We are not separate or different from those born with a heritage they had knowledge of. . . and the freedom to investigate further if they so chose. Being denied information concerning myself is degrading and cruel, and I must fight the pain of not knowing every day of my life – and that pain becomes more intense as i get older. . . Not knowing affects me in my everyday life to the point of obsession. how long can I search the faces of strangers in the street. . . wondering at times convinced that I am looking upon the face of my mother or father, a sister or brother, aunt, uncle. . . a face I think looks like mine. . . before I can stand it no longer? What an invasion of humanity! to close up a human life in a vault somewhere and say, you may not know about yourself – you have not the right to even ask. . . your anxieties are neurotic, your curiosity unnatural. . .
Florence Fisher, Founder of ALMA
Everyone has a story, below is part of mine.
IN THE BEGINNING
I was born in Tulsa Oklahoma at 5:41 p.m. on February 16, 1970. I always knew this part of my life. And my parents always told me they took me home from the hospital 3 days after I was born. In fact we used to have a running joke of the picture the hospital took of me in their nursery, For some reason they had pulled all my hair up to a point and it looked like they had pulled it so tight my eyes were being pulled sideways. It never dawned on me that this was the only picture I have of me in the hospital. Looking back on it I guess this was my first clue because my dad is a semi-professional photographer and when my daughter was born he shot about 300 rolls of film inside a week.
I guess from there things were fairly normal, normal being a relative term. At the age of 8 we moved from Tulsa to a little town. This was for a couple of reasons: one, my parents wanted us to have a backyard, I guess 5 acres would count as a backyard. Second, I was having problems in school and they thought moving to a smaller town where the classes would be smaller might give me a better chance. Unfortunately this lead to the second clue.
Around this time my parent’s bought me my first computer. It was a TRS-80 Model III. I spent hours on that computer every day. Mainly playing games, but I was still learning basic computers skills in 1982. I had that computer up until a few years ago as well. But the computer was my second clue. I remember one day my dad asking me if I wanted to go to the tractor pulls. Tractor Pulls? What fun! Not! It was at this time the rift slowly started to grow, at least in my eyes. My family were metal workers and they always wanted me to learn the trade. I had no interest in it. I tried to show my parents where I saw the computer going and they saw no interest. I was feeling less and less a part of them. We had no common ground that I could find. They couldn’t understand what I was interested in. I wrote a short story and asked them to read it and tell me what they thought, they didn’t understand it. It was at this time I started questioning why I was different. I remember standing in a toy store screaming “You just don’t love me because I’m adopted!” I couldn’t tell you whether I did it to hurt them, or to see the response. I just don’t know anymore. But I shut everyone out. I wouldn’t let anyone get close and I told my parents, “You’ve never taken an active interest in my life, why should I share it with you now?” Looking back on it I realize that they just didn’t understand the technology and had problems communicating. While I didn’t want to take the time to show them. By god, they were my parents! They should have something in common with me! We couldn’t even agree about dinner. They’d ask what I wanted for dinner, I tell them, “Umm. . . how about Chinese I’ve always wanted to try that.” and they couldn’t eat anything but their standard meat and potatoes. I’m still trying to get them to try Chinese to this day.
At nineteen I ran away from home. People argue that at nineteen it’s not called running away. But that’s what I did. I saw a way out of what I perceived as a bad situation and I ran. Ran as far and as fast as I could, half way across the country to Florida. The funny thing is I had always wanted to live in Florida. My parents had taken our family to Florida for vacation several times and I remember standing on the beach at Daytona being about 8 or 10 and announcing to my dad that when I grew up I was going to move to Florida. I have never really understood why I wanted to move there. Maybe it was just something I was supposed to do.
Needless to say adult life wasn’t what I expected. I had always had everything given to me my entire life. All I had to say was “Ï want it.” And within a few days I’d have it. Now on my own I had to get a job and do things that I never had dreamed of doing for myself. But I loved it! Within a couple of months I found friends who I could talk to. Who understood the world as I saw it! Who were supportive and gave as well as took.
And then it happened. . .
There’s some very interesting people who live in Florida. Whether you choose to believe it or not, one of my friends seem to have some sort of psychic gift. One night we were all sitting around talking. And out of the blue she looks over at me and says, “Bryan, you know your not part of your family right?” Well, I say of course I’m not.. I’m living in Florida and they’re in Oklahoma. She got really serious then and said with a sense of urgency that I never saw in her again. “No.. You don’t understand! You are not FROM that family.” I just laughed and said that would explain a lot. At the time it didn’t make sense. She didn’t really know anything about my life in Oklahoma other than I moved from there. And that’s where my family lived. I did my best not to talk about them. I tried not to think about it. Then a couple of days later, it hit me. I’M ADOPTED!! Naw, couldn’t be. . . my parents would have told me by now. After all my cousins are adopted. They told me that. Surely they would have told me as well. But something kept gnawing in the back of my mind to call and get proof. Which I did. And my mother finally admitted that I was adopted. After 23 years I had the truth.
During that call it almost seemed our roles were reversed. She was the one in tears needing to be comforted and I was telling her it was okay. Towards the end she asked if I was Ok. But by then I was mad. I told her I was fine, don’t worry about it. Sure I was going to tell this person who lied to me for 23 years how I felt. This person who was upset that I found out the truth first and foremost. Then wanted to know if I was Ok. Sure mom, I’m fine.. I have no idea who I am now. Where I come from. My whole life has changed in a 2 second period. You’ve done nothing to prepare me for this. But I’m fine. I decided at that point in time wouldn’t talk to them about it. I would be self-sufficient. I had all my life. I’d deal. That was 1993 but I’m still dealing.
Won’t You Come Home?
During that first year I met someone who has been my greatest help. She’s always there to support me and help me. She even lets me think I’m getting away with things and she acts like she doesn’t know. So of course I married her. Luckily she recognizes most of my stunts for what they are and tries to help me work through them. I really don’t know what I’d do with out her and I sure don’t tell her that enough.
My wife had a daughter from a previous marriage so we had an instant family just add water. Then we learned Susan, my wife, was pregnant and I had just lost my job. So we decided for various reasons to move back to Oklahoma. It had been almost 6 years since I left and most of the old wounds had healed and new ones had taken their place.
The minute we reached Oklahoma I wanted to start my search. I had wanted to start since I first found out but it was near impossible to search in Oklahoma from Florida. But once I got back to Oklahoma I decided that I didn’t want to search while we were living with my parents. Actually, that’s a lie. We returned to Oklahoma in December 1994. My Mom’s father had raised me taken me everywhere he went and we were unseparatable. Until I moved to Florida. While I was away he had suffered a stroke and had various other problems. My parents however did the right thing and brought him to their house. When he had the stroke I had driven nonstop from Florida to Oklahoma nearly 19 hours. So afraid I wouldn’t make in time. The old coot hung on another 3 years. He just wanted to see me again. I told him it would have been cheaper and less stressful to just ask me to come back and visit. However in 1994 the doctors weren’t sure why he was still alive everyone still claims he was waiting for me to come home. My pregnant wife, our daughter and myself returned to stay in Oklahoma in time for Christmas that year. Grandpa and I talked nearly everyday about absolutely nothing. And then on January 9, 1995 the death watch started. He left this world January 10, 1995 and I still miss him.
With my grandfather dying I realized since that I felt rejected by one family. I didn’t want to give a second one reason to reject me. Also during that time I did my best to separate myself from my family. I felt once they learned I was searching that would be the end of it. So I wanted to end on my terms and I would reject them, not the other way around. I felt if I rejected them I could deal with it better. Funny how we justify stuff to ourselves.
April 19, 1995
This was a very bad day. Susan and I had made plans to sneak out of my parent’s house and drive to Oklahoma City to see the judge about my original birth certificate. Tulsa to Oklahoma City is about 2 hours we were planning on leaving at 6:30. We would have hit Oklahoma City around 8:30ish. Susan woke me up and asked if I was ready for the big day. I looked at her then at our unborn child that was less then 2 months from being born. I just shook my head and said “Today is not going to be a good day to be in OKC. Go back to sleep.” I wish I had known how right I had been. . . I wish I had known a way to tell someone what was running around at the edges of my mind but was elusive enough that I was unable to grab it. Of course this is going to be one of those days that I always remember similar to the day the Challenger exploded.
When I stopped to think that my pregnant wife and myself would have been in the middle of the chaos. The children who’s lives were violently stopped by an act of such violence. I was unable to gather the courage to journey to Oklahoma City for nearly 2 years.
June 7, 1995
Today my daughter was born. I’ll never forget this day for the rest of my life. I was in the delivery room with my wife. Deep down I didn’t want to be there. I don’t like the sight of blood, I hate pain. But Susan needed me, so there I was next to her trying to make her laugh as they pulled her liver out to get to the baby. I had known they were going to do a C-section all the long.. but when the Doctor told me I could stand and watch I felt I’d better stay seated, otherwise they’d might need to work on me after my head hit the floor. They pulled Katrina out of Susan and it seemed like an eternity before I heard that first scream. Then I started breathing again as well. After they had cleaned her off they gave her to me and whisked me out of the operating room while they put the pieces back in my wife. I remember walking back to the waiting room where my family was and looking down at her and thinking. I have a blood relative! Is it any wonder I’ve spoiled and pampered daddy’s girl?
February 14, 1997
Today we went to Oklahoma City and I learned I had a mother. For the first time since I learned I was adopted.. I have proof that I was really born by a human. Not in some lab, not found on a rocket from Krypton, and my father wasn’t Darth Vader so I doubt I’d grow up to be a Jedi Knight. Her name was Kathryn Kay Thompson according to the birth certificate. She was born in Arkansas and was 18 when I was born. She lived at a house in Tulsa. I also learned that the adoption wasn’t finalized until 12-16-70. And they (whoever they are) could have taken me away up until that time. I learned the names of the lawyers my parents went through. And that everything but the name of the parents were the same as on my amended birth certificate.
More than likely my mother wasn’t married at the time of my birth because the father is listed as unknown. So now whenever someone says I’m a bastard. I can ask them if they’d like me to give them proof. But the most important thing that I found this day was a piece of my mother. She had signed the birth certificate. So many things can be read into a signature. It didn’t look anything like mine, but I didn’t expect it to. But it did look. . . beautiful.
February 16, 1997
My birthday, oh what a great gift a mother would be to give myself.. A friend and I went to the main Library in Tulsa. Looking the address on the birth certificate up in city directory and old phone books, we found a listing that only appeared for around 6 months at that addressed for an Eldon Thompson.
Who is Eldon Thompson? Grandfather? Uncle? Cousin? Somehow Kathryn and Eldon are related. That means I’m related too! I have a third blood relative! Katrina, my 20 month old daughter; Kathryn; and Eldon! My Family Tree is growing!
We also looked the school districts up. If she was only 18 in February, then she may have been going to school in Tulsa! Strangely enough we would later discover that we looked in the wrong school yearbook. But in the school we looked in there was a Kathy Thompson. She only appears in one yearbook the 69/70, that fits! After I was born she must of went home! And she has the same features as I did at that age and I can see some of the features in my daughter! It’s got to be her! I have a picture! Even if it’s not her! It’s something to hold onto.
After we discovered Eldon’s name we searched the nation for a phone number. There was only 62 listed! Better odds! But none of them were the right person either. A lead dies…
The last thing we discovered was who owned the property where Kathryn stayed. When we contacted the woman she told us she had been renting the house for around 30 years. But didn’t have any records going back that far. Nor did she remember anyone by that name. Another lead dies…
February 19 – March 2 1997
I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. I’m mad at my parents because I know they have all the answers. Things they aren’t telling me. I snap at everybody and I’m looking for a fight. None of the leads are panning out. The school has no record of her, we can’t find this Eldon person, the hospital has the records but won’t release them. Something has got to give or someone is going to get hurt.
March 4, 1997
Why am I under so much stress? I have to get rid of some of it? I’m not going to be able to magically find my mother, my job isn’t going to go away, my family might but I don’t want it to. What’s left? I can’t stop the search, I HAVE TO KNOW! I’ll have to deal with some of the stress caused by the search. But how do I do that? By quit sneaking behind my parents back and tell them what’s going on.
I had come to that conclusion subconsciously because I though I was driving to the genealogical library. Imagine my surprise when I find myself 30 miles across town at my parents house! What am I doing here? I picked up all the folders that I was taking to the library. Are you nuts? Just back out and go home. Maybe no one saw you. I got out of the car and walked into the house and showed my mom what I’d done. I expected to be thrown out. But my mom wanted copies of everything! She wanted to help me! I felt the weight lift off of my shoulders and she understood!
The healing continues. . .
March 8, 1997
The school lead was a dead end. But why? No one remembered her. And I feel I’m missing something. A friend points out that I looked at the wrong school for that address. So I go back to the library and look again. Sure enough I was in the wrong district. I look in the right yearbook and I find a Kathryn Thompson! To weird. She went to the school from 10th grade through 12. That doesn’t make sense. Why can’t I find a phone for Eldon then except during that 6 months? Why would she move into a house for 6 months and go to the same school? What would that accomplish? I check another school that borders on the district. No Kathy Thompson.. My gut says I was right the first time. But none the less I copy the information down just to see if we can official eliminate her.
While looking at new schools I double check the first one and I find another listing for the Kathy that feels right. She was in the band!!
March 11, 1997
We finally tracked down the lawyers who handled the case. They’re dead and are no longer in business. They destroyed their records after 5 years anyway.
March 20, 1997
Finally tricked the hospital into giving us Kathryn’s date of birth. Now we should be able to get her birth certificate from Arkansas and maybe find out where she lived in Arkansas or the name of her parents that would help track her down! Her birthday was 1/7/52. That means she turned 18 just before I was born! I’m learning about her!!
A lead is born!!
March 21, 1997
Informed that Arkansas won’t look up a birth certificate without knowing a city the birth took place in.
A lead dies.
March 26, 1997
Somehow my wife managed to convince Arkansas to do a state wide search for Kathryn’s birth certificate!! It should be in the mail within 24 hours!! Why wouldn’t they do this in the first place?!
The lead lives on!!!
March 31, 1997
It came! It came! I have Kathryn’s birth certificate!!! I have my grandparent’s name! I have 2 new relatives! They were listed in Fort Smith. Maybe they’re still there! Both my grandparent’s middle name was Lee! My middle name is Lee! I have another coincidence. She had 2 older siblings! From one piece of paper I gained 4 relatives!
The first place I searched was the death index. I found 3 James Lee Thompson, my grandfather, listed in it. My guess was my grandfather was the one who passed on in 1960. That would have made it hard on the family and maybe on of the older children was named Eldon. That would explain the phone listing.
I also found DessaLee Woodard in the death index she passed on in 1982. I’m sorry that I never had a chance to met these people.. but their deaths have given me another lead.
We were finally able to track down the funeral home that handled Dessa’s arrangements. From there we were able to obtain a next of kin list: James Eldon Thompson, There’s the Eldon!; Sandra Myers, I have an aunt!; Florine Nees and Nona Boling list as Sisters! A whole mess of relatives! Now I just have to find them!
April 2, 1997
I’ve searched the Internet High and Low. I can’t find James, Sandra, Jeff, Teresa or Danny. I’ve even tried under Kathryn Smith in ND. I can’t find the city of Rapid Falls anywhere in the U.S.! I’ve even tried SD because of Souix Falls/Rapid City with no luck. They’ve got to be out there somewhere.
April 3, 1997
Found Nona Bolinglisted in the Social Security Death index today. She died in 92! It’s a fresher lead! Maybe I can find something in her Obit.
April 4, 1997
We found David Boling, Nona’s Son! He hasn’t talked to anyone on the Thompson side in 20+ years but he gave me Florine’s number! And the Obit from Dessa had Florine’s last name as Nees. It’s really Means! No wonder we couldn’t find them!
Folrine’s number has been disconnected. But I found a listing for a Nathen Means, who gave me a number for a Ron Means. Ron is Florine’s son! But Ron’s not home!! I left a message.
I talked to Ron, Florine passed away a few months ago. But he has Sandra’s number! He’s going to call her!
This was the longest wait I’ve ever gone through. Ron wasn’t able to get ahold of Sandra and didn’t want to give me her number. I went back and found a listing in Rudy for Myers! It was Sandra! She told me Kathryn lives in North Carolina Now! One Call Away!!
I called the number I had for Kathryn. A man answered. They said the weren’t interested! No! Let me talk! I called Sandra back and told her the truth of who I was. She was overjoyed! James Eldon died a few years ago. But now they have me and my kids. She’s going to call Kathryn and find out what the problem was with talking to me.
April 6, 1997
What a night! I realized I called the wrong number and didn’t talk to Kathryn’s husband Steve. Kathryn, mom, called me and we talked for 8+ hours. All the missing pieces just fell into place. My adopted mom talked to Kathryn and they were both in tears thanking each other. Kathryn is into science fiction, she’s a computer programmer, a writer, all the things that I had no idea where I got the skill and drive from. It was a wonderful night. I can’t wait to have a chance to meet her face to face and thank her for letting me have a chance at this wonderful thing called life.
April 7, 1997
For the past few years everyday had been a struggle. After talking to my Kathryn it just seems like everything is falling back into place. I no longer have this need, or anger, or frustration that I’ve felt for the last few years. Life’s a joy in a few hours it all changed. By talking to me, by saying she loved me and missed me, she gave me life for a second time.
September 9, 2000
Wow how did we get from 1997 to near the end of 2000? Well Bryan got lazy. . . Sort of. Of course some of this is hard to write. Some of it probabblydoesn’t need to be for public consumption. And some of it. . . Some of it is I know bothmy Adopted and Birth family has Internet Access and have visited this page since I won’t really talk about it. Believe it or not sometimes I worry about offending one of them.. of how they’ve been portrayed.. etc. Plus various things have happened in my life since that time and the web page just didn’t seem important. But a lot of this helps to write about. . . so I might as well throw it up here.
The first question I’m always asked by anyone who has read this page is usually “Have you met her?”
No I haven’t met her. Would I like to? Yes but various real world situations rear their ugly head and neither one of us have had a chance to travel. We normally talk once every 6-9 months. Why so long? Good question. I would love to talk to her every week if not more often. But every time I go to pick up that phone I feel like I’m intruding on her life. She doesn’t want to come between me and my adopted family so she doesn’t call me. And it’s very awkward on the phone. Not really sure what to call each other.. in the back of my head I wonder if she really wants to talk to me.. or if she wishes I’d never found her. Not that she’s ever given me any indication of feeling that way.. I just worry about.
Have I searched for my father? Well.. from as near as I can gather there’s only 3 people who know who the father was.. one was my grandmother who’s deceased. The other two are of course the birth father and birth mother. My birth mother will not tell me his name. She feels it would be unfair to tell me without informing him first. And she doesn’t want to talk to him ever again. Of course she says “I know that’s not fair for you.”
Not fair for me? No shit.. but tell me what in my life has ever been fair? Was it fair to decide where and whom I should life with within minutes of me being born? Was it fair to keep this information of who I am from me for 23 years? Is it fair that I feel like I can never met the woman who carried me for 9 months? Why should knowing where the other half of me comes from being any different?
My wife and I often have discussions about adoption/abortion. Every time one of these shows like Oprah, or Maury has a reunion I just want to gag. Better yet a movie of the week. Before I started my search I couldn’t watch them because of a depression it would cause. Now I can’t watch them because of the anger it causes. I used to think abortion was murder (and don’t get me started on the whole trimester thing). I used to wonder how people live with themselves. But there are days, sometimes weeks, sometimes longer that I feel I would have been better off being aborted. I’m sure some people are going to be shocked by that statement. But at least abortion is fairly quick when compared to 23 years of feeling outta step, outta place, lost and confused. Only to have your very being ripped from you in a few seconds. Then years of trying to cope with it putting yourself back together and knowing that your never going to fill in all the missing pieces and you have to walk around with a giant piece missing. I would prefer death some days.
August 11 2007
I never got a chance to meet my birth mom and we only talked on the phone less then a dozen times. Her name was KaythrenKay Thompson. She married a guy named Steve Smith who was in the air force. They were stationed in Italy for 8 years. Before we found her my wife and I had a daughter that we named Katraina (which is the italian version of Kathryn for those of you keeping score). My real
name is Bryan Lee Malone.
If Kattie had kept me she was going to name me James Lee. Both her parents middle names were Lee. We gave my daughter the middle name of Leigh to carry on my Lee. Again before we found my mother.
Tuesday July 31st 2007 while discussing heart problems with my wife’s father who was visiting from Florida. I started having chest pains. I chalked it up to gas. It went on until Friday with me eating rolaidslike candy. Saturday it stopped. But I was couldn’t sit up and Saturday/Sunday I slept around 32 hours both those days. Sunday night I woke up and started vomiting. I couldn’t keep water down.
July 14th I had my gall bladder removed so I thought it was part of that. Monday I went to see the Doctor that did the removal. They didn’t see anything wrong with my gut but did blood work. By 7:30 A.M. Wed. I hadn’t kept anything down in days and everytime I stood up I got sick. The blood work the doctor did didn’t see anything so we went to the hospital. At the hospital they did an EKG and said, “Hey! You had a heartattack.”
I’m like, “But I’m only 37!”
“Oh it doesn’t look bad most people show 50-75 in the blood stats you’re showing 3-4. But we’re going to admit you and do a heart cath. Maybe put some stints in.
Friday they do the heart cath and pull me right out. One arteries is 100 percent blocked. One is 90 percent one is 98 percent. and one is 50 percent. They’ve been given me Nitroand O2. Realistically they say I should be dead or should have died very soon if I had exerted my self.
To me this just proves what I’ve always said, “Heaven won’t take me and Hell’s afraid I’ll take over.”
My wife, Susan decided to call Kattie to let her know, It turns out she died about the time I started having chest pains on Tuesday. Heart problems run through my birth family. My Uncle dropped dead at 40, my aunt had her first heart attack at 43, and my mom. . . was 55. They had found her problem about 3 months ago but she decided that she needed to focus on work cause it was her busy season and would get the operation in a few months. She didn’t make it that long. I never got to meet her. I never learned the name of my birth father. I’ll always have this hole in my soul that I was denied access because it wouldn’t be fair to them. On top of that I had to have heart surgery to learn my birth mom died. Some say it was fate that I had the heart attack before it was a “major” issue and that she “warned” me. Maybe she did but it would have been nice for her to leave me a letter or something with my answer in it. Life isn’t fair.