Day 173 - Christopher

Day 173 - Christopher (2nd person I approached)
June 22, 2014 - When I first spotted Christopher, he was sitting on a park bench by himself, talking on his phone. As I walked past him, I heard him say ‘Goodbye’ to whoever he was talking with. I turned around and went back to ask him if he’d chat with me.

“Sure, I’ll talk with you. It sounds like a great project,” he said.

 

Christopher was born in Vancouver, British Columbia (BC), at the Centennial Pavilion, part of the Vancouver General Hospital facility.

“I grew up in the Kerrisdale area (a neighbourhood of Vancouver). I have one sister that I grew up with,” he says. Christopher and his sister were both adopted. They are not related by birth.

“From as young as we were able to understand, our adoptive parents told us we were adopted. We were chosen. They really wanted us, and that made us feel special. We grew up in an honest, loving home and our parents were always very transparent about everything with us,” he said. Christopher played a lot of sports in school.

“I played any and all sports. Running, soccer, baseball, football, you name it, I played it. I was into sports, not a specific sport.” He did well enough in school.

“In high-school I started to enjoy myself a bit. Partying and having a good time. I didn’t apply myself as much as I did in my earlier days at school,” he said. Christopher still managed to graduate.

“I was probably a part of the last generation that didn’t automatically go to college or university. It seems to be a given that that is the path most students take now. I went to work right after finishing school,” said Christopher.

 

His father was working in real estate and had a background in property development. Christopher wanted to learn from the ground up, and started by working in house construction.

“I wanted to know as much as I could. Learning about real estate by knowing what is under the skin so to speak. My father and I worked on a few development projects together. Then I moved into real estate. I’ve been doing real estate for some 27 years now,” Christopher says.

"I love what I do and I get to do it here in Vancouver. Why would I want to be anywhere else? We’ve got the water, the beaches and the mountains. It’s such a beautiful city. And on sunny days like today, it’s perfect,” he said. Christopher has been engaged a couple of times, but never married.

“I haven’t given up yet,” he says, laughing.

 

About 15 years ago, Christopher’s sister suggested that they each look for their birth parents.

“I wrote to Vital Statistics with all the relevant information. About four months later, I received a letter with all the information. My birth mothers name and the name used when I was born. It was all in my mother’s handwriting,” said Christopher. His sister wasn’t able to get any information about her birth family.

“I waited for about three months before making contact. I pulled out a phone book. My mother's maiden name was an unusual one, so it was easy to track down a number. I called and reached my uncle - my mother’s brother. I told him I was a friend of his sister and that we had gone to school together. I said I lived out of town and was here visiting and was hoping to connect with her. He told me her married name and I looked that up and found it as well,” said Christopher.

“I called and she answered and I told her what my name was and when and where I was born. Of course, she was surprised. I had a few months to prepare for this call. She wasn’t expecting it. She was very polite and calm and said she would have to make a couple of calls and asked if she could contact me in a few days.” They met shortly after that.
 

“She knew who I was immediately when she saw me. I found out that she was only seventeen when I was born and that was just too young for her to feel that she could look after me. It was also the late 50's and times were very different then. Her and my birth father had been high-school sweethearts. They continued dating and ended up marrying and having three more children together. So I found out that I had two younger sisters and one younger brother. My brother and I are carbon copies of each other. That’s how she knew who I was as soon as she saw me. He’s the country boy version and I’m the city boy version,” said Christopher.

"My adoptive mother had passed away by this time. My adoptive father thought it was just incredibly wonderful that we had reconnected. He was over the moon. He’s gone now too, but we got along very well. We’ve all spent Christmases together. My birth parents, my adoptive father and all the siblings,” he said, with pride in his voice.

“We never had any sibling rivalry between my natural siblings and there's a genuine bond and connection between us. My mother said her observation was that the 'pecking order' changed when I came into the family. She said things just seemed to naturally settle down. My sisters and brothers had heard a little bit about me before we met, I think an Aunt had let it slip, but they didn’t know the whole story. My mother said she often thought about me, but didn’t want to disturb my life if I might not have known about being adopted. It’s not always such a great story,” said Christopher. 

 

I thanked him for sharing such a wonderful story and for being so open. Christopher told me

“I’m happy to tell that story. I'm very lucky to have met my mother after all those years. I’m proud of my background. I was comfortable with my life and happy with how I’d grown up. You have to be okay with who you are when seeking out answers. Things don’t always go as we might hope. I just had dinner with everyone last night, for my nephews birthday. But I love my story, I’m proud of if, and I’ll tell it as often as I can.” #notastranger