Saturday, 30 April 2011

Give and Take

First we swapped photos. Then we swapped basic life info.

So more about me...I grew up in a very small town in Alberta. My parents weren't able to have bio kids, so they were thrilled to adopt me. They are now retired to BC. I'm an only child. They visit us often and always ask about future grandkids :)

I met Camille in 2005, and we had a brief relationship for about 4-5 months. (...)

I moved to Edmonton for university and met Nick. So here we stayed!



Hi Haley,

It nice to learn a bit more about you. Small towns probably have equal amounts of positive and negative aspects as far as growing up goes.

I grew up in Edmonton a few km from where Camille lived (sad to hear your contact with her was maybe not the best timing). I suppose the best way to describe me would be an average latch key kid from a single parent family; a little tougher of an upbringing than I would want for my kids, but there's no doubt its helped me be a better adult. I've been very fortunate to have been with the same company for 21 years, and have had many different roles in various divisions across Western Canada. Right now I am leading the continuous improvement efforts for the company across North America, it's a bit of travel, but it's a lot of fun and very challenging!

Thank you for contacting me (us), its nice to get to know you and learn about who you are.

Have a terrific day!


As much info as I write, that's what I get back. It seems so hard to share much in the emails because I'm still holding back, still trying to protect myself. 

Friday, 29 April 2011

The First Pictures

I sent my photos on Monday night and then I received the first photos from Kevin on Tuesday morning, while at work.

Hotmail does this thing where the photos are at the top of the email, in a preview mode, and then the email message is below. So I just opened the photos without reading the message.

The first photo was of my three siblings and, is that Kevin? Wow, if I'm being honest here, he looks really old for 45. But he looks very wait, that's Stuart McLean. Embarrassing mistake! Even if it was just in my head! I think I need to read the email message before I continue looking at these photos.

Hi Haley,

Here are a few photos of us, the first one is of Daniel, Amy, & Sarah with Stuart McLean of the Vinyl CafĂ© (CBC) when we got hauled up on stage. The next two are of my wife Linda and daughter Amy at a Christmas light show, then Dan & myself at same show. Wouldn’t be right if we didn’t have a photo of the dog in there…his name is Danny.


OK, I'll admit that I cried when I looked through the photos, but that's just between you and I. What a beautiful family. They look so friendly! Oh, the dog is adorable. I love dogs, and this one looks like a keeper. I quickly call the ladies I work with in to see the pictures. I'm pretty sure there are no dry eyes in the place.

This makes it feel more real. Up to now it's just been a few short words back and forth, meaningful yes, but just words. To see Kevin's face, to see my siblings, to see's overwhelming. I am completely ruined for the rest of the day. This starts a horrible decline in my efficiency.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The First Email

Message: to Kevin, from Haley: "I'm amazed too that FB could bring us together! My email address is ______________ maybe we could email back and forth a bit? I'd love to hear about you and your family."

When I contacted Camille, my biological mother, I wrote a letter to the 22 year old address that was listed in my adoption records. I gave my university dorm address (just a box number) as well as an email address in the hopes they would contact me. The first email I received from the Stewart family was from my biological grandfather. It was charming and heart-warming. I saved it to this day.

Here are two of my favourite lines:

"In the unhappy event that Camille decides not to meet you, I hope you'll keep that option open for us."
"I think I've stayed in the background about 22 years too long."

Whenever I feel the need to reminisce, I pull out my adoption folder and re-read some of the first emails I ever received from Camille and her father. My first email from Camille was warm and filled with the hope of a lasting relationship ("I have always wanted to know you"); my last email from her cut contact with me, seemingly permanently (You're not getting a quote from that one.).

Today I did a search of my email to find the first email from Kevin. Already there are over 50 emails from only two months of contact.

Here's the first one, sent moments after he received my Facebook message (above):

Hi Haley,

Sounds good. I use my work e-mail for pretty much everything…


Talk about leaving the ball in my court! So I pondered what Kevin would most like to know about me, and I decided the first thing I would want from my long-lost daughter would be a picture. I sent a wedding photo and a graduation photo. Afterwards I wondered if they would be seen with joyful eyes, or would they be a sad reminder of the things that have been missed.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

I love Facebook

Message, to Kevin from Haley “Oh that's good. I certainly don't want to cause any distress or discord in your relationship.” 

Ever the peacemaker, I am concerned solely about them at this point. I think it’s my way of pushing down the fear of rejection if I worry about them instead. I can’t bring myself to think about what may happen to me if this one goes south too. New father, new siblings, new mother-figure (what’s the right title for your bio-father’s wife? The first question that Google has failed to answer for me...), that’s 5 potential relationship losses. Would that be 5 times more painful than last time, or would it be exponentially more than that? Thank God that my brain has the sense not to dwell on these thoughts as Kevin’s reply breaks the spell.

Message, to Haley from Kevin “Thanks for that, I'm not too worried about that, who knows where it will lead? There will always be a few wrinkles, frankly I'm blown away we're having this conversation! I knew there was a reason I got Facebook!” 

Relief washes over me, it’s overwhelming. I still tear up reading that sentence, “I knew there was a reason I got Facebook.” I love Facebook. To think I’ve been flirting with Twitter. Twitter, we’re off.

Message, to Haley from Kevin “I appreciate the chat this morning, I'm about to head to work, perhaps you can consider where to go from here. I'm ok with whatever you'd prefer.” 

Where to go from here. Where is here? I am dumbstruck.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Lucy's Bad Teeth

I’m a bad dog-mother. I don’t brush my dog’s teeth like I’m supposed to; apparently ‘they say’ it should be done every day. Seriously, who does that? What convenient timing to have to drive my dog Lucy to the vet for a teeth cleaning while I’m waiting for an answer to “Does your wife know about me?” Now I’m thinking I should probably start brushing Lucy’s teeth every day. Especially so this doesn’t happen again at another crucial moment in a Facebook messaging flurry.

I have a new message, but I have to get Lucy in because I know if it’s not the answer I’m hoping for I may look teary-eyed like an extremely over-protective dog-parent who thinks her dog may keel over dead from having a teeth cleaning.

Lucy’s in. I quickly run back to the car, message is still waiting for me.

Message, to Haley from Kevin “Yes, she and I met in grade eight and were friends for many years prior to dating in our early twenties. I told her about your note to me a few days ago, and she is very positive, she has known since Camille and I were together.” 

Thank you Jesus! Would it have been a deal-breaker if she hadn’t known? I’m not sure. But it wouldn’t have been ideal, to say the least. I wonder what she’s like.

Monday, 25 April 2011

March 7

Message, to Haley from Kevin: “Your timing is right Haley, I think you found the right person.. Not sure where to go from here, perhaps you could let me know. Wow! Is right!” 

Where to go from here. I don’t know how to answer that. Where do you start after 27 years? 

Message, to Kevin from Haley: “I’m not really sure either! I’m married, live in Edmonton. No kids, just a dog.” 

What would you want to know about your long-lost daughter? I suppose that she’s somewhat normal and luckily (for the most part) I loosely fit in that category... 

Message, to Haley from Kevin: “I too am married, for 18 years, we have 3 kids, and a dog.. We live in BC, in the lower mainland.” 

What would you want to know about your long-lost father? That he’s a dog person. Phew. 

Wait, three kids? I have siblings! I’ve spent 27 years as an only child, this is a revolutionary thought to me. I finally get to be an older sister. Then, there’s the fear again, will I know how to be an older sister? Will I even get the opportunity? How could you ever own up to past indiscretions to your children? To your children...oh my gosh, what about his wife? Does she know?

Message, to Kevin from Haley “Three kids? That’s awesome! I don’t have any siblings. Does your wife know about me?” 

As I’m asking this question, I’m wondering if I really want to know the answer. If I’m still a secret after all these could I ask anyone to spring that news on their spouse. “So honey, you know how I used to go out with Camille...well there’s this other thing I neglected to mention...” Awkward. Awkward squared.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

March 6

7 weeks later...

Message, to Haley from Kevin: "Hi, yes, I do, or did. We went out for a few months.. I've got a couple ideas why you're asking?"

I already knew it was him; I had known since I saw his picture.

Message, to Kevin from Haley: "Well, she's my biological Mom."

I guess I wasn't beating around the bush. A far cry from my first hesitant and safe, 'where did you go to high school' message.

Message, to Haley from Kevin: "I'm likely the other half..."

Oh. my. gosh. Had I really known before? Maybe not. I think there were definitely doubts, because that phrase just about killed me. This is the point where all of those fears came rumbling back into my mind. It's been over five years since my short-lived reunion with my birth-mother. Can I really do this again? How many years of healing will this one take?

Message, to Kevin from Haley: "Wow! I've been looking for a while. Mostly just curious :) I was born in August 1983."

Was I being honest? I don't know. I was curious, but what was I really curious about?

Do I look like you? Do I speak like you? Did you ever want me?

Friday, 22 April 2011

January 16

Nearly 1 month later on January 16, 2011, I received my first response.

Message, to Haley from Kevin: "I went to Ainlay, graduated in 1983.."

I think I was in our family room when I received the notification on my phone. 27 years of life without my biological father. This is him. My first contact. My heart leapt. I replied back within seconds,

Message, to Kevin from Haley: "Do you have any idea why I may be asking about that?"

Ack! Why did I write that? I immediately felt foolish and added another message,

Message, to Kevin from Haley: "Maybe a better question is did you know a Camille Stewart?"

Ok, that was good. I was direct and there wasn't going to be a surprise as to where this was going. I waited for a response. Nothing. Half an hour went by, still nothing. Well, I thought, this guy is not on Facebook very often, it makes sense that he wouldn't hang around online to see if I replied back.

After about an hour of checking my phone to see if anything came in, I let it go. This is only by the grace of God, there's no doubt in my mind. I can be a very impatient person. I'm so conditioned to have instant responses from text messages or Facebook chats it's very difficult for me to wait for anything. Never mind wondering if Kevin had blocked me as soon as he had seen Camille's name. I don't recall having those thoughts cross my mind though. God wiped those fears from my mind, pushed the wondering away and let me go on without giving it a second thought.