So after 37 long years…I have completed a journey that began before I was old enough to understand that I was even on one.
A few years ago I made a post about my birth mother (who I refer to as B-Mom) and the letter that she left with me when I was born. You can read about that action and get caught up here:
For years I had been on the fence on whether or not I would search for B-Mom or not.
There were so many factors to consider. What if she had a current family that did not know of my existance…it could be embarrassing for me to suddenly appear. What if she no longer cared? What if she was hooked on meth and lived under a bridge? What if she was no longer alive? What if she never thought about me any more?
In the end I had decided that most likely the fantasy of her where she was healthy, happy, and having a great life was better than the risk of finding her as a coked up junkie in some ally someplace. There are things that can never be undiscovered once discovered.
And so for thirty-seven years I rolled this way. But then…something happened.
My stepdaughter’s father decided, for no particularly good reason and seemingly at random, that he no longer wished to have a daughter. After I got over my initial shock at this revelation, and then the sensation that he should spend the final few moments of his life picking up his teeth with broken fingers (a feeling I still maintain to this day), I realized that I must adopt her. Not only did I owe the karma bank big time for lucking out in my own adoption to the Millsap family but also because I could not let a little girl be screwed over for life by the one jerk that should have had her back. Hell, I had been raising her for the last several years already, and I know better than most that blood does not a family make.
It was in this process that I discovered what things were like on the other side of the coin. This made me want to find B-Mom. I felt an overwhelming desire to thank her for what she did. I have had a good life, and I owed that to her. I knew very little. The letter that you can read in “The B-Mom Commandment” said that she was 17 at the time. I knew that I was born in Alamogordo, New Mexico. I looked up a listing of the graduating class of Alamogordo High for both 1977 and 1978.
I figured she had to have graduated in one of those years. I decided to look up every single one of those names on Facebook and send out a message. I mean really…how many pregnant teenage girls could have been running around a small town in New Mexico in the late 70’s. First…I changed my profile picture to this:
I had hoped that by making this my picture that the strangers who I was sending messages to would see that I was born in Alamogordo and that they would subsequently read my words. That picture was shared over 2100 times…wow. Two ladies did read my message and they worked very hard to help me find B-mom. One in particular, Julie Wehmeyer, put in a huge amount of effort on my behalf. To give you an idea…here is brief transcript of some of our correspondence. I can not stress how much my success in this venture hinged solely on this woman’s sense of good will.
Michael Millsap Hi Mrs. Wehmeyer, I was born in Alamogordo NM on August 28th, 1977. I’m searching for my birth mother (I have a letter from her that came with my paperwork saying she would like to meet me one day). She said in the letter that she was 17 two weeks when she found out she was pregnant with me. This makes me think that she was probably in the class of 77…or 78. I know this is a long shot, and I don’t usually bother strangers but if you remember a member of your class or the one ahead of you pregnant around that time that would be very helpful. Sadly she did not sign the letter so I do not have her name. My adopted name is Michael Millsap I was adopted by the Millsap family in Las Cruces. Thank you for your time and anything you can remember. I found you on a listing for the AHS class of 77 page.
I’m gonna go out on a limb and say Sherri Chappell. She was pregnant that summer (1977) and she gave the baby up (I don’t think she wanted to). The reason I know this is that I spoke with her mother that Spring and asked if we could give her a baby shower and her mom said no that it would upset her because she was giving the baby up. Sherri was an itty bitty thing and her boyfriend was not a big guy either. So if you are 6’4″ and a giant, probably not. But she was the only girl at that time that fits the profile.
Thank you so much. I’m 5’9..so maybe so
I don’t remember the dads name. But he was an Air Force family and I want to think he was probably about my height which would have been 59Has anyone given you that name before
Someone else mentioned it but I could not find her on Facebook. Did her family own a music store?
I believe so. Do you want me to make some phone calls?I grew up with sherry from elementary school. She was a year ahead of me. But I was good friends with the sister of one of her best friends.
A Merry Christmas Michael she wants your phone number she saw the letterNow you need to breathe—–
And just like that, one of the biggest mysteries of my life was answered by a completely awesome stranger that I had never met. B-Mom sent me a friend request on Facebook that I accepted but then found I could only stare at the computer monitor. Now what did I do? What the hell do I say? I could not do anything…I just waited.
And then she sent me a message.
I sent one back.
This was the way the relationship between mother and son danced around the awkwardness of nearly four missing decades and slowly found itself again.
Julie had sent her the link to “The B-Mom Commandment” so she was able to see the letter she had penned so long ago and knew for a fact who I was. I sent her an email to assure her that I was only searching to thank her and that I was in a good place and not needing anything from her. I had no doubt she was curious as to why, after all these years, I had decided to do this now.
Thankfully, she was interested in getting to know one another. Over the next few weeks with emails and phone calls we did just that.
For those of you who study psychology and are interested in “nature vs nurture” you might find this case interesting. I come from a very musical family it seems. There was a family band that B-Mom played drums for as a little girl, the family owned a music store. B-Mom traveled and sang in a country band. It would seem that B-Gramps (bwahahahahahaaha…i just came up with that…freaking awesome) was an accomplished musician and songwriter. I think she said he had a tune on the soundtrack to “Another 48 Hours.”
B-Mom uses “salty sailor speak” as she puts it. This sums up a great deal of my vocabulary.
I can see a resemblance to Kaydance in the pictures of her when she was younger. I seem to look a lot like my Uncle Bill.
She had remarried a nice man and has been with him for over twenty years, but never had anymore children of her own (though he had some from a previous marriage of his). B-Mom had just retired from the City of Albuquerque, and I was quite thankful to find that she was not living under a bridge shooting Meth into her nipples.—Note: I never asked whether or not she ever injected meth into her nipples, but I am suspecting that she did not. She is a classy lady and classy ladies do not mainline narcotics into their breasts.–
B-Mom and her husband were going on a cruise that was leaving and returning from Galveston. Upon their return she planned to stay in Houston an additional few days so we could meet face to face.
When the fateful day came to go to the airport and pick her up, I took with me everything that had been given to me the last time we parted company:
That is the original letter she wrote, and a small bible (I thought the state had thrown that into my stuff like some kind of bonus prize but it turned out that it was hers. One of the few things she had left after a fire had destroyed their home). The other paper came from my foster mother who watched over me until I did not die from my jacked up heart and got to go be a Millsap. –Interesting side note: I was unnamed. B-Mom called me “Child” in the letter, and the foster mom called me “Matthew.” I, of course, would later be named “Michael” by the Millsaps.
I needed her to see that I still had everything she had given me. That those things mattered. And that even though I never knew her, she also mattered. I needed her to know that the one thing she asked me to do “…Please be happy…” I had chased it with every fiber of my being. Every hour. Every day. I did not waste my life, my time, or her gift.
I saw her husband before I saw her (he is really tall and she is really short). There was a moment where both of us just kinda looked at each other in mild astonishment. But it was good. Mr. Hines shook my hand and left for his flight. Then B-Mom and I proceeded to get lost in the parking garage.
We spent the next few days really getting to spend some time together. It was so cool to get to have my first adult conversation with a blood relative. It was amazing how similar we are. I can’t even express how awesome of a person she turned out to be.
My Mom, who has been very supportive of my search for B-Mom, had a brief panic moment when I told her I was going to meet B-Mom. “Don’t forget you have a real Mom” she said. I could never forget that. I am lucky to have two real Moms. The next time I spoke to Mom she had collected herself and was O.K. I have no doubt that this was a very strange set of events for her too.
I dragged B-Mom to the studio with Chuck and Robert Lowe to work on Gathered In Darkness. She had a great time. I made sure she got to hang out with my brother, Austin, too. We did not even get to scratch the surface.
It was hard to see her leave. I never realized how much I had missed not having this connection until I got to experience it for a brief moment. It was kind of painful and coming from someone that usually does not find himself feeling things like that…it was a bit unsettling. I guess it was always there but if you don’t know any better then you don’t realize what is taking place.
We ate some breakfast the morning she left before taking her to the airport. She expressed that she would like to come back again if I did not mind. I told her jokingly that she did not get to leave me twice. It was at this moment that her face took on a very painful look and she said “I gave you away.” I told her she did what she had to do and she did the right thing.
After the plane left, I realized that she did not give me away. She gave me everything.
There have been a few life changing moments for me. Learning the bass, surviving my heart surgery, the death of my daughter, and…now…this. I am so happy to get a chance to include her in my life and the lives of my family.
Later on I would discover that the picture of me that I posted on Facebook holding the sign was first posted on her birthday. How cool is that.
Maybe we can sell the story to Lifetime. I could use another Stick.