Hearing About Adoption And A Specific Kind Of Otherness Helps To Round Out Some Life Stories
For editor Aaron Schwartz, wanting to listen to more adoption narratives or make literary connections to his birth family was a search for community that never negated his joy with the life and family he gained.By Aaron SchwartzApr 26, 2019 10:58 AM
I don't remember my parents telling me I was adopted. It was never a secret -- not that it could've been given that you can see Latin America in every part of me, especially standing in the midst of my Jewish family. But I don't think it was ever really one big revelatory conversation like you'd see in the sitcom version of my life. I guess it came out more as bits and pieces as time went on, and it took the form of answers to questions I had about why I looked different than every other kid I knew. Honestly, it's not something I really think much about until it comes up with someone, which almost always leads to the same questions delivered in the same order every time:
Have you ever met your "real" family?
Do you want to?
Is this too personal?
My family is my family and that's that. And I'd say I've done a pretty good job reconciling my history with my current life. But I feel there's a heaviness in my bones that I can't help but carry with me throughout my life whether I'm conscious of it or not. I think we all have an inherited weight like that in some form--lives and worlds that happened before you, formed you, and haunt you--that you have no power over. For me, it's a history about the people and the things that made me that I'll never know. People who would've loved me and who I would've loved had there been a chance. Even having people in my life who I could look at and see part of myself in.
I've been very lucky in my life. I've traveled, made friends, fallen in love, developed passions, graduated college, got a job, and I'm even in graduate school right now (which is a real surprise to everyone, trust me). None of that would have been possible without my generous, supportive, and kind family. They've given me the life my biological mother hoped I'd have--the kind she couldn't. But there are some days, some random moments every now and then, when I can feel that weight in me get a little heavier like, Remember me? And it reminds me that still, in some way, I'm an island.
Something I think I could've benefited from while growing up is the knowledge that my situation wasn't an anomaly. I could still use a reminder of that sometimes. We all want to feel seen and understood. Even though adoption isn't as taboo a subject as it used to be, I still find myself searching for stories--both fiction and nonfiction--that have an adoption narrative that resonates for me and I keep coming up short. Although this isn't a long list, I want to share these stories with you because they helped me carry the weight and maybe they can help you.