The Hapstall case brings up all sorts of memories for Michaela. Unlike Caleb and Catherine, she is the same race as her parents so it isn’t as obvious, but she is also adopted. And now the suggestion of finding their biological parents for the purposes of creating an alternate theory for the murders is bringing up feelings she thought she had buried long ago.
While Michaela’s parents never hid the fact she was adopted, once she reached high school they actively tried to dissuade her from learning about her biological parents. While logically she knows that they were most likely trying to protect her from what she would find, it also made her more determined to learn about them.
And that’s exactly what she did in college. Part of her hoped she’d find some idealistic story of a couple that had a child too young and stayed together after making the sacrifice that would allow their child to have a better upbringing. In reality, the only part of Michaela’s fairy tale that matched reality is that her birth mother was young. Very young. And while she willingly gave her daughter up for adoption at birth, Michaela suspects the reasoning was less altruistic and more selfish. The handful of arrests for solicitation that occurred during the years following seem to back that up.
As her birth mother hadn’t listed her biological father’s name on any official documents, Michaela had thought that she’d reached a dead end there, but then she found the lawsuit filed when she was three. The one contesting her adoption because proper consent hadn’t obtained. Intrigued, Michaela looked into it, though clearly she knew how it ended as she hadn’t been removed from her parents. It turns out that the case was dismissed when DNA testing proved that this man wasn’t her biological father, but that didn’t make what she found any less horrifying. When seeing that he was much older than her birth mother, she originally assumed that he had been a client – or maybe even her pimp – but then she kept reading and started to feel sick. The man alleging to be her biological father was her birth mother’s uncle. He had been unable to contest the adoption as it had happened as he had been serving time for the statutory rape that he believed had impregnated his niece. When the judge threw out the case, he made it clear that even if this man had been Michaela’s father, he never would have allowed him to raise a child, especially a female child. Against her better judgment, Michaela looked up the case that sent him to prison. While he had originally been charged with rape, he had been allowed to plead to the much lesser charge statutory rape. While there is no explanation in the file, given her pre-law curriculum, Michaela knows that means they could prove intercourse, but they couldn’t prove lack of consent. Given that the man was later imprisoned for raping another young female relative, she starts to wonder if her birth mother’s motives were less selfish than she originally thought. However, she was afraid of what she’d find if she dug any deeper.
The next time she sees her parents, Michaela hugs them tighter than usual. Sure they were strict at times, but they also were always there for her. And now that she knows the kind of life they rescued her from, she appreciated them even more. That’s why she got so upset when Aiden’s mother wanted her to sign the pre-nup. Because the background she refers to isn’t that of Michaela’s upbringing but rather that of her biological parents. Michaela doesn’t know how the woman that almost became her mother-in-law learned that, but it’s a clear violation of her privacy.
Given what she learned when she went digging, she understands why Caleb and Catherine don’t want to pursue any theories regarding their biological parents. Sometimes you’re better off not knowing.