I am officially one month away from the launch of my debut memoir, and if I am honest, I am as excited as I am terrified.
My story touches on ideas of family, love, identity, and separation. Putting all of those things together has the potential to make some people uncomfortable. So I am bracing myself, and my family for negativity (that I hope never appears).
When I first set my story to the page, I had one goal; to create a place in the world where my siblings and I could be together. Continue reading
the struggle is real, you guys.
For the first day of November, a.k.a “National Adoption Month”, here’s a bit of advice:
When you get together with your long lost siblings, try to take some group photos without all the significant others.
Nearly a decade since my siblings set has been complete, we still do not have a single photo of all seven us alone/together.
By National Adoption Month 2015, it is my mission to rectify this issue.
Me and Becca (her favorite photo)
For the past nineteen years, my sister Becca has told this story every time she introduces me to her friends. I guess to show them what our relationship is like. The take away as far as I can tell is that I am a person who backs up my words with action (so watch out), and—I hate to say it, but it’s true—sometimes Becca doesn’t know when to shut her mouth.
It was a summer afternoon. Becca was twelve and I was thirteen. Old enough to know better but not yet capable of controlling the surges of hormones and terror that allow an adolescent girl to do things she never imagined she would be capable of.
In the above ground pool in the backyard, Becca and I had run in circles long enough to create a whirlpool and were now slung around flotation devices, letting the current tug us around the sides, under the ladder. The sun was setting and all we had to look forward to once we got out of the water were the indignities of piano practice and washing dishes.
Then out of nowhere Becca started hollering about this boy I liked—Mary Loves Paul Agostini!—and my stomach jumped into my throat. She was just guessing at the name of my crush, but once she saw the look on my face, she knew she’d got me.
So she kept going.
Mary Loves Paul—
Her voice echoed down the street. Anyone could hear her. People on their front lawns. Neighbors grilling dinner. Drivers passing by with their windows open.
Stop it— I said.
I disentangled from my Fun Noodle and tried to cross the pool to dunk Becca’s head under the water, but the current tugged me off course and all I could do was splash her. She was two inches taller than I was, anyway. No previous dunking attempts—even without a whirlpool—had ever been successful.
MARY LOVES PAUL.
Shut UP, I said.
MARY WANTS TO SEE HIS PENIS–
I DO NOT
Her mouth was the problem. If only there was a way to stitch her lips together…and suddenly I heard my voice say:
If you don’t SHUT UP, I’m gonna SPIT….IN. YOUR. MOUTH.
There is a video.
A video that a distant biological relative who I will never know posted on YouTube. It’s from before my Uncle Mac accidentally shot himself in the head; a time capsule from a moment when my family was a vivid, magnetic thing.
The video is from 1982 or 1983. Thirty-two minutes into the footage the camera finds my mother’s face.
My mother, with her brown hair feathered around her forehead, beams in an eggplant sweater. Her bangs fall into her eyes, graze her plump cheeks. Underneath her purple sweater she is pregnant with me or Rebecca, with one of us, depending on if this is 1982 or 1983. Maybe no one else in the room knows, maybe that is what her smile is about when the camera lens finds her.
Or maybe she isn’t pregnant at all. If this is September of 1982—it could be September of 1982—then I am two months old and my mom is not yet pregnant with Rebecca.
I could be reading more into it because I want this thing to be laced with as much meaning as possible, I want to make it a secret message that the universe preserved specifically for me.
it’s like these two were separated at birth or something….
You’d never think that we didn’t even grow up together…..We. Are. Ridiculous.
My sisters Becca and Rebekah, on Facebook….
“After a conversation about making a film noir narrative about the mundane things in life with Rebekah, here is my piece about shaving legs. A bit of hilarity to make up for this mornings epically emo status. Enjoy.: “Sitting in warm, soapy water was always my favorite way to unwind. I slid into the tub like a hand sliding into a warm glove. After taking a moment to let the steam and bubbles seep into my skin, I delicately lifted my razor and slid it up my calf. The razor swiftly dispatched every unwanted hair quickly and efficiently, like a mobster with a tommy gun mowing down a crowd.”
me, with my birth mother, adoptive father, and five of my six biological siblings
While everyone is focused on preparations for Halloween & Dia de Los Muertos, let us not forget that November is National Adoption Month.
According to the latest census, there are 6 million adoptees in the United States. That number is constantly growing as 125,000 families are actively trying to adopt, annually. One in three Americans is impacted by adoption, as a member of a birth family, an adoptive family, or as an adoptee.
So chances are that you know more than one person whose life has been shaped by adoption. Hallmark doesn’t exactly make a card for it…. so here are some ways to participate this November:
- If you are a member of the adoption triad (birth family, adoptee, or adoptive family) join an adoption support group and share your stories
- If you know a family that has recently grown through adoption, make a point to help welcome the new child, just as you would a newborn.
- A wish of ‘good luck’ and support for a friend that may be trying to locate their biological family is always welcome.
- Or, if you are just a supporter you can sign a petition to support access to open adoption records.
Throughout life, we all ‘adopt’ family of various forms– those people who are ‘like’ sisters, mothers, fathers, or brothers to us– so you could also take a moment to thank your own adopted family (in whatever form they take) for putting up with your random array of craziness.
I know I will : )