I searched, I found, and I keep finding. One door opens to a pathway that leads to more people, more connections, more newfound genetic ties. The ties that bind, sometimes. I was born January 12, 1980, to a woman who was lost, had nobody, and drowned her pain in alcohol. As she lay in that hospital bed, holding me, the friend that brought her to the hospital told her she couldn’t raise a baby. She agreed, and I was placed with Bethany Christian Services. One month later, I was adopted by the Kulaks.

Fast forward 33 years, and I am married with two children and have a burning desire to find out who I am. Using my tenacious personality, and with only her first name and date of birth, I found my birth mom. It took a year, but I found her. It sounds easier said than done. I made assumptions after a while in my search when I was coming up empty-handed. There were dead ends everywhere I turned. I assumed she grew up in northern New Jersey; I assumed she graduated on time in 1958. One day, I was flipping through northern New Jersey yearbooks, and there, in the Bogota High School class of 1958, was my doppelganger. I sent letters to everyone in the United States I could find with her last name. Her first cousin called me, and he told me my mother grew up with the nuns. He gave me the number and address for my uncle. The spelling of the last name was different, more complicated. But I didn’t give up.

As the web of truths untangles, it tangles itself again. I wrote a letter to my uncle with my contact information. While I was at work, he called me. One of the first sentences out of his mouth was “So, I have a niece?” Then, “We have strong, healthy teeth our family does!” So, I found an uncle, and now I understood why I had such good teeth. We talked for over an hour. The hardest conversation I had with him was not that he had a niece he never knew about, but that his sister had died in 1999. He had no idea. He and his sister were estranged and had last spoken in 1963, a few months after their father’s funeral. Turns out he grew up with the family, and when my mom was born, their mom ran off. Grandma couldn’t raise two little kids. So they sent my mom to an orphanage, and she grew up in foster care. It was hard for her to find love, and at times, to even know love. Yet, she made the most loving choice for me: she gave me a chance at an amazing life.

Wanting to become better acquainted with my biological family, I made the trip to Texas to meet my uncle and cousins. I learned I had the family walk. I learned I had the family nose. I learned I had my mother’s eyes. I post photos online sometimes, and a few years ago, a lady who had worked with my birth mom commented that I had her smile. So many mysteries unfolded themselves before my eyes, and I don’t think they are finished unfolding. I think my story is just getting started. I am so thankful I now look like someone and have traits that resemble someone. I am not constantly wondering any longer, “who, what, when, where, or why?” Well, at least for my birth mom’s side. My birth father’s side, well, that story just began telling itself. That is a story for another time.