Who am I?
Well, I am still trying to answer that question.
Since you’re here and still reading, let’s try to figure this out together, shall we?
My name is Jennifer. I was born in the 70s. I know that I was premature, and spent my earliest days in the hot box…aka, an incubator. I have seen a few fuzzy Polaroids from those days, and I looked shell-shocked and alone.
Ah, the early days of an adoptee, no?
I was adopted…at birth? And I went home with my adoptive parents once my birth-weight stabilized and I was big enough to be on my own. I have always been big enough and on my own, figuratively speaking. My parents live in a lovely suburb, I have an older brother (also adopted), and I had a normal childhood. Played sports, took dance lessons, went to private schools — all the bells and whistles. I can’t say I recall ever feeling like my life was lacking anything, just maybe that something was missing. A longing for something I could never quite name, or put my finger on. In hindsight, that was a longing for the knowledge of my birth family; I didn’t understand it. I was still “in the fog.”
Flash forward to college. I used to sneak online and do internet searches for my birth family when no one was home. I felt devious. Rebellious. As soon as I would type in the information, my heart would race, and my ears would pound. The slightest creaking of the floors would make me panic and shut down the computer. I didn’t want to get caught. I was supposed to be happy. Fulfilled. I should be grateful, right?
If you’re an adoptee, you understand how those three little words can genuinely make your stomach lurch. Just be grateful. It is what we are taught from day 1; being “rescued” or “saved,” not aborted, should be enough, right? So. Just be grateful.
I was working too much and ended up dropping out of college. I met a guy, ran off, and got married. Moved to the other side of the country and had a baby. That fell apart, so I moved home.
Are you with me?
Once I became a Mother, that nagging little voice in the back of my head got louder. It was screaming now. WHO AM I? I am the black sheep. The college flunkie. That Sesame Street – “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things doesn’t belong”. The odd person out. The last one picked for every game of dodge ball EVER. But dodge ball was the game of life. My life. I was dodging bullets trying to pierce my skin every day, dodging being told to be the round peg in the square hole. Not necessarily by my parents. But, rather, by society. I couldn’t see through the fog. Yet.
I went on to remarry and have two more kids. Then I got sick. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. Yes, I had post-partum depression. Yes, inside, I was miserable and having an identity crisis. But a physical ailment? This illness was new — unknown territory. I was alone in the rough waters and sinking fast. “Tell us your family medical history,” the doctors would say. To which I would blankly respond: I don’t have any. I am adopted.
I am a blank slate.
But am I?
Flash forward. I finally got the courage to reach out to a search angel. As my luck would have it, she had a copy of the birth registry for my birth date. She held the key to Pandora’s box. She gave me my birth last name – let’s call it “X” (because, privacy). I was Baby Girl X. I wasn’t ready to face the truth…I wasn’t prepared to radically alter my path. So I tucked the information away, in my little back pocket of denial for another day.
Four years later. I reached out again to a new search angel. Same last name. This time I was stronger. I was ready. I had connected to a support group of adult adoptees and met other unicorns just like myself. Yes! UNICORNS. Magical, mythical, almost unreal adults out there in the real world thriving, despite the abyss that is one’s knowledge of their origin. Their heritage. Their truth. OTHER BLANK SLATES.
I did some googling. I connected some dots. I suppose it was simple, and I was fortunate. Was this chance? No. I don’t believe in luck. I don’t believe in coincidence. This discovery was an alignment of the stars. My ancestors were reaching from beyond the grave.
Pulling me back…back to myself. Back, home.
Long story short, I am now in reunion. Fast forward yet again, four more years later, and here I am. I have biological parents who are married. A sister and brother. People who care and give me the space I need to walk the tightrope that is adoption.
I have long since accepted that I walk the line between two lives that only another adoptee could ever understand. It is the line that divides what IS and what could have been.
Now you know. This is my rabbit hole. Take a look around, pull up a chair. Make yourself comfortable; the fun is just beginning.