spent the last twelve years wondering about and planning to find her.

After the potential meeting, that imagined first conversation, lies an unknown. I can imagine events that could happen, but I have no idea. The possibilities are limitless. Maybe I will leave the encounter having met brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and an entire family I never knew existed. Maybe we will part ways with a hug and no plans to meet again.

The amazing thing is, in less than a month, I am going to Guatemala to find out. I have a place to stay, contact with an attorney, a search plan, and a page full of addresses and leads to follow. My story will no longer be centered on my birth and adoption from Guatemala, nor on my perpetual journey to find my biological mother. With all good fortune and a blessing from the stars, I am writing the final chapters of that story, and in a few short weeks, a new story will begin– the story of my life after having met my biological mother.

End

JD said that if you are looking for your biological family in Guatemala and have any questions or would like to discuss his experience, feel free to leave me a comment and I will pass it on to him.

About Nicholas Rogers

I am an English journalist/copywriter living in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and I have been here since 2011. I originally came to work with Casa Alianza, which supports street kids and vulnerable youths. I then stayed on, after meeting Pamela Cruz Lozano, who calls me her adopted Catracho. I work freelance journalism and I have my own translation business. Why did I come here? For the challenge, to open my mind and get out of my comfort zone. I love literature and I've written a book with street kids. I write novels, short stories and poetry, all of which you will find on this blog, as well as a lot of information about Honduras. View all posts by Nicholas Rogers

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