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Sherry Thomas – Baker City – Part 2 of 2

Sherry talked with us about travel and family. In Part 2, she talks about family connections and complications.

“I was always interested in learning more about my birth family and I met them when I was 30. Since I’m 72 now, I’ve known them most of my life. In the beginning it was awkward. I wanted to be this amazing person and I just really overdid it. I showed up to meet them wearing a white Saks Fifth Avenue raincoat with boots that had never seen dirt or concrete. I was such a fool! It wasn’t even who I was. I don’t know what I was doing, but I was nervous. Everybody was nervous.

Sherry and her daughter

My birth parents weren’t married when they learned she was pregnant with me, but they did get married and were married for a few months when they put me up for adoption. They stayed married and had four more children. So I went from being an only child to being the eldest of five. It was a big learning experience – how to be a part of this new family, but also remembering that I loved my adoptive parents so much and I couldn’t pretend that they weren’t my parents. It was complicated. I was 30, but it probably would have been better if I was 40 or 50. I was close to my adoptive parents at the end of their lives, spent a lot of time with them and always tried to be respectful, but I think they kind of understood that I had this other family relationship, especially with my sister. My birth father is still alive at 92 and he’s just amazing. He was a pharmacist, but also a jazz musician. He’s still in two jazz bands in Bend and they performed at senior centers and had gigs all over the place before the pandemic.”

Sherry’s birth father

What do you think about the nature versus nurture debate (whether human behavior is determined by the environment or genes)?

“I’d say it’s like 95% nature, but that will make some people angry! I think that you can help bring out people’s best qualities with nurturing. My sister is extremely shy. Apparently I was extraordinarily shy too, but my adoptive mother pushed me and she had only one child to focus on so I stopped being shy. You can look at any family and say the children are very different even though they were raised by the same parents. So how does that happen? I honestly believe that a whole bunch of the way we are is kind of set at the beginning.”