How Much Does Where You Come From Matter?


Sometimes, you have to think there is some reason why you don’t get the things you want. You don’t get to keep that person you fell madly in love with when you were 17. You don’t get to know what it feels like to land that dream job and walk through that revolving glass door five days a week in your stylish suit and Manolo Blahniks. And, sometimes, you don’t get to know what it’s like to know your family.

I’ve experienced all of those, and while they all sting, the last stings the most.

The average person doesn’t know how lucky they are. The people they grow up around are their flesh and blood – they share his nose or her skin tone. Sure, I have a family, and I have for as long as I can remember. Those months spent family-less don’t count, because I was too small to remember them. I know I am lucky; that a lot of people in my position grew up in the foster system, and I know nothing about that life. I don’t know what it’s like to live like that. But I also don’t know what it’s like to know where I came from, and that can fuel a lot of feelings well into adulthood … the need for attention, the need to be loved unconditionally … I think it has caused me to push a lot of people, especially men, away. I’m clingy, I’m needy, I need reassurance.

I don’t like these things about myself. In fact, I hate them. I try to work on them consciously on a daily basis. But, nonetheless, they are constant demons that I struggle with.
After some serious internal thinking, it all stems back to this one thing. Someone – a someone who created me – didn’t want me. There is no getting around that. Yes, I realize that she did the “right” thing … she gave me life. That’s huge, and something I could never thank her enough for. She gave me the opportunity to have great people to raise me and that could give me a better life than she thought she could. All appreciated. However, when I turned 23, I decided to find her. I have this hollow feeling, not knowing where I came from. I need to know. What might I look like in 15 years? What were my grandparents like? What is my heritage? Do you know what it is like to be in elementary school, learning about different cultures, and having no idea what yours is? It seems silly, insignificant. But it creates an identity crisis that never quite gets resolved. You’re different. You can’t just go home and say, “Hey, where are our ancestors from?” Because, ultimately, they aren’t your ancestors. If your brother needed a kidney transplant, you probably wouldn’t be a match for him. The little things that set you apart can become huge if you let them.

I digress. To contact someone like this … it is the ultimate butterfly-in-the-stomach experience. Will she talk to me? Does she want me now? You become five years old again in your mind. You set yourself up for the ultimate rejection – again – and you just trust with blind faith that this time, something different will happen. Well, it didn’t happen for me. She didn’t want me then, either, 23 years later. She acted like she might – stringing me along for a few months, making sure she knew every piece of information about me that was non-identifying – then she just bailed out of my life again, like she had never been there at all.

It’s complicated, I am sure. She has a family now. Another family. One I am not a part of, even though I am her flesh and blood. They might not even know I exist. I don’t know. And I can imagine that she went through a lot to do what she did for me, and she has emotions I could never even begin to understand. But she is the only flesh and blood I have. She has all of hers with her, or she did at some point. I live my life in the dark, wondering and dwelling on what could be.

Another rabbit hole I could jump down is, how much of that stuff even matters? Does it matter, really, whether your ancestors are German, English or something else? Does it matter whose nose you have, or whose eyes? I guess, really, it doesn’t. I am who I am, and I know none of those things. But, alternatively, who could I be if I did?

I’ve waited four years since my last attempt to contact her. Tricky little closed adoptions; everything has to go through the agency that you came from. I’m trying again. My hopes are not up this time. I’m almost 30 now. I don’t have any faith that she will respond to me. But, in the back of my mind, I can’t help but see this playing out like a movie with a happy ending. Only time will tell.