Paul Kimball, a biracial adoptee, explores his own abandonment issues as he searches and eventually reunites with his birth parents. After a seemingly joyous reunion, his birth mother, a Caucasian professional cellist, rejects him. This causes him to seek out his Armenian birth father who, along with his extended family, accepts him as one of their own.
Paul’s birth parents met at the Hollywood Methodist Church in 1961. Vahe had immigrated from Iraq to California, while Wendy gave cello concerts throughout the United States. After Wendy became pregnant, they decided to have an abortion in Mexico and, upon arrival, changed their minds. As directed by her parents, Wendy had her baby in secret in Fort Bragg. Vahe was told that the baby had been aborted.
After one week with Wendy, Paul was given up for adoption. He was placed in foster care through Children’s Home Society for four and a half months. Being biracial, Paul was considered a “hard to place” baby. The Kimballs, a wonderfully liberal Berkeley family, decided to adopt Paul. On Paul’s first birthday, November 22nd, 1962, he was officially adopted three hours before the assassination of President Kennedy.
Paul became a professional French Horn player, conductor, and music teacher. He had always been deeply moved by the cello, especially the recordings of Jacqueline Du Pre. Music was his life, and cello his therapy.
After marrying and becoming a father of two daughters, Paul searched for his birth mother. Upon learning that she was a cellist, he was even more determined to meet her. After several months and false leads, he found her name in the Musician’s Union directory. This led to a three-hour phone call with birth mother, Wendy.
Paul and Wendy met in L.A. and had a beautiful three-month reunion. That summer, she went to New York to play in an orchestra. While there, she made the decision to keep Paul a secret. She was afraid of being thought of as a “slut.” She stopped all communication. When the horrors of 911 happened, Paul left one last message on her phone. This led Wendy to contact his mother-in-law and let her know that Paul must never contact her again.
In shock, Paul decided to search for his birth father. With some clues provided by Wendy, including his last name, Paul tracked down Vahe through his brother Vasken. On Christmas day, Vasken announced to his extended family that Vahe had an unknown son, much to their astonishment. That evening, Paul called Vasken who handed the phone to Vahe. The first words that Vahe said to him were “Son, I love you!”
For twelve years, Vahe, Paul, and the extended Armenian community got to know and love each other.
Paul kept tabs on Wendy through her summer orchestra’s website. One summer he noticed that she wasn’t listed. He learned through a Facebook message that Wendy had died a few years earlier.
Paul found her gravesite, but no marker, just grass. He decided to design one for her. When the marker was completed, he visited it alone, in tears, while listening to cello music. Paul’s adopted parents and Vahe passed away. His adopted father committed suicide three days after his mother passed while looking at her pictures.
Now that his parents were gone, Paul continued to contemplate his abandonment issues. The realization that we are all human beings, adopted or not, and that we are all a part of nature, has brought much comfort and healing.
Adoptee Author: Paul Kimball
Publication Year: 2020