#FamiliarStrangers

STATS – Day: 108 | Distance: 12,107.8 miles | Location: Butte, Montana | Money Spent To Date – Gas: $1,209.22| Food: $1,498.19 | Play/Misc: $617.41| Lodging $1,721.02

I’ve been in Butte, Montana for the past two weeks spending time with my birth mother, “Ma” Linda. I was adopted when I was just an infant to the Quigley family in Coquille, Oregon. It was in southwestern Oregon where I grew up and lived for 26 years before moving to northern Virginia.

I have two mothers. One gave me life. One gave me purpose.

It is a bit of a unique situation getting to know someone that you already have a past with. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be reunited with someone you carried in your body for 9-months. This isn’t our first meeting. We met for the first time back in 2006. Since then we’ve seen each other about 10 times for a few days here and there. It is hard to get to know a person for only a few days. So when my travel schedule had a bit of a shift I decided to stay two weeks in Butte and spend some solid quality time with her.

“Ma” Linda and Me

It feels like a struggle at times. I’m trying to get to know her as a person. She’s trying to get to know me as a daughter, as her “mini me”. Those are two very different things. When a parent puts up a child for adoption, I don’t believe they necessarily stop being a “mother” or a “father” – yes, they give up their legal rights, but the emotion and linkage can remain. For me, I didn’t have the emotional linkage to be her daughter, I was barely born. I had curiosity of course, do I look like “her” or “him”? And there was a definitely need for background health information. Which was my primary reason for hiring a private investigator to find her. I think it is ridiculous that a full health history is not provided to both adoptive parents and directly to the child once they reach legal age and are responsible for their own health.

How many of us are walking time-bombs?

We’ve been taking a few side trips to check out Yellowstone National Park (Linda has never been there), up to “Our Lady of the Rockies” – a 90ft statue atop the continental divide (at an elevation of 8,510 feet) overlooking the city of Butte, and an underground tour of the Orphan Girl Mine. All so very cool!

View of Butte from
View of Butte from “Our Lady of the Rockies”
“Our Lady of the Rockies”

One of my highlights was meeting Pat Dobb, a Butte native, who is restoring an old rail car by hand! It is a true labor of love. Pat works on this project on his own time and his own dime. The rail car is right in front of the Berkley Pit entrance and could be used for tours or even ice cream/hot chocolate distribution. Pat’s positive personality is AWESOME and infectious.  We need more people like Pat in the world!

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Most of our time was spent on a project, I LOVE projects! This project was to work with her community group, Butte Community Celebrations Inc. (BCC), to put on a Halloween party for all the children of Butte. This one was in honor of Charlie Judd, who put on a Halloween Party every year initially for low income families, soon everyone was invited. Charlie passed away and the parties stopped. BCC said “not this year” and was given space inside the local Mall. The plan was to have games with prizes, a haunted house, a photo booth, a dance floor, a story corner and have hotdogs, candy and drinks – all free to the community. No small undertaking, but I was up to the challenge.

Luckily all of the advertisement, donation collecting and sponsorship had been taken care of and what was left was all the creating, decorating, work flow organizing, and decision making. Piece of Cake!

This is one of the things Linda and I share, we love art and creating stuff.

With the help of the BCC members, volunteers and an average of a 10-hour workday for 5-days straight – the party was a raving success! Approximately 1,500 hotdogs, 100 pounds of candy, and 1,000 prizes were distributed in 3-hours and not an unhappy face in the house.

collage_20151031183350650 collage_20151031183719406

As with anything enjoyable, the time flew by. I think by the end of my visit Linda and I have come to know each other a little better. As we hugged each other goodbye and I drove to my next destination, I thought back over my two weeks and was so glad that I extended my stay, and that I have an extended family.

Another article on Pat Dobb “Art fish made in Butte woodcarver’s shop

Link to Butte Community Celebrations, Inc.

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