It is August, 1993. I am 24 years old and I am alone on a plane to California. I am in the middle of graduate school at Central Michigan University and thankful for the reprieve from studying and the constant wondering that wanders through my head day and night. What will she look like? What will she think of me? Will I meet her expectations. Will I be enough? Will she be everything I have imagined? Will I want to turn around and head back home? I am nervous. I can hardly sit still. I try to read. I try to watch a movie. I try to sleep. None is possible for any length of time and the 5 and 1/2 hour flight stretches on. Friendly flight attendants strike up a conversation with me and become enthralled with my story. “You are meeting your mom?” “Where does she live?” “What does she do?” “Aren’t you excited?” I think yes. I say yes. I want to throw up.
I remember being told I was adopted at a young age, but cannot recall that exact moment in my story. My parents never hid that truth from me. They told me often and they told me what they knew about my adoption, about how they chose me, about how they wanted a girl. They told me they loved me and they told me I was special. They told me my three brothers even had to tell the judge in Colorado that yes, they too, wanted a sister. They told me my first mom was in college, she couldn’t take care of me, and so she “put me up” for adoption. She wasn’t married. She didn’t have choices. That is what I was told. I imagined her in my head many times. Did I have her nose? Her eyes? Did I look like her? I imagined her alone. I imagined her sad. I imagined her missing me. I imagined her, one day, finding me. Or one day, I would go and find her.
My plane lands. I pray. I ask God to calm me. To give the peace that passes all understanding. I take deep breaths and I don’t want to budge. I knew I wanted to do this trip alone, despite numerous offers from friends and family to accompany me on the journey. I didn’t want interference or distractions on this excursion. I’m now wondering if that was such a wise decision. I am in the back of the plane and I get up and begin to move forward. Step by step by step. It is horrible and wonderful all at the same time. No where to go, but forward. Plane emptying little by little. Person by person. My friendly flight attendants wish me “good luck” and are all grins as I step onto the jetway. I stop there. My life will be changing in moments. I have looked for “her” for years. A racing, rolling, ever-changing emotional roller coaster that at times I just had to stop, get off, and take a break so I could breathe again. Adoptees experience this roller coaster in similar ways. The search becomes all-consuming; a most scary, horrific, wonderful, and exasperating ride to find the whole of our selves. I did not want to birth my own children, hold my own children, continue a family line, that I knew so little about. Those thoughts take up residence and I walk on down that jetway to the gate where I knew she would be waiting.
I enter boarding area C, gate 48 and look around. This is back when security gates and guards did not stop people from coming and going from terminal to terminal, from gate to gate, meeting and greeting friends and family, and saying their good byes. It is also a time before many cell phones were being used and so I just had to look. No texting. No calling. Only senses searching. My eyes scan the boarding area and I am looking for that person who I have imagined. I am looking for my first mom. I am looking around, for the first time in twenty-four years, for someone who just might look like me. Many adoptees, who have not yet reunited, look around often for someone who might share similar physical features as their own. We also stare in mirrors wondering whose DNA has expressed itself in the image reflected back to us. I know immediately when I see her; she is my mom. She knows too. Our eyes lock. Feet proceed forward toward family finally found. It has been a long separation. Twenty-four years is too long of a time for mother and daughter to be apart I can’t stop looking at her eyes. They are my eyes. They are her eyes. Those beautiful blue eyes belong to us.
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