His whole life, Marc* had always dreamed of meeting his birth mother. The first step would be to find her—but perhaps the hardest part would be getting the chance to tell her his truth.
*Names have been changed for privacy.
Marc was born in 1974 in Cook County, Illinois, and was adopted shortly after birth by two deeply loving parents.
Despite their many cultural and generational differences, Marc always shared a close bond with both of his adopted parents, but that bond was particularly strong with his mother. It wasn't until she died a few years ago that Marc really began to wonder about his biological origins. He longed to know his birth mother, to know her story, to know their story. He knew the journey wouldn't be easy—but he also knew there wasn't a single thing that had been easy about his life's journey so far. He was ready.
When Marc first reached out to us at BirthParentFinder.com, there was a rare calm about him. For what is so often an entirely nerve-wracking and emotional experience to search for one’s birth parents, Marc was the picture of balance and poise. (That's not to say he wasn't a ball of nerves on the inside!)
To this day he is one of the kindest, most sincerely polite people I have ever had the great joy of speaking with on the phone. That’s the thing about Marc: to get to know him is to be utterly filled with love.
There is something intangible, something magnanimously undefinable about sharing a space or breath or simply a conversation with someone who has triumphed over unimaginable pain. There exists a perceptible yet immeasurable grace, like an aura of strength enveloping them, more armor than battle scars, although both inhabit the same.
Through one’s suffering comes a quiet strength born from having conquered what no person should ever have to endure. An almost required resilience we are forced to develop, but for which, with time, we learn to be grateful.
When Marc told me his story both as an adoptee and as a transgender man, I immediately realized that these were the two least interesting things about him. In the way that they are two of the most obvious landmarks in his life, and of course indispensable elements of his identity, but rather in the way that being adopted and being transgender are not the two most memorable or consequential “facts” about a person. Much like lines on a resume so rarely do justice to the person they are so flatly attempting to capture.
Marc is a loving partner, son, brother, and friend. He is frightfully smart and disarmingly thoughtful. Apart from being a brilliant software engineer, Marc is also a devout Catholic and sings in his church choir. He is funny as hell and his friendship feels effortless. I so wanted to give Marc a happy ending with his birth mother, though I knew that it was beyond my, or Marc’s, control.
After a couple weeks of working Marc’s case using his 23andMe DNA test results, I had narrowed the search down to a group of siblings within the vast Italian-American family tree I had built for him. At this point, it was impossible to know if the side of Marc’s family tree I was working on represented his maternal or paternal lineage. In other words, I had no way of knowing if his mother or his father was one of the several siblings I had zeroed in on through DNA.
Marc understood this and asked amazingly insightful questions throughout the process. But it was what he did next that I will never forget.
Using the detailed information I had given him from the mountain of genetic genealogy research amassed thus far, Marc bravely reached out to one of his DNA matches himself and told him his story. Once again, I found myself moved by Marc's courage.
The DNA match discreetly inquired with a couple of close family members about the circumstances of Marc’s birth and quickly wrote back. Turns out, the DNA match is Marc’s great uncle. And in the message, he confirmed the identity of his birth mother—and gave Marc her phone number.
This was on a Friday. By the following Monday afternoon, Marc texted me a photo of his mom along with this message: “We talked for 2 hours last night!!!”
I called Marc immediately so he could tell me everything. He told me how his mother was just 15 when she had him. How she had so desperately wanted to keep him, but that because she was so young, her family had convinced her that adoption would give Marc the best possible life. Most of all, how she had never stopped thinking about Marc, not for one day, not for one single minute.
Marc told me how they cried together on the phone and how they planned to have many more conversations like this very soon.
“She said I have her eyebrows, nose and eyes," he wrote me. "I can’t believe this happened!”
I was so happy for Marc and anxious to hear how it went for him sharing with his mother about his transition. After all, her memory was of giving birth to a baby girl. And I knew that this was the one thing Marc felt most anxious about from the beginning.
“She seemed to accept the transgender thing. She even tried to use the male pronouns … She went back and forth but that’s so huge that she tried! I think she was surprised but I think she was just thankful to have found me.”
If I know one thing, it’s that no mother could ask for a better son than Marc. That is MY truth. I can speak from experience when I say that Marc is an true blessing to all who have the great fortune to know him.
And with that, we celebrate the start of #PrideMonth with another successful BirthParentFinder.com reunion!