"Well, from what I saw she looks to be pretty stable," Slaton said. "It doesn't look as though she's moved a hundred times. … Your birth mother looks like she [has] potential siblings, which you and I never spoke about."
The information continued: siblings, a spouse of more than 30 years, an address, and a phone number.
"Wow, oh my God, I am just speechless," Guditus said. "I'm speechless.
But now what? Does Guditus write a letter, make a call or do nothing?
Deep down, Guditus said she wanted to call, but was still plagued by reservations. "I mean, what if she hasn't said anything? That's my biggest thing. What about if she got married and never mentioned it and her children are there? That's my biggest concern."
A turbulent flood of questions and what-if scenarios continued. What was the right thing to do?
And the pondering was intimate on a level that can go to the core of an adoptee's identity.
"It's kind of a strange thing," Slaton said. "I think finding your birth family is a weird way of validating your existence because you kind of feel like you weren't dropped off from the mothership, you came from somewhere. And it's like saying this is real."
But what if the door is slammed in your face?
"Well, I've had the door slammed in my face," Slaton said. "How does it feel? I guess my lesson, and what I really try to teach my clients, is be prepared for it as best as you can."
But even preparation cannot always prepare adoptees. "I don't know," Guditus said. "I really want to call her. I really do. I mean I do see both sides of it. I feel the letter is a much safer way to protect myself and to protect her also. But I feel like we've come this far."
Pam Slaton picked up the phone and dialed. After a woman answered, Slaton handed the phone to Cynthia Guditus and she began speaking the words they had planned prior to the call. The following is a synopsis of Guditus' side of the conversation.
Hi _______, my name is Cynthia Guditus. I'm doing some genealogy research on the_______ name – I was just wondering if it was a good time to talk or if I could give you my phone number if you would like to talk sometime. I was born February 1st ... I was adopted at the Foundling Home. I just wanted to ask if you could talk, I don't want to intrude on your life or anything. I could give you my phone number if you'd like to talk sometime.
...I really just wanted to call to thank you because I've had a wonderful life. I appreciate everything you have done because I have the most wonderful family. And my son was diagnosed with cancer a couple years ago and they suggested that I just try to find somebody with a biological link if he ever needed anything. ... I know this is such a shock and I didn't know how to do it, if I should write you a letter.
...I'm sorry. I would never tell anybody. I am a mother of three children, very stable person, you know. You don't have to explain it to me. I pray for you every day, I thank God for you. Because you had choices, I didn't have to be ... And you gave me life and I've had such wonderful parents.
...Do you? I pray for you, too. And it's fine, please don't feel that. I would never intrude in your life and I would never do anything like tell your kids or anything like that. I hope that you have a happy life. Thank you. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I really didn't meant to upset you.
...Can I ask you just a couple of questions? Does cancer run at all in your side of the family? Later? Okay. Alright. Well that was my big thing. Breast cancer, anything like that? No? Well that's great, that's very good to hear. ... That makes me very happy and I'm sorry. I really didn't mean to upset you.
...If I can do anything to help you, you just let me know, OK? OK. God bless you, too. Thank you. I'm very, very sorry to upset you. I'll pray for you, too. Alright, bye-bye.
In about half an hour's time, a grown woman learned her identity, and a biological mother spoke to her daughter for the first time. Guditus returned home that night feeling, as she said, just the same and a whole lot different.