This is an open letter to my parents. To the ones I’ve never met who share my DNA, and to my adoptive parents to whom I owe everything.
You, my adoptive parents, grinned as I tore back the white and gold paper from the 23andMe DNA test kit.
“Do you love it?” you asked me.
I nodded, contemplating the box in my hands. You see, to me, you’ve always been my parents. I’ve never wanted you to doubt that, so I actively avoided the bio-parents topic for, well, forever. The only time I ever asked you for details about my bio-parents was when I had to do that health history project in high school because I didn’t want to fail the assignment. It was the only time I asked, but it wasn’t the only time I wondered.
I knew from a young age I was different from the rest of the family.
In fact, I can’t remember ever being told I was adopted, it just felt like something I had known forever. My brown skin and unruly curls, paired with the oft-disguised surprise expressed by others when seeing me with the both of you (my white parents) together for the first time, was evidence enough for a quiet little girl obsessed with detail.
Despite how different I felt, a feeling that plagued me for many years, I never went a single day feeling unloved. Through everything, you were there for me. The questionable fashion choices, the off-beat hobbies, the decisions, the indecisions, the mistakes, both minor and grave, you were always there to catch me, to lift me up, to push me further than I ever thought I could go.
Thank you for everything you’ve done and continue to do for me. You are my mom and dad, and you always will be.
Opening the 23andMe kit, I thought also of you, my bio-parents.
I don’t know your names, or what you look like, or even if you’re alive, but I thought about the little details I’d collected over the years: a Nigerian-born, college football-playing father; a Scranton Irish, college student mother; a chance encounter, or was it a failed relationship?
Do we share any traits? Do you like to read as much as I do? Are you sensitive to caffeine? Do you love to travel? Which one of you passed down the adult acne gene to me, and can we talk about that, please?
I sometimes wonder about the what-ifs. What if I had grown up with people who could tell me more about me? Would I have spent so much time figuring out how to love myself? Who would I be?
Do the what-ifs ever keep you up at night? Do you wonder how your life would be different if you hadn’t decided to give me to my adoptive parents? Do you ever wonder what I’m doing now? I guess I just want to know if my thoughts are reciprocated.
Putting my saliva-filled test tube in the mail, I wondered if this could be the answer to any of these questions. I’d seen stories about adopted children and children of sperm-donors running into their bio-relatives after submitting DNA samples.
But it also gave me pause; sometimes not knowing anything is better than knowing the whole story.
One piece of the story I know for certain is that twenty-three years ago you made the life-changing decision to give me to my adoptive parents, the most incredible, loving couple, so that I could live the most incredible life. And for that, I will be eternally grateful.
All my love,