I am adopted. It struck me several weeks ago that the phrase “I am adopted” partially defines who I am, just like, “I am also smart” and “I am old.”

It really hit me when I was with a young woman who is a dear friend of my family. She is adopted. She knew that I was also adopted. As we were both willing to talk, the bond began. We spoke like two English people who connect in a foreign country where they don’t know the indigenous language. There were understandings between us that are known only to those who are adopted. We assured one another that being adopted isn’t bad, it’s just different. You have parallel “selves” who exist in different DNA strains. Nature or nurture. These questions have a special meaning for those of us who are adopted.

My two sisters are biological. Funny sounding, isn’t it? For me, the fact that they are biological is something I rarely forget. It is easier with my older sister. She has always been in my life.

My older sister was seven years old when I was brought to her home in a station wagon rather than carried by a stork. She has always told me stories about the day I arrived. She tells me that she was excited and had been waiting for a baby sister for some time.

The station wagon pulled into the driveway. The door opened and a lady got out. She reached back into the car and lifted out a baby. She tells me she had gifts for me to make me feel welcome. She is the record of my “birth” into my family.

My younger sister was born when I was 5 years old. I knew she was biological. My mother had been pregnant, and then this beautiful baby with curly dark hair came to our home. I learned later that my mother had more than one miscarriage. I understand that in the 1950’s it was common for a woman who had more than one miscarriage to assume that she could have no more children. So, if you wanted a larger family, you looked to adoption. Many times us adoptees come into a family to heal a loss of another baby. Other times, we come into a family because our first parents weren’t able to care for us. Sometimes it is our first parents’ choice– other times, not. The theme of loss is inescapable.

Surprise! My mother could have more children. Biologicals. The children of preference. Maybe they didn’t need me anymore now that they had another biological

I am adopted. I was loved in my second family. My adopted family. I love them with all of my heart. My life circumstances were certainly better, given my first mother’s choice. I have no regrets. Still, I am adopted and it is different than being biological.

Our stories are often hidden or made to be “prettier” than they are on paper. It is important for us to embrace our stories. Because they are ours. They are real and they are beautiful.