Molly - WOW what a beautiful story. I was trying to see what you've been up to since you haven't been around the OP forum much. And I came upon this amazing post in your usual articulate, prosaic clear thinking style.
What an exciting time to be re-united with your family! Especially knowing it's something you've been aching for all your life. There's an old saying that goes "You can have whatever you want in life - you just can't have it all at the same time." It's a relief when you finally get the missing piece.
Biological families aren't always everything they're made out to be either. My story is like the reverse of yours. Happy beginning - sad ending.
(skip to the bottom if easily bored)
I was raised in an idyllic, middle class beachfront home in San Diego with a Leave it to Beaver type close nit family. My parents were both well known entertainers, had a wide social circle and eventually became wealthy with my father's real estate investments.
Long painful story not so short - after my father died (I was 19 or 20), my sister set out to alienate me from the family to enjoy my mother's sole affection and of course money. She did this by making up endless victimization stories about me that my mother would not allow me to even question.
And these stories persisted on a daily basis for decades even after we moved 2000 miles away. After I married someone my mother really admired, my sister became jealous, stories ensued and now my wife is to blame for all the family and even some of the worlds problems.
Somehow we all made the effort to endure each other over the years (and why not - my sister received million dollar houses and million dollar businesses - and we were told to try lottery tickets.) But unfortunately one year we were having Christmas together, my kids were spying on my mother and sister and overheard (you guessed it) horrendous false stories about them (aged 6) supposedly victimizing her daughter (aged 4).
I wasn't about to let this abuse infect the next generation so I completely stopped talking to my sister after I heard, and thus my mother has completely stopped talking to me, my wife, or her grandkids.
The moral of this story is organic families may seem idyllic if you don't have one - but can be far from nurturing and even tragic if you do. I'm glad to hear you're having your happy ending towards the end - where it belongs. ;)
Congrats again Molly! (and thanks for indulging me)