I am 24 years old and I am standing before my brother. He, too, is in California and in college. I can’t stop staring and I tell myself I need to say something. How does one begin to find words, let alone, utter words when meeting your brother for the first time? He is 19 and just recently found out he has an older sister. This newness to each other now becomes a similar and shared experience. A first for both of us. I don’t think he looks like me or really is like the me of then at all. I see someone who was kept while I was the one given away. That thought passes quickly through my head and is replaced with how I never, ever, imagined that I had a biological brother who shared the same mother and father as I do.
By the time I entered Central Michigan University in my junior year, I had decided to complete my undergraduate degree with a Communication Disorders Major and a Child Development minor. It is here, at this time, in this place, that I again begin to wonder about who I am? Maybe for non-adoptees, this is not a question that gets asked of themselves or keeps getting asked as years go by, but I know for most adoptees, myself included, it was a recurring inquiry. I certainly knew a lot about me. I knew my adoptive name, I knew my birthdate, I knew who brought me home at 13 months of age, and I knew who my Creator and Savior were. I knew who my adoptive family was and I knew who my friends were. I knew where I grew up and all the moves that followed I knew who my husband was and I knew who my in-laws were. However, after watching a Nova movie called, The Miracle of Life in one of my first college-level child development classes, I left the room crying. My twenty-two year old self didn’t know all that was off in heart and head or exactly why a movie about conception, pregnancy, and birth would be what later, I could identify as an emotional “trigger”. I just knew that I HAD to know more about who carried me in utero, who journeyed with me those first 9 months, and helped me grow into that baby who became ready to enter the world outside the womb. I wanted to know what I did not know. I wanted to know how much I weighed at birth? How long I was and who first held me? I wanted to know who fed me, changed my diapers, and did my first mom ever get to hold me? I wondered what my name might have been before it was changed, forever sealed, and hid from me? I wondered who was my first father? Where did my birth parents live and were they even alive? I wondered where I lived for the first 12 months after I left the hospital? My parents had always told me I had lived in foster care, with foster parents who were older, for that first year because there was a hold on my adoption. I wondered who those brave and kind people were and how incredibly sad my 13 month old self must have been to be separated from the only “parents” I’d ever known. How incredibly horrific that a not yet toddler had to endure separation from not just one mother, but from two.
My brother looks just like me, I think, as we sit in a restaurant looking at newly developed pictures of us both. My mom. Our mom kept saying we did, but my brother and I would just look at each other and shrug. She had the visual advantage of seeing us side by side, both at the same time, walking and talking together. What was not seen at first by either of us, is glaringly clear in our side to side poses presented in our sill images on a photograph. I notice then, when I look down, we share the same long fingers. Further conversation reveals we have the same long toes and similar oval-shaped faces. We point out our noses and those same beautiful eyes that all three of us share and I smile. I smile inside and outside and all around as I feel the pieces of who I am coming together.