When I was 20 years old I found out a shocking truth about my family. I was not my parents first born child. I was the one born years after their marriage, after their college degrees were earned, after they were both employed, after they had purchased their first home. But before then, there had also been a baby girl, born 12 years earlier. Born to two struggling kids without a cent to their name, only just starting to date, and with parents of their own that probably would have (had they ever found out) forbidden them from the path they felt was the best one to take: giving the child up for adoption.
For 32 years my mother had wondered about that baby girl, and so, one summer day before I headed back to my senior year of college, the two of us went down to the government offices to start a search. (And in life making a full circle, a couple years later my mom headed back to the agency to help my little sister find her own birth parents, albeit a much harder task involving a trip that took them to Korea and various translators.)
It had been a closed adoption but the state reached out to my biological sister and gave her my mom’s contact information, and she eventually called. Having grown up with two fantastic parents of her own, my sister had decided to never look for her biological parents, but after being contacted she got curious. And when she found out about me, she wanted to meet me! So when I was back in Hawaii for Christmas, I got to meet her. And she was fantastic. Chances are she is such a bubbly and open person that she makes anyone feel like they are her sister, but from the very beginning, I just felt like she was family. We haven’t had that much interaction over the years stemming from the 5,000 miles difference and the fact that my trips home are usually jammed packed, but when we do get the chance to get together, it feels so comfortable. Just like it did on Monday night when I met up with her and her daughter for a night out at Dave and Busters. It had been 7 years since we had gotten together and I was terrified. Would it be awkward? Would she hate me? I cursed the fact that I was on antibiotics and therefore couldn’t down a shot to calm my nerves. And then they appeared and it was a fantastic night. Just like it was the last time we were together, on my wedding day, when her daughter was the 3-year-old flower girl in my wedding that was so worried that frogs would jump on my dress (there were no frogs around). And now here she was, 10 years old, and doing math better than I was.
Stupid closed eyes… oh well.