One of the most basic questions every child asks is “Who am I?” The answer is usually provided early on from parents sharing about their family, their heritage, and history. As an adopted child, I didn’t have any of that information and was left for many years with the question of “Who am I?” remaining unanswered.
A couple of years ago, I resolved to seek an answer to that question. After a lot of work, I was able to obtain my original birth certificate (They are sealed when a child is adopted). Having only a name and birthday, I sought out to find my birth mother. As the new year began, I made a phone call to a person in Phoenix, Arizona, who could potentially be my biological mother. I got an answering machine and left the awkward message that I was born on July 7, 1972 in Chicago and I think she may be my birth mother and to call me if she would like to communicate with me. Nearly a week later, I received a return phone call. She told me that she knew this day would come eventually and was glad that I had reached out. For the next two years, we called each other on holidays and birthdays, but the conversations were always short and sometimes awkward. As the new year approached this year, I took a chance and offered to fly out to Phoenix to meet her if she was willing. She said yes!
On Friday evening, January 3, I got on a plane and flew from Detroit to Phoenix. I arrived at midnight and prepared to meet my mother for the first time. On Saturday, I called her house and asked where she wanted to meet. She said she would pick me up around noon and we would go to a park, where we could spend the day together and talk. Around 2:30 she arrived to pick me up. After an embrace, I asked if we could get our picture together to remember the moment. She explained that she had tried to gather the courage to walk out the door for several hours. I knew how she felt, because I was nervous as well. Both of us had been thinking the same thing all morning….What if I am a disappointment?
As we sat on the bench under the Arizona sun, I asked if I could write in a journal as I asked her questions, because my mind was so scattered, I wouldn’t be able to remember a thing. She agreed and I asked questions ranging from her childhood and adult life, to the family history and our heritage, to the details of my adoption. I felt like a reporter getting information and it actually helped take some of the emotional stress off both of us. She then asked about my life and my adoptive family. During the visit, I shared a picture book I had made for her of my years growing up and a CD of music I had written and performed several years ago. She then shared with me pictures of herself through the years and gave me three stones that represented meaningful moments in her life. After several hours, we went to Olive Garden, where we enjoyed a meal together and continued our conversation. After the meal, we took another picture together, this one feeling much more comfortable with one another. She dropped me off at the hotel and I told her I would call her when I landed in Detroit the next day. I did and we agreed to continue visits each year.
Part of me was glad that it was such a whirlwind trip, with a return to school the very next day. It helped me process the experience, without too much downtime. What did I discover? I discovered a lot of facts about my biological parents and my heritage. I discovered that I really miss my parents who raised me and who have since passed away. Most importantly, I discovered the answer to the question, “Who am I?“. I’m a person who is grateful for the blessings and people in my life. I’m a person who makes A LOT of mistakes, but wants to continually improve myself. I’m a person who now knows that who we are is not defined by our past, but by our hearts, our dreams, and our actions.
Waiting to meet for the first time.
Famous people who were adopted
Steve Jobs, Ray Liotta, Dave Thomas, Sarah McLachlan, Faith Hill, Moses & of course Superman