Jan—let's call her Janet, to keep her straight from my birth mom J—quickly e-mailed Jon back to confirm that we were indeed talking about the same person. I'm still not sure how she was so confident. I'm telling you, we're not talking about a real unique name here, people. Anyway, Jon passed her e-mail on to me to handle as I saw fit. You see, I hadn't truly expected to find him. Before Jon had come across this messageboard, I had decided that I didn't want to invest the money in the investigator he had talked to. I didn't imagine in a million years that we would be able to contact him on our own. So now that the opportunity was right there in front of my face, I was no longer so sure I wanted to go forward with it. Jon assured me that he would leave the ball in my court.
But then, for some reason, he didn't. He felt obligated to respond to Janet's e-mail, and he told her why we were searching for Frank. It seems like such a minor detail now, so unimportant, but at the time I was absolutely devastated. This was a big step for me, and I wanted to take it in my way, on my time. Instead, he'd pushed me right down the staircase!
It was probably the shove that I needed, though. I now felt that I had no choice but to e-mail this woman about this man who I wasn't even sure I wanted to find. So I did. I told her who I was—probably reiterated a lot of the things Jon had already said—and explained why I was looking for Frank. I had no idea when I hit the "send" button what an integral part of my life she would become over the next several years.
Somewhere I still have that first e-mail that Janet sent me. I was in awe of how God had dropped her in our laps—I still am. Yes, she said again, we were talking about the same Frank… and she also knew who I was. She and Frank had had a relationship shortly after his relationship with my birth mom—but theirs had been… well, more "real", for lack of a better word. While I surmise that Frank's relationship with Jan had been a fling (and had definitely been an affair), he and Janet had been in a long-term, somewhat-committed (more on that later) relationship. One where they lived together and had a child together as a result of actually TRYING to get pregnant. She had known about Frank's affair with Jan and knew that they'd had a child who had been given up for adoption. And now here we were, 21 years later, "meeting" for the first time by the miracle of the internet.
And then I got it—Frank's address. I'm not sure if the message Jon had come across online was an old one, or if she had found him in the interim or what, but she now had his physical address. And she sent it to me.
And this man… the one who had lived in Colorado when I was born… who had lived in California when I was a child… who had traveled the world as a member of the Air Force… lived in Columbus, Ohio. Two hours away from me.