This past weekend I taught a workshop to at Umoja, a camp in Wisconsin, a state that was recently tagged as the worst place to raise black kids (...and yes, I did wear a Dear White People T-shirt with a pencil skirt!). The workshop fostered great conversation, and "ah-ha!" moments amongst the group were plentiful. After finishing, I was ready to take a long shower and retreat back to the safety of my room, after publicly wading through the still murky waters of my own story, mixed with the current events and societal "post-racial" truths. However, before I made it out the door, up the hill and to my room in the lodge, I was approached by a beautiful 21 year old woman and her parents. She timidly asked that we take a photo together, then nervously handed me a sealed envelope. With a confident, rehearsed voice she stated; "I wrote you a letter. It's okay if you don't have time to read it right now."
I did have time.
I receive numerous electronic messages after movie screenings, giving a keynote or presenting at a conference, but rarely do I receive letters with my name handwritten on the outside of the envelope. I am a sucker for old-fashioned letters, and will happily dole out my attention to a fellow adoptee. I found a private spot where I knew I wouldn't be interrupted and began reading.
Natalie shared with me how she recently found her birthmother on Facebook, explaining that she was able to do this because,
"I had her full name, I thank God for that every day."
Although Natalie viewed me as a public figure, I saw a woman not too dissimilar from me. Her words could've been mine;
"I was so used to feeling like an island, thinking that perhaps I'd never see myself in someone else, until I had children of my own. I carried my adoption with me every day. I thought about my biological mother for as long as I can remember. I wrote journals about her, who she might be, where she was, why I was put up for adoption, and of course I wondered what she looked like."
Natalie is an adoptee with a beautiful [adoptive] familial base, who is entering adulthood and trying to learn what being an adoptee means for her identity.
This was confirmed when reading through her letter and learning that her "birth was kept a secret" and that although learning this information "...was hard, it was what [I} wanted to hear as well."
Us adoptees are resilient creatures - we simply want to know our truth, however painful it may be. Thank you for sharing with me how you "...go through ups and downs since finding [your] biological family..." I do too, Natalie.
She concluded the three page letter by thanking me for sharing my raw self with the world via Closure, and commending me for that, as she hadn't heard many adoptees speak out. Natalie, your voice has now been shared too! Others will read these snippets of your letter and will feel the courage to bravely move forward in seeking their own truths as well.
Bravo, Natalie. Bravo!
*** This post was written with express written permission from Natalie ***