A Family Of My Own
Submitted by indigomom
True confession: I am both happy and sad to have been adopted. While I have never known any other family, I have spent my whole life feeling like I don't quite belong. Maybe this is a common feeling among adoptees, even the lucky ones like me. My parents are kind, generous people of comfortable means, and my sister is one of my closest friends, but sometimes, when I'm sitting with my family, I feel like an outsider looking in. And those moments have been some of the most painful moments of my life
So at age 25, I tracked down my birth mother, a pleasant woman named Leah. Like me, she loves animals and chose a line of work that helps other people. Apparently, I have three half-brothers. I nervously went to visit her, and we shared pictures and stories in her run-down, animal-infested house. Leah had gotten pregnant while in nursing school and didn't think she could raise a child alone. My birth father "took off" after learning she was pregnant. I said something like, "What a jerk!" And yet, I wanted to know more about him: Did I look like him? What was his family like? Ugh, still, so many unknowns. I assured her she'd made the right decision, that everything had worked out just fine. I left there feeling a sense of immediate relief, like I'd somehow dodged a bullet.
I vowed to keep in touch with Leah, but I didn't. I couldn't deal with all the emotions tugging at me: anger, sadness, more loneliness. And it's not like I grew closer to my adoptive family either. I wanted to just live my own life, whatever that was. I got married; we got a couple of German Shepherds. That was sort of a family, right?
But then, in 2005, I gave birth to my own daughter. And something clicked: This is Who I Am. When she was born, an immediate rush of love washed over me. For the first time in my life, I understood what it means to have a family to call my own.
These days, I send my birth mother the occasional email and photos of my little girl. I doubt we'll ever have friendly phone chats and regular dinners. I keep a picture of my three brothers, all standing with their arms around each other, in a dresser drawer. It's obvious we're related, but whenever I look at it, I'm reminded of what I will never have.
It took almost 40 years to get here, but I realize now that my adoption was both a selfless act of love and a wrenching apart of kin that my birth mom and I will carry with us forever. But thanks to my husband, my daughter and all the friends who feel like home, I understand where and to whom I finally belong.