A flurry of instant messages back and forth, and then my sister drops another bombshell: “Our mom is here next to me. She wants to talk to you.”
I took a few shaky breaths and typed out a response, asking if she had a webcam and suggesting we could “meet” face-to-face over video chat. I then ran into my adoptive parents’ bedroom—they were both fast asleep—and woke them up. When they heard the news, they were as shocked as I was, but still able to calmly offer me advice on what to say.
The few rings before our video stream connected felt like an eternity. And worry started to sink in while I waited. What if the app stalled or froze? Even worse, what if the call dropped and I missed any part of what my birth mom had to say to me? There was no doubt in my mind this was the most important video chat of my life, so I wanted everything to work perfectly. And it did.
Our first conversation
The first thing we commented on was our resemblance. My birth mom’s hair was long, thick and dark, like mine, and we had similar smiles. My mother said I didn’t look how she thought I would, much more fully-grown than expected. She wasn’t even sure she would have recognized me if I’d passed her on the street.
We stayed on the call for hours, just enough time to wrap our heads around it all. We talked about so many things, like where I was going to school and what I was studying, what she did for a living, her other children, how I had been celebrating my birthday and how this was the best way imaginable to start my twentieth year.
“I’ve never forgotten you”
In the weeks that followed, mobile tech and apps were critical in helping us learn more about each other. When my mother told me about her bungalow in a small English town, I used Google Earth™ to pinpoint her location and see a street view of the house. And she learned more about my life and how I’d grown up by looking through my Facebook photo albums. Her favorite shots were the ones where I was—as she put it—beaming at the camera, making the dimpled smile that runs in our family.
As our conversations became more relaxed and comfortable, we found ourselves video chatting with tablets, which let us move around from room to room showing each other the little details that made up our day-to-day lives.