Tag Archives: birth family

Butch

5 years ago today, my birth father passed away; one month before I lost my baby, and over 2 years before I found him.

I wish I could have met him. There are times I’m sad I didn’t get the opportunity to grow up with him and his side of the family, but I am eternally grateful I found them at all. It took nearly 20 years for me to find him.

I swear to you, I feel he must have helped guide me to find my sister so I could connect with her and the rest of his side of the family. The series of incredible luck it took for me to find her was just amazing. One right after the other in a rapid succession within hours.

My birth mother gave me two names to find him; his name and his cousin. His cousin’s name was unusual enough that I knew it would be easier to find him than Butch. Since 1995 I regularly search online for Butch and his cousin, but I was never able to turn up any results. I would call information in Hawaii looking for either of them. I had even talked with someone from a veterans group to help search for his service records. What I didn’t know was that Butch wasn’t his real name.  I later learned it was a family nickname. This explained the great difficulty in locating him .

In 2011, and as it turned out, just weeks after he passed away, I did a search, like I had done so many times before, for his cousin.  For the first time I got a hit. I got an actual street address for him. I wrote down the address and then stared at it for a long time.

Now what?

I mean, what do you write to the cousin of your birth father, a man who never knew you existed, and it’s been over 40 years? “Uh, hey! So I’m your cousin’s unknown 41-year-old daughter and, uh, I just wanted to say hi.”

Like, seriously?!

So I sat on the address.

In 2014 Chris and I were preparing for our big wedding and I was in the midst of writing out the wedding invitations. I turned the page on the notebook I was using and there was the cousin’s address… staring at me.  Well, I was already in letter writing mode and I figured one more couldn’t hurt. Besides, what was the worst that could happen? They don’t respond, or it gets returned. Then I was no worse off than I already was.

I grabbed a blank card and proceed to write-up a basic letter with my origin story.  I started with who I was, why I was writing, the story my birth mother gave me about the cousin and my birth father, and the various ways I can be contacted. I even told them to Google me, there’s plenty of pages and video interviews out there if they need more info.

I will admit, there was a tiny part of me that worried they’d see I was a witch and simply never bother to contact me. However, there was nothing I could do to change that fact. Fact is I’m as out of the broom closet as one can get.

About a week went by and a woman I believe was the cousin’s wife friended me on Facebook. I woke to find the notification and was in minor shock. I think I called Chris at work quite excited about it.  I spent about an hour or so looking at her page, mostly scanning her friends list to see if a Butch or anyone with his last name was among the many names. At the time I didn’t find anything.

I scanned her page, saw a neat hula video, and pressed “like”.  That did it! She not only unfriended me, she blocked me completely.  I was incredibly devastated. This was the closest I had ever come to finding him in nearly 20 years since I found my birth mother and learned who he was and it seemed that my best connection to find him was now gone. I was beside myself and unsure what happened or what I should do next.

Fortunately, I remembered some of the names on her list, like her daughters’ names. Oddly, this was the breakthrough I needed! Within the friends lists of her daughters’ I was able to find tons of people with my father’s last name. Every profile with his last name I opened as a new tab. I had over 20 tabs open. I scanned the names and came across two women of which I thought at least one might be his wife. Later I learned I was right on the second name. I searched both of their profiles for Butch, but at the time I didn’t find anything.

I went through a lot of info, scanning for anything that might help me connect with Butch. While I was going back and forth through the profiles I kept going back to the second woman’s page and somehow I opened up a photo album I hadn’t found previously that just happened to be nothing but pics of Butch. I looked at the caption and realized I found him! To be honest I was beginning to think the info my birth mother gave me was incorrect, but there he was.

Just then my father, Ron,  walked down the stairs. Coincidentally he was heading to the airport to spend the week at a family reunion. I started yelling, “I found him!” as Dad was walking toward me. I was so excited! Dad walked over, I pointed at the computer screen to show him. He was really happy for me.

The first pic was of Butch in the early 70s, not long after returning to Hawaii from the Vietnam War.  More pics after that showed him in uniform in various countries.

Eventually I realized all the images were posted on the same day. Then as I read the picture comments it took a second to sink in.  They were all past tense.

“He was…”

I then paid more attention to exactly what people were writing and realized he had indeed passed away. I missed him by just over 2 years.  My heart sank. I sat there for a while crying over a man I never got to meet and who never knew I existed.

As I sat staring at one picture I read a comment from one woman, “Daddy was…” Daddy? I have a sister!

I already had her profile open among the many tabs still open. I went through her profile and discovered she ran a  Hawaiian language and culture organization in Las Vegas. I opened the link to the organization’s website, but discovered there was no phone number and the link to their Facebook page was not functioning. Most of the info on the page seemed to be about 2 years out of date. I really wanted a phone number. The idea of trying to reach her by email seemed like my chances were less likely to connect with her if I didn’t have direct communication. I searched on FB directly to find the organizations page and much to my relief there was a Las Vegas phone number.

I admit, I kinda freaked out for a minute before making the call.  Like the letter to the cousin, what does one say to a sibling that did not know you existed? I mean, these are weird conversations and I hadn’t yet found a Hallmark card that was suitable for this situation.

I was worried if I called her she might be defensive and possibly not believe me. I was so worried about being rejected, but I sucked it up and called her.

For a change I exposed my blocked number so she wouldn’t think I was a telemarketer. However, I got the voice mail and unfortunately, it was not in English. It was all in Hawaiian and I sat there stumped. I had no idea what it said and when the beep came I had no idea what to say, so I hung up.  Fortunately, because I didn’t keep my number blocked, she called me right back. She asked if anyone called from my phone number. I said yes and told her, “this is likely to be the strangest phone call you’re ever going to get” to which she replied, “it already is.” I then explained, “if you’re who I think you are then I’m your sister”.  I feared I’d hear the phone disconnect, but she was still there so I told her the story I was given from my birth mom about her time dating Butch. I gave her all the info I was given. For my sister, the info matched up.  We talked for 45 minutes that day.

This all began around 11am that day and I was on the phone talking with my sister by 5pm. It was a crazy emotional rollercoaster day.

As luck would have it I was planning to be in Las Vegas the week after our wedding for a friend’s wedding.  We chose to meet that Sunday for dinner. My husband sat there listening to us talk. He observed that my sister and I lead different, but very parallel lives.

I’m sad Butch isn’t here for me to meet him, but I’m grateful to have found his family. They’ve been just amazing. Hopefully, next year I can travel to Hawaii to meet the rest of the family.

Kona Blend

My father and his brothers formed a band, Kona Blend. They put out two albums that can be found on YouTube, iTunes, and Amazon. This is the first song my sister introduced me to as we were driving around Las Vegas on our way to an amazing Hawaiian place for lunch. That’s my birth father, Butch, singing.

Original Release Date: April 26, 1979

Siblings Day

As a child this is a holiday I never thought I’d be able to celebrate. I was adopted at birth and an only child for the first 25 years of my life, but now I’m the second oldest of 5 on my birth mother’s side and the eldest of 2 on my birth father’s side. Not to mention all the “adopted” siblings I have in my life.

 

Maternal Siblings

The only time the 4 of us have been together. (L-R) My older sister Betty, younger brother Gene, birth mother KC, youngest sister Gloria, and me. 1999
The only time the 4 of us have been together.
(L-R) My older sister Betty, younger brother Gene, birth mother KC, youngest sister Gloria, and me. 1999

Unfortunately, none of us were raised together. We all have different father’s and did not get the opportunity to grow up together. Also, we all live in different states. As such, it should be no surprise there’s only been one time in all of our lives that 4 of the 5 siblings have ever all been together at one time. Luckily, we have photographic evidence to prove it actually happened. Some day we hope to find our youngest brother, Michael, who was put in foster care at 6 and adopted at age 8.

 

Paternal Siblings

With my younger sister, Rebecca (on the left)
With my younger sister, Rebecca (on the left)

In 2014 I had the incredible luck, and I believe guided help by my birth father on the other side, of finding my younger sister and my birth father’s family. I had been searching for 19 years for them and with an incredible good fortune I was able to make contact within a matter of hours after my birth father’s cousin’s wife added me on Facebook because I’d sent them a letter the week before. It’s an incredible tale, actually, and one I’ll post about on another day, but after a real roller coaster of emotions filled day I was talking with my younger sister who also never knew I existed until that day.

A week after our wedding, my husband Chris and I had plans to go to Las Vegas for a friend’s wedding. Turns out my sister lives in Las Vegas as well, so we made plans to meet while we were in town. To finally meet her brought an incredible amount of closure while also opening up so much more to my life story than I ever knew possible.

 

In-Law Sibling

2014-05-03-Yvonne-%26-Chris%27-Wed-3268614612-O
Michael kissing me after giving his best man speech at our wedding last year. 2014

My baby brother Michael, not to be confused with my birth brother Michael who is also my youngest brother. I call Michael Williams my “baby brother” because he is the youngest of all my brothers though he’s actually my husband’s older brother. I adore him greatly and am quite glad to have him in my life.

 

Adopted Siblings

Me and Bryce 1974
Me and Bryce 1974

Brother from Another Mother

Bryce is a boy who lived two doors down from me. We’re just under 4 months apart in age, and up until our junior year of high school, we were always in the same school. He’s the closest experience I have to understanding what it’s like to grow up with a sibling.
Throughout our childhood we did a great many things together and spent most of our summers in swim classes and hanging out together. One time, during summer break between 4th and 5th grade, I remember he got friends from the next neighborhood to help organize a cross neighborhood rubber band war. Bryce’s house was our fort and our friend Brian’s house was the other team’s fort. We weren’t the kind of kids who got into trouble, we were nerds.

Williams Wedding 2014
Williams Wedding 2014 – (L-R) Seth, Angel, Jeff, Donnie, Michael, Chris, Me, Heather, Teresa, Hilda, Gloria, Kate, Michelle, and Lisa.

Wedding Party

With the obvious exception of my husband (we’re not hillbillies, yo!)  every person in our bridal party were asked because we are very close with them, and to us they are our siblings, by blood or not.

 

In Memoriam

Me and Jim spending new years day at Venice Beach. 1996
Me and Jim spending new years day at Venice Beach. 1996

I met Jim during one of the hardest years of my life. We became very close friends pretty fast, I learned a great many things from him, and eventually we considered one another family. I remember one time, after he had a particularly long conversation with my dad, he told me he regretted not having met my mom (she passed the year I met him). He lived in LA for most of the time I knew him, but for a short while he lived with us in the year before he died in 1996. I will always miss him.