Updated: Oct 27, 2020
I was adopted from an orphanage in Ft. Worth Tx and my name was Ashley Gladney.
Growing up, my favorite thing about myself was the fact that I was adopted. Why wouldn't it be? If I wasn't adopted I would have never had my parents or my family and let's face it, as crazy as they are, I have the best family in the whole world. I owe everything I am to them.
Whenever a friend or teacher would find out I was adopted, they would get all weird and hesitate to respond or ask me questions, like it was some taboo thing. Whenever I was asked the question, "Well do you know who your birth parents are?" I would always say, "No, I will never know who they are. It was a closed adoption." It was what it was. My hospital records only told me generic information. Just enough for me to paint a vague picture of these two kids who hated each other and wanted something better for me.
I always thought my dad was an immature high school kid with no aspirations who knocked up his girlfriend, who was putting forth half an effort to better herself, and when they couldn't get a long decided to put me up for adoption.
When I turned 16, I was given letters they wrote me before I was taken away from them at the orphanage. His was a paragraph and hers was ten pages. Typical teens. I knew they both loved me, but I was under the impression they would never amount to anything and couldn't take care of me. For some reason I thought they were both on drugs and that's why I was premature and not breathing when I was born. Given what little information I had to go on, this was the story I came up with. I was OK with all of that. They did the best thing for me they could have ever done.
If it wasn't for their decision, there would be no Brooke Ashton Bradley!
When I was 19, I filed the necessary paperwork to find my birth parents. I grew up as an only child and always thought it would be fun to meet my brothers and sisters and see what everyone looked like. I didn't need any more parents, but I had so many questions. The way it works is, if you have a closed adoption, neither you, your adopted parents or birth parents know who each other is. When any party chooses, they can put their information in a "finders file" and if another party has tried to find you or wants to be found, there will be a match. If there is nothing in there, that means no one wants to be found. I knew it was a 50/50 chance I would have a match and I was OK with that. If I had a match, great! My questions would be answered and maybe I would get a brother or 2. If I didn't, that was fine too. I wasn't lacking in the family department.
I had no match.
Fast forward SEVERAL years. It is the December 2018. One of my best friends is really big into ancestry.com and because I knew nothing about myself (heritage etc) she thought it would be fun to get me a kit for Christmas. I had previously done 23 and me with my mother and it didn't work at all, so I was interested to see how the ancestry kit would turn out.
A few weeks go by and I get my results. My biggest curiosity was my nationality. I have always wondered. I knew native american because it says it on my hospital records, but I wanted to know more. Well, I am European! It really was neat to actually have information about genealogy I could look at. Then I saw a link that said something about review matches. I had almost 100 profile matches! My mind began to wonder....
A few more weeks go by and I get a message from a third cousin. Was I ready for what I thought was about to happen? I got a little nervous wondering what he had to say.
Ancestry notified him about my new profile and, go figure, he is really big into our family tree! His mother is my second cousin and he found me off of her profile. I explained to him I was adopted and had taken a DNA kit but didn't really have any information for him. We chatted for a few days and nothing really came of it, but I had a feeling that wouldn't be the last time I would hear from him.
February rolls around, I get a call from my cousin Carson, the one who is really big into ancestry. My heart skipped. I was excited and nervous all at the same time. Why was he calling? What would he say? Is this it? The moment when the one thing I thought would never happen, happened. I answered.... "Brooke, I finished your branch of the family tree." OK. This is crazy! What do I even do with this information? I don't need crazy people knocking on my door! You never know what people are capable of these days!! WHAT WILL MY MOM AND DAD SAY? Will it crush them?
That was the truth of how I felt in that moment. A tornado of regret, panic, curiosity, and pure excitement!
Now, about the can of worms. Open it? Keep it closed? What about my mom and dad? Will I hurt them? It will crush my soul to break their hearts. THEY are my parents, no one else! So many questions, so many paths, so many ways this could end up.
Carson had gotten in touch with my birth father, confirmed who he was, told him I found him and wanted to remain anonymous for now, and got his information to give to me so I could run my own investigation before i revealed myself. Through a serious a phone calls and google searches, I had enough information and decided I was going to call my him. First, I had to tell my parents what was going on. I wanted to be completely transparent with them. If they told me no, that would be the end of it.
It took me until March to actually get up the courage to tell my dad. I walked into my his office, had a panic attack and told him everything as fast as I could before I chickened out. I was so worried about breaking his heart and I had no idea what my mom would say. They mean everything to me. Long conversation short, he was excited for me. He said he would be curious too and he was glad I could finally get answers and see what they look like. That day, I went right home and called Terry.
I had lived my whole life thinking this man wasn't a good man and I had spent my whole life thinking this man wanted nothing to do with me. The moment he reacted to the words, "Terry, I think your my birth father" I knew everything I thought was wrong.
My name was Michelle Nicole Moore.
He had wanted to keep me. He stayed with me for days in NICU and never left my side. This same man (kid) had planned on taking care of a baby girl at 17 years old and has spent the last 29 years hoping and praying he would find me. After speaking with him and his sister I found out his birthday was coming up on March 22 and devised a plan to surprise him.
His wife Megan was an absolute jewel in helping me set up his birthday. She got him to take off work and got him all the way to Lindale without him ever questioning her or thinking anything off it. That's the sign of a good husband right there, HA!
Leward and I arrived early and the waitresses were so sweet to let me in so I could pace inside and be hidden when they drove up. After telling the staff my story, I think we were all pacing around waiting for him to pull in the parking lot. I didn't know what they were going to be driving or what they actually looked like in person so every time someone pulled in we were all freaking out! But, when he did arrive, we knew. Even the waitresses knew and silence fell over every one in the place.
When they walked in, Leward and I were sitting on a bench in the entrance. He didn't see us at first. I was so excited to surprise him I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I was over come with joy for this man who had struggled with a missing piece to his heart for almost 30 years. I couldn't imagine what that must have been like and I was honored to give him one of the greatest birthday gifts he will ever receive. I mean, if we were going to meet for the first time, go big or home home, right?!
It was a unique experience for me. It was more like watching a Hallmark movie or having an out of body experience. The look on his face was priceless and he knew right away who I was and what was going on.Surprise! Happy Birthday! Everyone was in tears.
It took us a minute to get the conversation going, but after the initial shock wore off, we talked for hours and it seemed like only minutes. We laid as much info out on the table as we could think of in that short time. His side of the story, what has happened since then, my 2 step brothers, 2 half brothers and 1 half sister, just on his side. So much for being an only child! My 2 brothers and I just became friends on Facebook. They seem really nice and have similar traits as me. Hopefully in the next few months I will get to meet them.
We found my birth mother on Facebook. I have 1 brother and 1 sister from her too. Who would have ever thought I would have 5 siblings! I haven't reached out to her yet. I know there are two sides to every story, but there is something shady about her side of the story. I don't know how I will move forward where she is concerned. One step at a time and don't worry, I will tell you all about it!