Friday, December 11, 2009

I've always known I was adopted. It was never a secret or anything. I know I've written about it here before. When I moved to a new school in the 3rd grade, I met another girl who was adopted...and had almost the exact same situation. We both had younger sisters (who were also in the same grade and I think even born in the same month), and those sisters were the natural children of our adoptive parents. The difference between R and I was that she had no desire to find her birth parents. We would occasionally talk about our adoption, but I was intensely curious about my heritage where she was not.

We were close friends in middle school. Sweet Vally Twins books were really popular at the time, and there was very much a "Unicorn Club" in our lunch room, headed up by M. R was definitely my best friend in that group. I remember sleep overs and birthday parties. My 11th birthday cake even had a unicorn on it. I had permed hair. Anyway, I remember one lunch situation in particular. There was a disabled girl at our school--I can't quite remember but I think she had MS. She had a walker, but also got around in a motorized wheel chair. By the 8th grade, she only had the chair. For lunch, though, she needed someone to eat with her, take her to the bathroom after, and help her get to class. Teachers picked a student to sit with her on a four week rotation. I was asked. I didn't know how to tell my usual lunch crowd, so I said, "I need a change in friends" like a tactless prat and went to sit with A. I don't know why I didn't tell them why I was moving. I mean, I don't think it was a secret or anything. But I was in the 5th grade and an idiot and uncomfortable in that situation. To this day, the dumbest things come out of my mouth when I'm uncomfortable.

So, I sat with A and a few others who would stray to that table. She was very sweet, and I felt horrible that she couldn't get around on her own. I enjoyed my time there. But when my obligation was up, I went back to my usual table. As soon as I sat down my first lunch back, M and the other girls stood up. M said, "We need a change in friends." The entire table left me there alone and went to a different empty table. R didn't stand up right away. She just looked at me apologetically then sat at the new table. Even at that time I knew it would've been social suicide if she'd stayed, and I was just grateful that she didn't hate me. We still played together after school. It never affected our friendship. I found another group to sit with. I still had friends.

Then high school reordered everything, as high school tends to do. I was in the band. This meant summer rehearsals (yes, band camp), after school rehearsals, Friday night football games and Saturday competitions. I also did plays when I was cast. R and I lost touch. We were always friendly with each other, but we never were as close as we'd been when we were younger. I couldn't even tell you if she played sports in school or where she went to college or what she studied. It's been years since we've talked.

The summer after graduation, I met my birth family. I *think* I remember telling R about it, but it happened so long ago that I'm not sure. We had a mutual friend in K, so she may have filled R in on the goings-on of my life. We became facebook friends in the past year, but never really got back in touch with each other. Just a friendly hello when we were friended, but nothing after that.

Until last week. She sent me a long note.

Her birth parents had contacted her adoptive parents and they wanted to meet her. She wanted to know what it was like for me, how it went, and any advice I had. It took me a while to write back to her, because I wanted to really give it some thought. The note I sent back was pretty long. I went over the details from when I met Johnny and Debbie, not remembering if she already knew them. I told her how our relationships have grown and changed over the past 13 years. How we still keep in touch, but not nearly as much as in the beginning. It was flattering that she thought of me and sought out my experience. I can only imagine what this might be like for her. She's included me in a couple of mass updates on the situation. They did meet. It went well. She's flying out to visit them soon. She now has half brothers and sisters and an entire new branch of people to get to know.

I remember very vividly the January afternoon I came home from school. My mom and I had tickets to see a play that night, and I was running late from whatever activity I had. She was on the phone when I walked in the kitchen with this funny look on her face.

"You need to take this call" was all she said as she handed me the phone. She left the kitchen to hang her coat back up in the closet. We would not be attending a play that night.

"Hello?" There was silence on the other end, and I could hear muffled tears. I knew immediately who this was.

"Ashley?" She was so very quiet.



"Wow. Hi. Nice to meet you."


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