Child Of My Heart, Audrey's Story (Volume Five)
A Child With No Name
On a brisk, January evening, the twenty-first day, in the year 2000, she entered my life. She was a tiny little thing with hair of corn silk, still reeling from a failed adoption.
The family who had adopted her had destroyed her paperwork and there was no record of her birth surname. After asking her guidance counselor at school to send to New York for her elementary school transcripts, we discovered two different names were listed. No one seemed to have record of the child's last name at birth.
This beautiful little girl, without a home, a family, or even her own last name, stood before me, her future in my hand.
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Audrey Against The World
Over the years, I have watched Audrey fail, waver, and then dig her heels in, struggling to regain her footing. Today, I see a grown woman who is making life work and is becoming the successful woman I saw in her future those years ago.
There will be many life changes ahead and many hurdles yet to overcome. But, I know she now has what she needs to withstand all of them and land on her feet, just as her siblings, who have grown to adulthood before her. I also know, if I need her, I can always count on her.
She is my daughter, I love her, and I am proud of the woman she is becoming. I expect her life to reflect her growth in all that she will accomplish.
Once again, it is "Audrey against the world." However, this time, she is confident and will rise to the challenges, triumphant!
A Personal Goal
When we first found Audrey's biological mother and siblings, we contacted her mother's past boyfriend, Michael Levens, to help us locate Audrey's sister, Holly.
In talking with him at that time, I asked him about her biological father.
He told us that it would be a mistake for Audrey to find him because he was a heroin addict. He made it quite clear that finding him would be the very worst thing we could do for Audrey.
Having no one else with whom to verify this, I decided to accept his warning.
However, I did get her father's name from him, though this man was uncertain of the spelling of the last name.
Next, I asked Audrey's biological mother about Audrey's father and she verified the last name. However, she, too, was uncertain of the spelling.
I went online and tried to find him, spelling it the only way I knew how but came up with no leads at all.
Michael Levens, this stranger, who had meant so much to the equation, died of an accidental drug overdose five weeks after receiving my letter. Had I waited longer to begin my quest, we might never have found any of Audrey's family members.
Because of his warning, I chose to drop my search until a later time.
The Memory Of A Face
Since that time, Facebook has become more popular and Audrey's biological mother has a page there as well.
One day, several months ago, she called Audrey, now twenty-four years old, very excited. She had finally remembered the spelling of Audrey's father's last name and found him on Facebook.
She told Audrey she was certain it was Michael Polidoro for she would recognize his face anywhere!
Audrey's only memory of her biological father, whom she never knew, was at about two and a half or three years old. She remembered a building and being left in the car while her mother went inside. When she returned, she had a man with a long blond ponytail with her. Her mother told him she wanted him to see his daughter. He walked over to the car, peering in at her, and then walked away and back into the building. They drove away and she never saw him again.
Immediately, Audrey went to his profile page and wrote a note to him, taking her future into her own hands!
After sending the note, she began to read some of the entries on his wall and realized they were "goodbye" messages...her father had passed away.
She was devastated!
Shortly after, she received a message from his girlfriend, Lisa, explaining that he had died of an Aorta Aneurysm in 2009, less than a year after we had found Holly.
The Secret Things
by Eugenia S. Hunt
The smile spread across her face
Could light a chilling heart.
She possessed a sweetness
That in her heart did start.
And, yet, behind that brilliant smile,
Beneath her pulsing breast,
Were broken years of yearning,
The years of pain’s unrest.
The loss of never knowing
The man who gave her life,
An empty place deep down inside,
Cut deep, as with a knife.
There are special little things
Girls need, with Dad, to share,
That special lap to sit upon,
His loving arms to wear.
The secret things known only,
To a little girl and Dad.
The words whispered in her ear
Which lift her when she’s sad.
Or walking slowly in the park,
Days filled to the brim.
Her hand clasp tight in his,
With just the scent of him.
To wake up in the night
Feeling safe for he is there.
The need to know his touch,
A lifetime, theirs to share.
So, as you gaze upon her face
And see her silent stare,
Just remember, behind that smile,
There’s sorrow buried there.
You see a life that has survived
The pain that loss has planted.
The moments missed as a child,
Many of us take for granted.
Behind the smile, behind the eyes,
See the loss of years so sad.
Be thankful for the man you love,
For the time you've shared with Dad.
A Brother Named Anthony!
Audrey had lost forever the chance to get to know her father. However, she found she had a brother named Anthony.
Having moved back to New York herself last September, Audrey contacted him and was immediately enveloped in excitement, both his and her own!
Anthony's father had told him of a little girl he knew to be his own child but had found no way to locate her, knowing only her first name.
He was very excited and came to meet Audrey with flowers and videos of their father which they sat and watched together.
It didn't take long for them to find many things to which they have in common.
Audrey has found a lifelong friend in Anthony!
In talking with Anthony, Audrey heard of her uncle and his family who live in Florida, a mere forty-five miles from where she had grown up.
First, she discovers she has missed her father's life and now to know that she actually had family living so close all the time was difficult. It was a great deal to take in at once.
When Anthony contacted the family, her cousins were excited. However, her uncle was skeptical as he knew very little about her father's story.
Of course, he needed proof of her existence to know whether or not to accept this stranger as his brother's flesh and blood.
A Trip "Home" In Every Sense Of The Word
Audrey called me to let me know that she was planning a trip home. She would be here the week before Mother's Day. It was time for a vacation, she needed to see her
friends and family, and she needed to meet her father's family, the Polidoros.
She arrived on Monday night and Tuesday morning, contacted her new cousin, Nicole, making plans for us to drive to Orlando that evening.
The drive was a wet one as storms of lightning and thunder rolled across the state. It took us an hour to reach the eastern part of the city, turning, finally onto the street where Nicole lived. We were both excited and yet a little apprehensive, not really knowing what to expect.
As we rounded the block, Audrey was talking to Nicole on the cell phone. She said she was standing out front watching for us.
Suddenly we saw her, standing, or I should say, bouncing, on the front porch, waving heartily with a huge smile on her face.
As soon as I saw her, I just knew this was going to be a wonderful experience. She was so excited!!
(Photo: Jasin, Nicole and eleven year old, Matthew)
I was amazed, as I looked at Nicole, at how much she and Audrey favored each other. Though her hair was dark and her eyes brown, their features were so similar there was no doubt to me that they were indeed cousins.
Nicole has a twin sister, Michele, who couldn't be there that night. However, photos of her were passed around and that same face stared back at us, once again, with so many of Audrey's features.
The girls were so excited that neither took a breath for the first thirty minutes as the words escaped in rapid succession from both of them simultaneously!
(Photo: Nicole's twin sister, Michele)
Audrey learned that her father had, in later years, tried hard to make his life better.
She was told that he had opened an electrical shop in New York which was quite successful, rendering a good income.
Since music was his passion, he formed a band called Third And Main. They were booked every night and very well accepted.
He did have problems in his life with poor choices. However, he was a loving, kind man and would have loved knowing his little girl very much.
I will always be sorry that I heeded Michael Levens warning of him rather than moving forward in 2008 to find out for myself whom this man really was.
God knows best in His infinite wisdom so I must rely on the fact that there must have been a reason that we did not find Audrey's father before his death.
The Forming Of One Whole
As he entered the front door, I saw the look of uncertainty mixed with emotion and determination etched on his face.
Johnny Polidoro was here tonight to meet a girl who claimed to be his niece, a person who had remained a myth in his family for years.
His brother had only spoken scantily to a chosen few of a little girl named Audrey whom he had fathered and only met once. This little girl, whom he had no last name for or any hope of ever finding, was supposedly standing there in his own daughter's living room.
Johnny's eyes scanned the room as he walked in, falling first on me. His face immediately softened as he smiled and said hello.
Then, Audrey turned toward him with a smile and his expression changed.
He said hello but little else for an hour or so. Then he and his wife, Arlene, began to ask questions both of me and of Audrey, trying to piece together the story of her life.
I realized that there was no way to do this in a couple of hours, so I gave Nicole the website to Audrey's Story online for them to read later.
(Photo: Michael Polidoro's brother, Johnny Polidoro)
Next, Nicole's mother, Arlene, brought out a poster filled with photos of Audrey's father and his family. There were photos of her grandmother, Theresa Polidoro, the woman whose hair and eye color Audrey shares. (Audrey's grandfather's name was Rocco Polidoro.)
The more we compared the photos, the more we saw Audrey in their faces.
Finally, her Uncle Johnny looked at me and said, "I apologize for staring but she looks so much like my mother. And she has so many of the same mannerisms of others in my family." Then he just smiled and kind of shook his head. You could see his skepticism slowly diminishing before our eyes as he watched Audrey intently.
They began to take photos of Audrey and soon Uncle Johnny had his arms around her saying, "Take my picture with my niece!"
The joy in his eyes, and the acceptance he was feeling, was obvious.
The child was no longer a myth and this union had made a little girl whole in one quick swoop of love.
This night is one Audrey will never forget. It will also remain in my memory the rest of my life. I am so blessed to have been afforded the opportunity to witness this reunion of a family.
I feel such happiness for Audrey and the Polidoros. Audrey is no longer a little girl without a name. She has found from where she came and has a good solid name to go with her past, a past once filled with questions.
There is only hope now for the future and so many family members to share that hope with.
This little girl, who came to me with no one, called me after finding her family and excitedly exclaimed, "I had nobody...and now I have ten brothers and sisters!! How crazy is that!!!!!" And her giggles rang through the phone!
It brought my thoughts back to an essay she wrote for a school paper which I published in Volume Two of her story. The first paragraph is of particular interest:
"Thinking about what I want out of life and what I want to accomplish, my dream would be to have a family and so many loved ones I could not begin to name them all."
Well, my little Audrey, your wish has come true and you are no longer alone and never will be again!
"Perhaps strength doesn't reside in having never been broken...but in the courage required to grow strong in the broken places."
Thank you for sharing Audrey's story! She is such a sweet girl, and happy today, living in New York once again! She called me recently, very proud of herself. She was crossing a street there in New York and saw an older man fall in the street. He could not get up by himself and no one was stopping to help him. She rushed over, helped him up and offered to call an ambulance. He wanted only a taxi, which she got for him, and sent him home. This is my Audrey, who works hard, pays her bills, supports herself, and is finally proud to be Audrey! When she was a child, I told her that she certainly had a guardian angel watching over her. Today, there is little doubt in my mind that she is special and God will continue to watch over and protect her, as he once watched over and sheltered the lonely child of my memories.