Well, can you imagine my surprise when I was about 6 or 7 when my brother said that to me and I went running to my mother crying? And her response was, “Well, actually, yes, you are.” And as I’m about to become even more hysterical, my mother turns to my brother and says, “So are you.” So that day, we both got pies in our faces because neither one of us knew the other was adopted but only one of us was trying to be the sibling playing a joke with it.
So since I was a little girl, I’ve known I was adopted since birth. A week after I was born, the two people I know as my parents put me in their arms and never looked back.
I had never known my birth parents and never had a desire to find them either. Those two people who adopted me through Catholic Charities, have and always will be my parents who cared for me and raised me my entire life.
Growing up, I would get asked all the time by classmates and friends, “Don’t you want to meet your real mother?” “Do you know your birth parents?” “Don’t you want to ask your birth mother why she gave you up?”
Curiosity never got the best of me until I was older and was about to have children of my own. Then my curiosity was only about their medical history. I never got the urge to want to reconnect with these strangers who were responsible for my existence because in my mind that’s all they were to me. When I was younger, I used to think what if I find them and they are super rich or something, will I be angry because I didn’t have that life?
Not at all. My family may not have been rich, but we did not want for much as children. My brother and I would still found tons of presents under the tree at Christmas, received cars around our 16th birthdays (okay,so mine was a ’88 Ford Escort, but it was a car with four wheels) and help when we needed it. But what is a family? To me, it does not necessarily mean it is held together by the blood you share but rather the lives melded together that become one whether through adoption, friendship, blood or circumstances that hold people together.
My parents were two hard-working people who married later in life and wanted a family. My brother and I were the result of their love and desire for a family that they may not have been able to have naturally. We were adopted at two separate times, which makes us only related through the lives we’ve shared for the last 37 years. And that’s good enough for me because he is my brother, no matter what anyone says. We talk alike, act alike and even tend to have the same mannerisms according to his own children.
Throughout my life, I had always wanted to have children of my own. But it never dawned on me how much it would affect me until I held my son for the first time and looked into his eyes. Those eyes that looked exactly like mine, along with so many other features about this little baby boy staring back at me, waiting for me to take care of him and just love him for the rest of his life.
I was taken aback by the whole moment because I had never thought about the whole idea of this child being a part of me, which was unique after being a part of an adoptive family since birth. This child was my own flesh and blood. A product of love, but also a true resemblance of my husband and I with all of our characteristics and mannerisms.
I look at both my sons now and see the similarities in everything they do and how they look, and always find amazement in the miracle of life. And it does make me stop every now and then and wonder do I look like my birth mother or my birth father? Who’s eyes did I get? Who’s horrible nose did I get? Did one of them have my same dimples?
But then I stop and think after all this time, I look like me. And that’s okay with me because if those other questions are never answered then I will never be any the wiser and I’ll still be able to go about my life.
After my father died, I often felt out-of-place around my family because I always looked so similar to my father since we both shared the dark tan skin, dark hair and Polynesian features. And my mother, brother, sister-in-law and nieces are all very fair-skinned and either blonde, brown or red-headed. So I began to feel like I didn’t fit. But my mother will always be my mother and my brother will always be my brother, no matter the complexion of our skin or the color of our hair.
Being adopted is just another thing about me that I often forget unless brought up by someone else because it’s just been a part of me for so long now. When my father died, my heart was torn to pieces because he was my Pop — the man who raised me, held me when I cried, taught me so many things, walked/jogged next to me in the St. Louis Marathon in college, stood next to me on the beach in Hawaii my sophomore year and wept on my shoulder when words escaped him when the disease had finally taken over his entire body. And my heart still mourns for the man who is not here to watch his grandchildren grow up, go on vacations with his wife of over 40 years and see his children grow up to be parents themselves.
Adoption, as defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary means: the act or process of adopting a child; the act or process of beginning to use something new or different; and, the act or process of giving official acceptance or approval to something.
I think that’s what my parents did every day of our lives. Accepted us wholeheartedly, giving us a life that we may never have had if other decisions were made and took a chance by beginning something new and different — becoming a family.