Daily contradictions in a life filled with complicated realities. Painful memories have been triggered by the news that push to intrude into my mind instead of staying firmly in the past. Simple welcome memories that pop into my head that bring me joy in the middle of a mundane task in one moment, to fear of what lies ahead, to sheer awe at what someone did, sometimes even for me. Days when I’m caught unaware by a rush of nostalgia that washes over me sparked by a simple object or picture that caught my eye, quickly dampened by the collision of other memories and knowledge of that time intruding to remind me that life really wasn’t that simple, or good.
That, to me is my life right now, a series of ever-changing and overlapping feelings brought forth from what I am experiencing right now, the deep ugly that is coming out of the woodwork of society, the degrading of civil discourse, the sheer racism being spewed from every corner. And if it’s exhausting for me living in my sheltered life, I can’t imagine what the level of exhaustion must be for People of Color in America. I’m also keenly aware that people keeping their true feelings behind a careful veneer isn’t any better (and perhaps worse) than people being blatant about their true feelings of hatred and distrust for anyone who doesn’t look like they do.
When I feel this overwhelmed with what’s happening in the world today, I take the cowards way out and delve into genealogy, my safe space, while continuing to engage in adoption conversations hoping to share a bit of wisdom, hope, or empathy. This weekend, I delved into the genealogy of my maternal family of birth and came here to write the following.
I was working on my family tree yesterday on ancestry and decided to search the internet for one name. That name linked to a write-up that detailed my great-grandparents, an overview of who they were, what they did, where they lived, their children and who they married, their grandchildren and their spouses and children. A true find as I don’t have the same family stories I’ve heard throughout my life as I do with my family by adoption to guide my research.
I love that I found it, that someone felt inspired to create it for history.
It also stung, and today it still stings, despite the reality is that it is what it is, what families did, they moved on, they didn’t document what else happened, even if they knew. I knew going in that just like reading old letters doing dad’s family tree that I wouldn’t like everything written, that good with the bad is the reality. This journey to know those who came before me and my generation comes at a price, always, although maybe not as in your face as this document was that detailed who my mother married, who her children are, which made me look back up a couple of generations to how many grandchildren and great-grandchildren my great-grandmother had when she passed, that made the sting deepen, but the reality is that I wasn’t there, I wasn’t part of their history.
Adoption and being adopted is complicated – no matter what age. In this instance, family secrets were rightly left out based on what it was created for. It still stung, just like reading grandpa’s letter to his cousin who referred to us as borrowed children stung. Not really part of either in many ways. Not being listed, known about, seen as family, always on the outside looking in at those privileged to be born and raised in the same family, instead, being other.