Thursday, March 5, 2015

Chapter 17: FORTUNE FAVORS THE BRAVE

I waited.  I waited some more.  24 hours went by.  Luckily, Facebook tells you when a message has been read.  It had not been read.  I went to my old standby, whitepages.com.  I found what was most likely Kym's number.  I called the number ( at what would be an appropriate hour in South Australia). No answer.  No message.  Day two came and went.  I called.  No answer.  No Facebook movement.
I wrote to my newly found cousins to commiserate.  They were supportive and reassuring.  Tricia offered that maybe she is on holiday and doesn't have access to Facebook.  They both encouraged me to "hang in there".  Three days went by.  I am not a patient person.  I decided to reach out to someone else.  My first instinct was to contact Serena.  Unfortunately something about her page settings didn't allow for contact of any kind.  I moved on to Melita.  I wrote a quick note that I was trying to get in touch with her Auntie Kym and would she mind nudging her to check her Facebook messages.  I payed another $1.04 and sent it on it's way.  Time marched on.  It was excrutiating.  I continued to research the family history to pass the time.  I checked Facebook an inordinate amount.
Finally, after a torturous 5 days, I decided to try another tactic.  I reached out to one of Kym's sons, Andrew.  He appeared to be in his early twenties and I guessed that he was probably a little more connected.  I wrote a quick note, paid Mark Zuckerberg and sent it.

"Andrew.  I'm trying to reach Kym Lynes (your mum?)  The phone number I have for her isn't working.  Would you give her a ring and ask her to check her Facebook messages?  Thanks, Julie"

Two hours went by.  Then.

"She rarely checks her Facebook.  What reason are you trying to call for?  I could let her know."

He was on line at that very moment.  Here we go.  How should I say this?

"I'm a relative from the U.S.  Just trying to connect."

"Relative.  What part of the family?"

"I'm a Brant.  It's all in the message."

"Brant?"

"Yes.  If you could just tell her that would be great"

"No worries.  I'll tell her now"

"Thanks so much."

Fifteen minutes went by.

"She says she has no message."

"Did she check her inbox?"

"Yes."

"Is she on a computer or phone?"

"Phone."

"Ok, I'll send it again."

This back and forth conversation with Andrew continued for an hour and a half.  Finally, around midnight my time, he told me that she just found my request and would respond soon.  Whew.  I fell asleep.
Kym and older son, Michael

At 4.35 AM I woke up and looked at my phone.  There was a message from Kym.

"Hi Julie.  I am in shock but it is really nice to know that I have a niece.  I will message you later about how we should approach this.  Right now I'm still trying to take it in. I just wanted to let you know that I received your message.  Malcolm has two other daughters, a son, and nine grandchildren. I will message you tomorrow.  Regards, Kym xx"

Hallelujah.  Victory.  That was the best possible response I could hope for.  She was welcoming but cautious; reverent, yet encouraging.  I quickly responded.

"Totally understood.  Yes, I know about Serena, Melita and Adrian. I did send Melita a similar message to the one I sent Andrew.  She hasn't seen it yet and I deleted it- but that doesn't necessarily mean that it was deleted from her inbox.  It just said that I was trying to contact you.  I did want to reach out to you first though.  It's 4.30 in the morning here but I just wanted to respond and I will wait to hear from you later.  Julie"

Knowing that I was on the cusp of my ultimate goal I somehow managed to go back to sleep.  The fact that I knew that I was one degree away from contact must have been somehow soothing.

I awaited Kym's response that entire day (June 7th)- but heard nothing back.  My mind kept jumping to scenarios of how this whole thing was going to go down.  Of course, there was the fear that he was going to deny me.  Or, perhaps Kym will have thought more about it and deemed it inappropriate to make contact.  I decided that she was just taking a little more time to process and gave it one more night.  I awoke on the 8th to an empty inbox and spent an angst ridden day trying to keep my anxiety at bay.  Finally, at around 6.30 pm I decided that I needed to take action.  I inboxed Kym again.

"Hi Kym.  I know you needed time to process all this, but I'm getting anxious.  Don't want to bug you, but what's happening?  Sorry, I've been anticipating this for almost thirty years.  Can't wait to hear back from you. Julie xx"

Despite hearing nothing for the rest of the day, I went to bed.  I managed to sleep- but awoke at 6.50. I ritualistically reached for my phone and accessed my inbox.  A message that had arrived at 1.58 am read-

"Hi Julie.  Great news.  I spoke to Malcolm and he did not know about you, but was surprised and excited to hear about you.  He said to send his phone number.  xxxxxxxxxx (mobile number) and xxxx xxxx (landline).  Need international digits with that.

Malcolm said you can come stay with him.  I think my brother is quite excited.xxxxx He is waiting for your call. xxxxx"

I was breathless.  I quickly responded to Kym.

"Just got this!  It's the middle of the night in Australia- so I will wait until later in the day.  Thank you so much.  I can't wait to meet you and my half-siblings!!"

I have often sang the praises of the Facebook universe- and I will continue to do so.  In a world where so many adoptees are denied all access to proof of their very existence- social networking has been a source of answers, connections and hope. So many people (even those of us that grew up in the 70's and 80's) are afraid of what Facebook could mean to their privacy.  While I understand their fears (sort of), it is so easy to limit the amount of accessibility strangers have to your "stuff".  I don't wish to deny anyone the choice not to connect-and many (myself included) feel that there is definitely an "over-sharing" problem in Social Media.  There is also the constant feeling that some people shouldn't be "allowed" to have their voices heard.  If you've ever taken the time to read "Youtube" comments you will understand what I mean.  Ultimately, I think that the positives far outweigh the negatives.  It it were not for Facebook I probably wouldn't be writing this right now.  I say, all hail Facebook.  Facebook is my "spirit animal".

I spent the first two thirds of June 9th, 2014 ruminating over what I should say to my Father.