Having Been Adopted...

... and how I feel about it now, over 50 years later. Regardless of how I might have felt at the time, what I might have wanted or even what might have been better for me in the long run, my future appears to have been neatly arranged for me by complete strangers well before I was even born. Or was it?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Once upon a time… a long time ago…

Once upon a time… a long time ago… in a place way far away… there lived…

All of the bedtime stories my father told began this way. I would wait holding my breath to find out what the story would be about. My favorites were the ones he told about family – about himself as a little boy growing up in post-WWI Los Angeles. Next best were the ones about his parents and how they came to America and those about his grandparents and great-grandparents a very long time ago in the Old Country - in Russia.

One of the best of these was the one of how, a very long time ago, an ancestor performed some small service or task for the Tsar - and as a reward was bestowed a surname – a valuable gift indeed for a Jew in Tsarist Russia. (Unfortunately, my dad didn’t know what his ancestor did to be given such a rare reward but the story was pretty good anyway.)

As a child, I often wondered what my own stories were and where they began. As young as I was, I knew that the wonderful stories my father told weren’t mine, too. Not really truly. I knew they ended with him and that they would go no further.

I knew my story didn’t start with me and I wanted to know where, what and who I came from - what I was made of. Luckily, thankfully, my parents understood this. When I asked, "Who were MY ancestors?" they were very interested and curious, too, but they couldn't answer me. They didn't know.

I looked into the mirror often and asked the question that every adoptee asks at one time or another: "Who do I look like?" I would also ask the girl in the mirror, "Who ARE you? WHAT are you? Where do you come from?" I would study every feature from every angle and wonder what I got from whom. I wanted and needed to know. I HAD to know.

"In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are, and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning, no matter what our attainments in life, there is the most disquieting loneliness."
~~Alex Haley~~


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