1973

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My mother had just turned 26 when I was born. When I was born Roe v Wade was 12 days away from being decided. When I was born, my mother couldn’t have a bank account or a credit card in her name. Maybe that is why after being separated from her husband for 2 years, his name was put on my birth certificate.

She was strong-willed and there wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for me, except tell me the truth.

I don’t remember the first time I realized the man they called my father wasn’t. I don’t remember ever feeling like I was part of that world. I didn’t fit in. I would ask her, beg her – please tell me I am the milkman’s child. She always answered those questions with “you are my daughter”. Great, not the question but great.

After Mamma died I had a conversation with her sister-in-law and I mentioned how I never felt like I was part of his family. My aunt told me she never thought I was either. She didn’t know who it might be, but she didn’t feel like the name on my birth certificate was accurate.

A few years ago Michael and I took a DNA test for medical reasons and instantly I was getting connected to relatives that I didn’t know – names that weren’t familiar at all. I figured it was more proof that I wasn’t a member of the Swick family, but with nothing more to go on I assumed I would never find out who it was unless a sibling or my father actually took the test. In May 2024, that is what happened. I got a notice that I matched 24+% with someone and then 7% DNA match with another person. I told my cousin and she remembered that name. HULL. Turns out Mamma worked with a man for a while at a horse farm named HULL.

I dug into the weeds at Ancestry.com and internet searches began with a few details. I found him. Howard Hull, he died in 1982. I have half-siblings and I’ve reached out to them, but I can only imagine what they are going through.

For me, here’s what this has brought me. Peace. I was gaslit my entire life. When I thought something was off and I would bring it to the attention of those around me I was told I was wrong. That set up a whole life of “don’t trust yourself” – but here’s the thing. When I look back and I realize I WAS RIGHT about all of it – that gave me power. I am not going to doubt my instincts anymore.

This doesn’t change much else for me – Thomas Gibbs, Jr was and will forever be my DADDY, and I got the name to prove it. =) The Swick family will forever be just people I knew, and Mamma will always have my love and respect because she did what she had to do. I only wish as I got older she could have given me the whole story.

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