Last Year's Gift
Last Christmas my husband gifted me a 23 and me kit. All the records from my adoption have been sealed. This being my last and only resort to finding a relative.
The box has sat unopened on my fireplace mantle since. Yearning with curiosity at the same time filled with fear of the unknown. I glance at it from time to time. Sometimes daily. Picking it up every time I dust. Swiping the dust from the unbroken plastic wrapped around it.
There’s little I know about my birth mother, other than the information she left me with. A letter describing her likes and interests. Explaining she had red hair and blue eyes and her height and weight at the time of my birth so I can hold onto a picture of her in my minds eyes.
This last weekend we put up our Christmas tree. As we decorated, I saw the reflection of the Christmas lights bounce off the plastic wrap like a flash. As my son and I hung our family ornaments, the ones I make each year since he was born of our Christmas photos. Being in the here and now with the family I created, while the question of where I came from perched on the fireplace mantle.
My son, now 8, having no idea of my history. Looking at him smile with Christmas excitement and delight as he hangs ornaments on the tree. As I look past his smile at his red hair draping over his blue eyes. Unsure of how I should tell him. How I would explain.
I remember the moment my mother told me. I was around the same age as my son. Remembering her words.
I didn’t have you. I chose you.
In my young mind picturing a huge baby super store where she walked through aisle after aisle with a cart, looking at baby after baby and “choosing” which one she wanted.
My mother broke my imagining by saying, “So, you’re adopted.”
I looked back at her eyes staring intensely back at me eagerly waiting my response. Feeling the pressure to give one, while at the same time appreciating how gently she was telling me and reading how worried she was, I finally replied, “I know.”
Never fully understanding why I responded that way, only knowing I wasn’t shocked. Somehow, I innately already knew.
Yesterday, I asked my son if he knew what adoption meant.
His response, “Yeah. It means rescued. Like a dog from a shelter.”
The word rescue taking me by surprise. Feeling the power and truth in his words.
“Yes.” I say, nodding. “Well, I’m adopted.”
I sat back, curious and eager, awaiting his reply. His red hair falling at the top of his blue eyes as they gazed back. Seeing my mother's genes living vividly in front of me. Keeping her ever so present.
“I figured,” he said in a matter of fact way as if I had asked him to pass the butter.
“You did?” I ask curiously. Noticing his reaction was so similar to mine as a child. “What do you mean?” I continued, now intrigued.
“Papa doesn’t treat you like you are his kid… He doesn’t treat you like you treat me.”
I pause, letting his words and their reality sink in as he asks, “Wait, am I adopted?”
“No.” I immediately say with a smile. “You were brewed in my belly.”
“I figured.” He repeats with a smile.
His reaction and words confirming so much, validating so many emotions and seeing his response as authentically as mine. Realizing how similar we are. Realizing he is the only blood relative I have ever met. Wondering if there are more of us. Igniting the yearning to meet more of our tribe. To search for more similarities as he continues sweetly smiling back at me with his red hair and squinting blue eyes. Wondering if that was why I felt the same as a child. Seeing I was treated differently, but also recognizing how I have been rescued in so many other ways. Seeing the comfort in my life, feeling the magic of this moment and feeling it is time to go back to the mantle and unwrap last years gift.