The thought slipped from my unconscious to my conscious mind for the first time when I was almost fifty-years-old and in the process of falling in love. I was sitting in a chair holding my newborn granddaughter while the nurses fussed around and tended to her mom — my daughter. My heart was so full it ached as I held the perfect baby in my arms, stroked her perfect little hands, drank in the features of her perfect little face, and softly stroked her reddish hair.
My eyes moved back and forth between the flawless baby girl in my arms and my daughter in the hospital bed in front of me, my daughter exhausted from the effort of birthing this baby but with the unmistakable glow of a new mother.
I considered how the events of this day — and of months since we first learned that my daughter was going to have a baby — would be talked about over and over again throughout the years. One day we will share with this child the ultrasound pictures when the features of a baby were first identifiable, and together we will watch the video taken while she was still in utero that shows her moving and even sucking on her thumb.
In the years to come we will tell her about the months when she was growing in her mommy’s belly and how the countenance of her mommy softened during those months she prepared to welcome her baby. We will tell her how her mommy and daddy and those of us in her extended family anticipated her arrival. And we will tell her about this day — January 2, 2009 — when her mommy placed an early-morning phone call to her grandma just before her mommy and daddy went to the hospital, and how her grandma paid an astronomical price for last minute airfare, and how she prayed she would arrive in time to welcome her grandchild into the world.
And as these thoughts flashed through my mind in the space of seconds I realized I had no sense of myself ever having been born.
It is the place where confusion first starts for those of us who have been adopted. There are no stories shared about the day we were born because that day was not a day of celebration for anyone. Instead, we are told about the day we were adopted, the day we were chosen, the truth of our birth is ignored and never spoken of. It’s why I, like many adoptees, have a sense of having been dropped on the earth from outer-space and why, as I now realized, I had no concept of having been born.