My Birth Mother Died Yesterday ~ 5/8/18

Even as I write that line in the subject of this blog post, I can not believe it to be true.

I found my Birth Mother on February 1, 2017.  I wrote about finding her after a 25 year search on my blog  Here  It has been an emotional roller coaster, with a few twists and some upside down turns.

As an adoptee, like many adoptees, I had created a narrative about my birth mother.  Who I thought she was (Carol Burnett), why I had been relinquished to be adopted, (she was too famous to keep me) and when I found her, what that would be like (fireworks, hugs, rushing into arms and a lifetime to catch up on, encircled in love).  These thoughts and fantasies, as far as I know from others who are adopted, are pretty normal.

My reality, I quickly learned, was not my fantasy.

For years, on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, I would celebrate Birth Mother’s day.  I would write a longing Facebook post about wanting to find her, sharing the little details that I had and hope, against hope, that I would one day, find the woman who brought me into the world.    I was 51 when I found her.  She was 79, and just a few days shy of 80.  It was nothing short of a miracle that I was able to find her,  and talk to her.

One thing I was able to see immediately, due to the miracle of Facebook, was I LOOK JUST LIKE MY BIRTH MOTHER. Having never looked like anyone, except my own children, this was an amazing feeling!!

See here – we are both in our mid 20’s – ish:


Soon after our initial phone call, she asked for no more contact.   I was devastated.

Then, she changed her mind, and invited met to her home.

In September of 2017. I was able to travel with my husband to visit her.   What was to be a short visit, ended up being 7 hours.  It was a day I shall never forget.   We were both shy, at first.  But after talking, and her sharing some info about how I “came to be,” we began to settle into the experience.  We watched a Western on the TV.  We shared a meal of burgers and fries.  She told me about her life growing up.  And, her life in Las Vegas, where I was born.

At one point, she invited me into her bedroom to look at pictures on her computer.  I won’t share what she said to me there, as it is sacred, but that time, sitting knee to knee with her in her room was what I had longed for my whole 51 years.  She reached over, and touched my hand.  In that MOMENT, it felt like my skin woke up and came alive for the first time.  I got weepy and felt so small, and child like next to her.  I liked how I felt and I cherish that memory.

We sat next to each other on the couch, took some pictures, most memorably this one of our hands side by side:   ( when I looked at this picture later, I lost air in my lungs! Our hands are exactly the same and we DID NOT pose them this way)  After I texted this picture to a dear friend, she replied, “You have your mama’s hands!”  How much I loved that text, I can’t even express!!


(I also like that our legs are touching)

I will forever be thankful for September 15, 2017 from noon til 7 pm.   Many questions were answered.

Since that day, we texted a few times, spoke 1 more time via telephone and never really re-connected.

I am not sad about this fact.  I am not upset.  I just accept that this was what she could do.   Do I wish it could have been more?  Sure.  Do I wish I could have known her for more of our lives?  Yep.  Do I think it would have healed my heart any differently? Not at all.  Am I still working out years of loss and hurt from being seperated from my mother? Yes.  Am I angry I was not kept?  No.  Am I still working through that small, unwanted feeling deep inside of me? Yes – daily, and in weekly therapy sessions.

There are many things about my reunion with Barb, my birth / first mother that I wish I could have changed.  Mostly that she would have remembered me; where I was born, what year, what day.  But, she didn’t.  I was a big secret.  I was her greatest shame (My word, not hers).  I was # 6 of 10 children.  A true middle child forgotten.  I may sound like I am having a pity party, but please know I am not.  I am stating facts.  And, sometimes, facts are pitiful and painful.

This is Barb in 1965, when she was pregnant with me:


Then, on 5/8/18, the story ended at 6:15 pm.  Barb passed away.   I knew this day was coming.  I accept that she has transitioned to, where I believe she is, in Heaven with her twin brother who died when they were little kids. I hope that her reunion with family was joyous.  I truly do.  Everyone deserves joy.  Even when life on earth was so hard.

Being adopted, I lost my mother at birth.  I was taken from her immediately.  I never forgot her or the idea of her.  I searched for 25 years.  I found her.  I lost her.  I found her again.  I feel like I have lost her over and over and over.  But now, I have lost her in this life, for good.

Being adopted, I lost my identity.  Being in reunion, I learned my story.   Being in adoption-trauma-healing-space, I am finding strength.

My heart is peaceful and my emotions are still numb and working themselves out.  I am a ball of emotional yarn, tangled up, and as I pull at the knots, and untangle the emotions, I find more of my authentic self.  It truly is like being on a Spiritual Journey to myself.  It takes COURAGE to walk the path of an adoptee.   I have met so many brave women and men along my journey, who walk with me, carry me and sometimes, kick me in the butt to get moving and not wallow.  For each and every one of them, I am so grateful.

I am thankful for my immediate family – husband and children who carry me and sustain me in humor and in love.  I am thankful for my biological extended family.  Brothers, cousins, a wonderful sister in Heaven and one on earth who fully accepts me.

And, one last picture.  This is my first mother and me the day we finally looked into each other’s eyes and she put her arm around my shoulder.

Barb, rest in power and peace.  See you on the other side.  Save me a seat. 


You will always be part of my heart.




5 thoughts on “My Birth Mother Died Yesterday ~ 5/8/18

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  1. I’m an adoptee that found her birthmother in 2002 and talked to her for 45 minutes then received a 5 page letter from her written in 3rd person saying some crazy off the wall stuff but also included to not contact her or anyone in her family EVER. Last year a cousin texted me to tell me that my birth grandmother passed away at 97. She was the one that made the decisions for her 19 year old daughter back in 1960 and told her to give me up. I cried so hard and was a mess….then I got a second text 5 days later…my brother (not sure if he’s half or full) died. He had gotten on a plane and went to a Metallica concert and on the plane ride home died in his sleep at 55 years old. I am still torn about how I feel about it all as I know one day I will receive a text about her passing away too. She won’t reveal birthfather info and is the last one alive that knows who is he, the secret will die with her as DNA tests show no close matches. When I found her I thought I was giving her a gift….I’m alive, I had wonderful parents that loved me so much and you did the right thing in the situation you were in so thank you for giving me life and instead I received her anger at me for messing up her life…she was still mad at me 42 years later. I don’t get any of it…she gave me up with Catholic Charities, insisted I be raised Catholic, a religion that teaches of the Lord and his giving his only son for the sins of the world but yet is a Catholic woman that doesn’t practice what she preaches. I don’t yet know how I will feel when I hear she has passed but I know I will grieve for the lost opportunity to meet her and get to know her here on Earth.

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Robyn Gobbel, LCSW

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