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Searching for Life
Hi, my name is Chelsea Lancaster, and I am 17 years old. I am not like most other 17 year old girls, I’m not interested in looking for a boyfriend or the cutest clothes, indeed I am on a search, but not for those things. I am searching for my parents.
I was born three months premature, and left in the NICU, alone. I am truly grateful to be alive. All I have of my parents is a letter with a few sentences from my birth mother stating:
Hi baby girl, this is your mother, your real mother, I know you were born too early, and are very sick, and might not survive, but your father and I are only 16, please forgive us for leaving, we can’t take care of you. Please know we love you and will be thinking about you often.
Kristina and Mark
Most girls would rip up the letter and never read it again, but me, I am very intrigued and I want to know who my parents are, and let them know that I forgive them. This journey is not going to be easy, it might even be life-threatening, but I am willing to take the chance, I need them.
You see, I have leukemia, and am dying. I am in need of bone marrow, and they may be my only hope for life. I went through chemo when I was 10, and was in remission, for 6 years, but now my cancer is back, and is spreading quickly. I don’t even know if my birth parents are still alive, but I will find out, my life depends on it. In the meantime, I have wonderful foster parents! Mr. and Mrs. Johnson are wonderful, and have been my foster parents for four years now. I was adopted when I was 4 months old, but when I was twelve they died in an awful car accident. I am not asking for sympathy, this is not why I am writing this story, but I am looking for answers. I don’t know why my life has been so rough, but by me having this life it is saving someone else from having to live it.
I hired a P.I. To help me with my quest, his name is Peter Bridges. He has found out that my mother and father are still alive, and my father, Mark Lancaster, lives in Hartford, Connecticut; which isn’t far from Springfield. He still hasn’t been able to locate my mother, but maybe my father will know where she is. Mr. Bridges is taking my foster mom and me down to Hartford to see my father, but he says we probably aren’t going to talk to him today, just observe him. I am still excited, but who wouldn’t be if they were seeing their real father for the first time.
Dark brown hair with gorgeous ocean blue eyes, he was just how I had imagined him, he was super handsome! Thirty-three years old, and still had nice hair, I was amazed. I have the same color hair and eyes as he does; I was thrilled to find out my father looked cool. He was sitting at a table, alone, eating a bowl of soup and talking to someone on his cell phone. He was dressed in a suit, so I presumed he had important work. Mr. Bridges said he was one of the most famous architects in New England. I was so impressed, and amazed I was silent, for once in my life.
I longed to go over to his table and talk to him, but knew that wouldn’t be the right thing to do. Mr. Bridges assured me that tomorrow I could talk with him if I was sure I was ready, I assured him I was. I was beginning to feel the trip starting to take its toil as I laid my head down on the hotel bed’s soft pillow; I immediately fell into a deep sleep, only to be awoken by the alarm clock.
I was wearing my favorite white jean skirt with my new purple and white blouse. I curled my hip length hair to mid-back length and put on my cute not-so-high-heels. I was prepared, good response or bad, I knew anything could happen, and tried not to get my hopes up. My foster mom, Mr. Bridges and I stood outside his office waiting, as his car pulled up to his parking space, my heart started to beat, I had butterflies in my stomach, I thought I was going to puke. Thankfully I was not alone; I had Mrs. Johnson and Mr. Bridges right beside me. As he stepped out of his car, I looked at my support group and said, “I think I should talk to him alone, I know he’ll be shocked, but I want to do this.” They nodded their heads in agreement, and I started to walk, what seemed like the longest walk in my life.
As I walked over to him, I said, “Excuse me, Mr. Mark Lancaster?” With a curious smile he asked, “Yes, may I help you?” I took a deep long breath and quickly said, “My name is Chelsea Lancaster, your daughter, I know this is a huge shock,” He interrupted me and angrily said, “You had no right to come here, no right, go back to where you came from, I want nothing to do with you.” Shocked, and with tear filled eyes I followed him into his building, and slipped a card with my information under the door he entered, and left.
I felt weak and deprived of every bit of energy I had. I knew I had very little time left, but if my father wouldn’t help me, my mother surely would, right? I felt betrayed, I knew that he had every right to be angry, but I still felt anger towards him. I felt like going over to his house, knocking on his door, and yelling at him, and then leaving. But I knew I could never do that, I loved him, I don’t understand how or even why, but I knew that I truly loved him, even if he didn’t love me. Hopefully my mother’s reaction would be different than my fathers.
Mr. Bridges met Mrs. Johnson and me at lunch the next morning with great information. He had found my mother; she lived in Boston, which was only a few hours away from Hartford. I pleaded and pleaded with my foster mom and Mr. Bridges to let me go see her, but they said I needed to sort things out with my father first. I reluctantly agreed and decided to go to his house that evening, and speak with him, but not alone, with backup.
The three of us walked up the driveway of a beautiful urban stone-walled home, I didn’t want to be here, but knew I had to do this, my life depended on it. Mr. Bridges rang the doorbell, and a mid-forties woman, who looked to be the housekeeper, opened the door and asked “Hello, how may I help you?” Mrs. Johnson answered, “We are here to see Mr. Lancaster, we won’t be long, and may we come in?” Looking curious, she said, “Oh, I’m so sorry, where are my manners, of course you may, come in, please have a seat.” She directed us to a lovely sitting area and went to go inform Mr. Lancaster of our arrival.
When he saw me he looked at the ground, and stated, “I thought I said I wanted nothing to do with you, why didn’t you just go back where you belong.” As I was getting ready to say something, My foster mom stood abruptly and stated, “ Look, we have gone through a great deal of trouble just to locate you, this girl here may look strong and healthy, but she is dying, she has leukemia, and YOU may be the only one who Can save her. Please, she needs you. Please.” With tears rolling down her face she sat down. Now looking solemn he stated, “No one knows I have a daughter, I don’t know if I am ready for this,” looking me in the eyes he said “I thought you would hate me.” I walked slowly over to him and said. “You hurt me the first time you abandoned me, and the second time was no different, but I forgive you, I forgave you a long time ago, I may not know you, but I LOVE you, and Need you, please, will you help me?” Now standing, he embraced me, he felt strong, and I needed strength, his strength. Suddenly I began to feel weak, I felt my knees buckle from under me, I heard a scream, was it me? What happened? Why was everything black now?
When I finally could open my eyes, I saw my foster parents and my father, in the room. I wanted to say “hi everyone, what happened?” but all I could get out was “dad”. They all rushed over to me and were all talking at the same time, I couldn’t really understand them, but I knew something had happened, but what? I finally got the strength to talk and said, “What happened?” Mrs. Johnson answered the question, “You fainted, and went into a coma, we were so worried. How do you feel?” Shocked that I was in a coma I said, “Like I just got hit by a train, but I’ll be just fine, I hope.” My father now spoke, “We found your mother Chelsea, we told her about your circumstances, and she said she will be here, by tomorrow.” Now all I could do was smile, maybe this illness was for good, maybe we would all be a family again, maybe.
I awoke the next morning with a start, my mother was coming today, and I had to get ready. I chose a nice outfit and a cute hairstyle for my long light brown hair. There was only one other time I had felt like this in my life. As you know, I have not always been in foster care, when I was 4 months old a wonderful couple adopted me. They raised me until I was ten, when I got diagnosed with cancer. No, they didn’t abandon me because I had cancer; they died in a car crash rushing to the hospital to come see me. I used to blame myself for their death, but I realized that I was just hurting everyone around me, so I stopped. But when I heard that they had died, I felt my stomach drop, like I felt right now, awful. But that all stopped when a country style mid-thirties women with two children around seven and three stepped through the door.
She walked over to my hospital bed and introduced herself and said, “I am so sorry that all this has happened to you, I really am! I wish I could help with the bone marrow transplant, but I can’t, I have had cancer before and am still in remission.” “Stunned by this awful information I answered, “So I guess it runs in the family?” “Yes, it does, but I hoped it would stop at me, I am so sorry.” “Don’t be, none of this is your fault, it’s no one’s fault.” “You are strong and beautiful, how did I ever give you up?” I didn’t want to go into this conversation so I asked, “Who are these two little girls?” Looking confused she stood up and introduced them, “This is Jenny, she is eight years old, and this is MaKayla who is four. They are my sister’s children. My sister is out of town and I promised to watch them for her.” “That’s so nice of you; do you have any children of your own?” I asked not meaning to cause harm.“No, just you.”
“Chelsea, I need to tell you what happened, I need to explain.” Looking down at my hands, I quietly said, “I honestly don’t need to know, I am just happy you are here, but I am willing to listen any way.” Slowly she started, “Mark and I grew up together, people were always saying we would grow up and get married. We started dating when we were fifteen years old. He and I were the perfect couple, he made me laugh, I made him smile, we were deeply in love. When we turned sixteen, it was the fall of our senior year, we both had jobs and were saving for medical school. We were pretty busy and we both knew what we wanted to do in our lives. I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, at a young age; it meant that I couldn’t get pregnant. So when I became pregnant with you, I was shocked and happy, you were truly a miracle, our miracle.” Taking a deep breath she continued, “When I told Mark that I was pregnant, he was shocked and ecstatic, and we were going to have a family. We decided to hide the pregnancy, and after you were born get married and buy an apartment and raise you like a we were a normal family. Easier said than done, when I was seven months along, Mark and I were studying for a chemistry test when I suddenly got a huge pain in my lower abdomen and was rushed to the hospital. Since I was a minor, my parents were called, and to their surprise I was in labor. They lectured us, yelled at us, and made things even worse than they were. My due date was two months away, I wondered why I was in labor so early, I wondered if you were going to be alright. My parents organized the adoption in less than two hours, I was angry, tired and in pain. Mark and I told them our plans, and they laughed and said “you are just children, you can’t raise a baby”. Maybe they were right, but I was heartbroken, and so was your father.” Fighting back tears, she slowly continued, “After you were born, they took you away, I didn’t get to see your face, I didn’t even hear you cry, I cried and screamed for you, but they never brought you in. your father and I were scared, for you and for us, scared you would die, scared they wouldn’t let us keep you. The pain and hurt from the labor was nothing compared to the emptiness I felt when they took you away.” As the tears streamed down her face, she continued, “My parents demanded that I not go and see you, but I did, just once. No one knew I went and saw you, not even Mark, I wrote you a letter, a short heartfelt letter. I looked at you and immediately I felt our souls bond forever, I touched your face, and left. Back in my hospital room, the nurse came in, and handed me an envelope. I reached out and took it; I slowly opened it and pulled out a single picture.” Handing me a small photo of an infant with tubes and wires all over her small body, she continued, “It was a picture of you, I have treasured that picture for sixteen long years, and now, it’s yours.” Clutching the picture in my hands, I whispered, “thank you, thank you so much.”
My father then entered the room and it was then I knew, I found what I had been searching for. Turns out I wasn’t searching for life, I was searching for love.