December 9, 2008

"...Overwhelming Gift"

November 27, 2008 12:36 am
Kira Bush's 40th year of life started in a dramatic fashion. She answered a phone call in her Fredericksburg office, and her birth mother introduced herself.


Kira Bush sometimes wondered who she resembled more.

Was it the Irish-Italian teenager who gave her up at birth? Or the Jamaican musician who never knew he fathered her.

A biracial baby, she was adopted and adored by a biracial couple in 1968. Her father, Elliott Young, was a recreational therapist who had marched with Martin Luther King Jr. Her mother, Wilma Young, had acted on and off-Broadway.

They were open with her, sharing everything they had gleaned from Catholic Charities about her biological parents. They had been in love, she was told, but her birth mother's parents disapproved of the relationship--and the pregnancy.

The 18-year-old was sent away to have the baby, and the boyfriend was cut off.

After college, some of Bush's friends offered to help track her birth mother using a New York phone book to look up the Italian surname she'd been born with.

They even came up with a ruse: She could pose as an Avon saleswoman, knocking on doors and searching the faces of those who answered for any family resemblance.

Bush passed.

"It wasn't a choice that had to be made for me to move forward," said Bush, who couldn't be sure a reunion would end well. "I've had a good life. I don't need to ruin anybody else's life."

Plus, said Bush, whose father died when she was 4, "I never, ever, ever wanted my mom to feel as though she weren't the best mother ever to me. She's been everything to me."

The phone call this year the day after her 40th birthday stunned her. Bush was working at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Fredericksburg, where she's the office administrator. The woman who rang identified herself as Nancy, which meant nothing to Bush.

"This is your mother," the woman finally stammered. "This is your birth mother."

Bush, gregarious by nature, was at a loss for words.

"I think I said, 'I don't know what to say,'" said Bush.

"I think I rambled for a little bit, then I got quiet. I was in tears because I just didn't know what else to do."

Several years before, Bush had offered to help a Fairfax woman track down the son she'd given up in the '70s. To do so, Bush had entered her own profile--including the Italian surname she'd had for the first three weeks of her life--on a reunion Web site.

When her birth mother Googled that name this year on Bush's 40th birthday, she discovered the profile of the "baby" she'd never been allowed to hold. The next day, she made the call.

The two women talked for hours that June day and in the months to come.

In October, Bush, her husband, Jon, and 8-year-old son Michael flew to South Carolina to visit the woman Bush calls Madre--not to be confused with Mom--as well as Madre's husband, Brian, and one of their four daughters.

As she passed through airport security, Bush said it was easy to pick out her birth mother. They have the same face.

"That's what I'm going to look like in 20 years," she thought.

Mom and Madre have spoken on the phone about the gift they share and are scheduled to meet in January.

"It's an overwhelming gift," Bush said of her extended family, "and the gift that keeps on giving and giving."

Edie Gross: 540/374-5428

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