I don't remember when I first heard about the state of Maine's adoption reunion registry. I have a vague idea that I may have originally read about it in a magazine, and a small window of possibility opened in my mind. The concept of a reunion registry is simple. If the parent registers and the adoptee registers, and the registry is able to make a match, they will send each party the other's identifying and contact information.
I was delighted to know that such a thing existed, but I tucked the information away in the "someday" file. Why? Because I loved holding the possibility that my original mother might have registered, and I was loathe to exchange that possibility for what I might discover: that she hadn't.
As it happened, I was able to learn the identity of my first mother without the registry's help; my adoptive mother, I eventually learned, had possessed that information all along (a circumstance that has never been satisfactorily explained) and was simply waiting for me to ask the right question. But even once I had the information, I didn't search. Why? Because I wasn't yet strong enough to handle the other possible outcome: that she wouldn't want to know me or have contact with me.
I was living on my own in a small, second floor apartment when I finally decided to send my application to the registry. I can't say with certainty what had changed for me; it was simply time. When the envelope arrived from the state of Maine, I knew immediately what was in it. I didn't make it into the apartment before I had the envelope opened. Sitting on the second floor landing outside the door to my apartment, I unfolded the single sheet of paper. And there it was: her name and address, and the date of her registration, a decade earlier. She had registered! She had been there waiting for me all along!
A bit more investigation would be required to uncover her current address, but within a few short weeks I would climb up those stairs once again, open the door, press play on the answering machine in my entryway, and hear her voice.
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