James Serrano, born in the United States, adopted in the United States
INTRO: Fellow adoptee James sent me his story to share with you here on the blog. He tells his story with courage and honesty. James talks about finding out he was adopted, finding his first mother and father, his fighting with anxiety and depression among other things related to his adoption.
By: Jim Serrano
You are probably wondering why I called my story twice adopted; well here is the journey and the facts as to why the title sums up my life. I was adopted at two weeks of age and the second adoption was seven years ago when I found unconditional love from my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I guess this is where I start at the beginning; I was adopted when I was two weeks old by my parents Joe and Lupe Serrano, which was 45 years ago. I was raised in Gilroy, California and grew up in a very strict household. The first time I found out that I was adopted I was about 11 years old. My parents, brothers, and sisters would tell me they got me at the supermarket all through my teenage years. I always had it in the back of my mind, that maybe I was adopted. I acted out a lot, which meant I had anger, drugs, and alcohol issues and also at the age of 10-11 i was being molested by a male cousin. I always felt unworthy because of my birth parents giving me up for adoption. I figured they didn’t want or me. Many years later when I was dating my wife we were eating dinner and I told her I had something to tell her so I told her I was adopted and she said it was okay! Yet in the back of my mind I thought she would think that there was something wrong with me because my birth parents gave me up for adoption, this was 25 years ago.
The next part of the journey would be actually starting to search for my birth parents. Back in 1999 I was watching a TV program about adoption and the program explained how to get un-identifying information so I decided it was time for me to look, for myself, and for my 12 year old daughter. My journey began with going to my parents and letting them know that I was going to search for my birth parents and if they could please give me all the information that they had. My parent’s reaction was why and I remember my dad telling me, “Are you prepared to find out what’s out there.” My mom was saying if I was trying to replace them. I told them no but I needed to find out what I was. The information I got said I was born in San Jose and was adopted through the county. I work in San Jose driving a concrete truck so one day after work I went to the count office and asked if I could get my un-identifying information. The woman at the desk told me that those records are closed and I could not get the information I wanted. I came home disappointed and told my wife what happened. She told her brother so he decided to call the social worker that I spoke to and convinced her to call me back in her office to sign a waiver so I could get the information but it could take up to a year to get the information. Two months later the information came in the mail. It stated that my mother was 5ft, 95 lbs, and she worked in a doctor’s office. She was 25 years old at the time of my birth. My father was Mexican, brown hair and eyes, 5’6, and had a 10th grade education and also worked full time. It was a brief affair and they were not interested in marriage. About three months later at my place of employment I was delivering concrete to a job site and I was talking to a gentleman I have know for 20 years, who’s name is Carlos.
He asked me what I had been up too, and I told him I was looking for my birthparents. He proceeded to ask me if I had any information and I told him all the information I knew. He then told me that the information about my birth mother sounded like a girl he knew named Marie who he had dated in the early 60’s. I began to tell him about my birth family which described him to a tee. I called my wife and told her what had happened and if she could read me the information about my birth father. I went back to the job site and asked Carlos how far he went in school and he stated that he only went up to the 10th grade. We then just looked at each other and thought maybe we were father and son. I asked him if he knew how to a hold of Marie and he said he would try to fine her but it had been 38 years since he has seen her. Two weeks later I was talking to a fellow coworker and he told me he used to date Carlos’ daughter and that he would call her so we would meet. Meanwhile Carlos and I decided to take a blood test. About 9 weeks later I got the results in the mail saying that we were not father and son, which was one of the worst days in my life. When I told him about it we were both devastated. Six months passed and my wife was talking to a neighbor and she told her that her husband was adopted. So my wife shared with her that I was adopted also. The neighbor told my wife that her husband went to adoptive identity discovery meeting and that’s how he found his birth parents. So I decided to go to the Santa Clara meeting because I was adopted in San Jose. While at the meeting I met a gentleman who helped me with my search. I gave him all my information and he told me he would have a name for me but the time I got home. He called me that night and gave me my birth mothers maiden name. Meanwhile my adopted mother found out she had breast cancer so the guilt started to dig deep into my heat. I thought how I could keep going on with the search. So I decided to keep looking. 6 months past and we narrowed my birthmother’s maiden name to three woman and three addresses. One of them was in San Jose where I worked, so one day I was delivering concrete and saw he address so I pulled over and knocked at the door and asked if they ordered concrete. The person that answered the door was my brother but I didn’t know at the time. Three weeks passed and the gentleman helping me called and told me he found my birthmother and the address I stopped at three weeks ago was where she lived. I got her phone number and called her that night. She answered the phone and I asked her if any of her son’s were home and she said no and asked me who I was and I told her my name was Jim Serrano and she didn’t recognize my name. I asked her if January 22, 1962 mean anything to her, and there was a dead silence. She then proceeded to ask why I was saying these things and asked who it was and I told her this is who you think this is, so she told me she couldn’t talk and to call her tomorrow morning. I hung up and told my wife what happened and was so anxious, confused, and numb. My wife didn’t want me to drive home. So later that night my wife and I were talking and the phone rang and it was my birthmother Nolberta and she asked me if we would meet the next day at a Valley Medicare in San Jose because she had an appointment for her kids that morning. I agreed to meet her the next morning. So we meet in the parking lot of Valley Medical. When we saw each other we locked eyed and she hugged me and cried and told me she was sorry, although I had no emotions. She asked me to go along to the appointments she had for her kids. After the appointments we talked and she told me that her husband and kids didn’t know anything about me. She told me that God gave her a second chance with me so she was going to tell her husband and kids about me. She said that she was sacred that her husband was going to kick me out of the house. Later on that night Nolberta called me and said that her husband and kids were excited to meet me. A week later I met her husband and my two brothers. I didn’t get to meet my sister because she loves in Montana at the time. One thing I noticed was a lot of young children living in her home. Later that night we spoke on the phone and I asked her who all those children were. She stated that they all were her foster children and that they were foster parents for at least 25 years. She said she was paying God back for what she did 38 years ago by giving me up for adoption. At the same time I didn’t tell my adoptive parents about the meetings. I asked Nolberta of Carlos Bryant was my father and she told me no that my father’s name is Raul Coca. She had not seen him in 39 years. But she knew where his brother worked. So I went to where Raul’s brother worked and that was Hank Coca Furniture in San Jose. A week later I was working so I pulled up in front of the store and I asked for Hank Coca but he was not there so I spoke to Hank Coca Jr. and asked how I could get a hold of Raul Coca.
He asked me who I was and I told him I was his son. He was shocked and surprised. I left my phone number and name and also left Nolberta’s name and if he could contact me. About a month later Nolberta had a BBQ at her home so I could meet the rest of the family. On the way home my wife and I were talking about how well the party went and how nice all my new relatives are. But the only downside was that I hadn’t heard from Raul Coca. When we got home there was a message from Raul on the answering machine. We spoke the next day and we decided to meet that week for lunch. So we meet and we looked a lot like each other, he told me he didn’t know anything about me. He also told me he has never married or had any children. So he asked me if I wanted to go and see where my grandparents were buried so we went to the cemetery and one thing I noticed was that Nolberta’s parents were buried close by. I decided that I wanted to take a blood test to make sure Raul was my biological father. So six weeks later the results were positive that he was actually my biological father. Then a few weeks later my wife, daughter and I went to Pacifica to meet the rest of the Coca family. After meeting both families we kept talking to each other for weeks. My 39th birthday was coming up and I found out about a week before that Nolberta was going to thrown me a surprise party in Gilroy with all my family and friends from both sides. I wasn’t feeling happy about it because I knew my parents were not comfortable with meeting my birth mother. So that night when I walked into the party I had to act like I was surprised but actually I was extremely uncomfortable because my parent’s were sitting at the same table as Nolberta. That night I proceed to get drunk so I could just not worry about the situation, because I remember that when my mom and dad left the party my dad said we would be talking about it tomorrow. The next day while I was home my heart started pounding extremely fast and hard. I told Tina to call an ambulance because I though I was having a heart attack. I ended up in the ICU for three days but the doctor’s said it wasn’t a heart attack but actually an anxiety attack. I spoke to a therapist a week later and he started giving me Paxil for depression, I was out of work for a month. The first day I returned to work I was speaking to a friend on a job site and he was really listening to my trials, and asked me to attend church with him on Friday night. I told him maybe, but Friday came and I decided to go to his church. I was late but he was still waiting for me on the steps so my wife and I started going to his church in San Jose for about a month. One morning before service started I was getting an anxiety attack so I went and took my medication and felt better. After the first worship song I accepted the Lord on that day, March 1st, 2001. I went that day and threw away the Paxil, told my therapist that week what I did but he said it was dangerous for me to do it. I knew the Lord had healed me, so I now know my life is going great even in my trials. I know the Lord will give me peace in my life.
I know you are probably wondering about why I called my testimony twice adopted, it is because in Ephesians 1:5 which speaks about being adopted as son’s of God, and it was all planned before we were born.”
Written by James Serrano
James was born in the US and adopted in the US