I had to be discreet, to say the least. What's worse than finding someone who may not want to be found is finding them and humiliating them. Then, you can be sure they won't speak to you. So I emailed the office email provided on the website and pretended to be a college student with questions in his field of expertise and "would he mind terribly if I was given his personal email to do so?" She was kind. She sent it on.
I sat there looking at his email address for a long time. It was so easy I could've guessed it, I told myself, laughing.
Without waiting too long though and causing me to lose my nerve, I typed "U.S research student questions" in the subject line and hit "send", hoping for the best as it miraculously traveled to Saudi Arabia in a matter of moments.
And so, without further adieu, my very first correspondence with my birthfather, M:
My name is Emily B______. We have never met, but you might remember me because I was once named Reem.
I am the child that resulted from your pregnancy with M___ W___ in Pittsburgh in September 1980. She gave me up for adoption a few months after giving birth.
Please, hear me out before you:
A) become angry
B) become afraid
C) delete this email before even finishing reading it.
I want to reassure you first and foremost that I don't want anything from you.
I am not looking for someone to father me. I am not looking for money. I am not looking for a particularly deep relationship.
I'm a 31 year old grown woman. I am intelligent, well educated, thoughtful, and take care of myself---I lead a wonderful and happy life. I want no "thing" from you and am certainly not contacting you to extort money or conduct a smear campaign and ruin the somewhat public, political life you appear to lead.
I am a completely normal, stable and good person--- that is all I can reassure you with for now in the hopes that you will believe it. Please try and trust that.
However, I am asking for a bit of your time and understanding.
I'm simply reaching out to learn about who I am and where I come from. My story, so to speak. Surely, as you have grown and matured from that time in your life, you can understand where I'm coming from. It is hard to know nothing about oneself: the past, the circumstances, the reasonings, the people who make up one's story. This is essentially what makes adoption so complex.
Pennsylvania is what is called a legally "closed" adoption state. I only have your name after requesting information from the Pittsburgh Adoption Court System and being permitted to open my file. I did this when I turned 30 and only now have been able to contact you after finding your name and several photos on the U.S/Middle East____ website. Please excuse my telling the contact, Gail, that I was a student doing research and wanting to ask you some questions. I did this out of respect for both yours and my privacy; and of course, because it was the only way I found to ensure personal with contact you. Your information on the organization's public website fit the time frame, and I can only say this bluntly: you and I look very much alike.
I was able to get into contact with Bashar, the old friend you made in ESL class at Point Park College. I met him and his wife, D___, recently in Pittsburgh, where they still live. They both remember you and spoke highly of their old acquaintance.
Please read my email a few times before impulsively deleting it, and please consider responding to me with understanding and compassion. I am not here to threaten or embarrass you. We are both adults. I simply want to talk with you.
"Reem Marie M______m"(that is the name my birthmother M___ gave me on my original social security card, but because I was adopted my legal name is Emily B_______.)