Most of my friends know that I am adopted. I am very open about this part of my life. Over the years, some have said, “Jada, there’s a story there, and you need to tell it. People need to hear it!” For years, I have balked and drug my heels because several of y’all are real-life authors (i.e. you make your living writing books), and you actually know what you’re doing. And me? Well, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing or where to begin. Not to mention, I didn’t feel that it was my story to share. Well, at least it wasn’t only my story to share. There were other main characters, ya know? Now, however, I am rethinking it all, and taking a cautious, slow step into the unknown. Who knows if it will ever turn into something, or if it will simply be me engaging in creative, therapeutic journaling. Still, I’m putting pen to paper. Well, actually, fingers to keyboard, and I’m free writing. I don’t have all the details, there are gaps in the story, and holes in the timeline. But this? Well, this is my personal experience, and what I know to be true. Here’s the start of what I have.
My husband turns into the parking lot, finds a place to park, and cuts off the ignition. I glance his way. We briefly lock eyes. Then, I quickly turn to face forward. Staring out the window. Sitting in silence. Neither of us saying a word. My hands are trembling. And I am freezing.
Here I am, less than 100 feet from the man who gave me part of my genetic code, and I am seriously shaking, hardly able to catch my breath. I’m closer than ever to getting answers to the plethora of questions that have raced through my mind over the last forty years. Finally, in a place to discover whether or not I inherited ‘the nose’ from him, because it surely doesn’t appear to have come from my biological mother. But more than anything, I simply want to say, “Thanks for letting me live.”
See, I don’t want anything from him. I don’t want to ruin his life, especially if my birth was some deep, dark secret that he’d rather keep hidden in the past. And I surely don’t think he owes me anything. If that were the case, I’d have contacted him twenty years ago whenever I was first told who he was … who I was. But I didn’t do it then. And I’m not so sure I can do it now.
And so we sit. And we wait. In complete silence. Well, other than the sound of my heart practically pounding outside of my chest and the deep breaths I am taking to try and remain calm and grounded.
Thoughts are racing through my mind. What will he think? Will the shock of seeing me cause him to have some sort of medical emergency? I mean, he is living in an assisted care facility. So, he must have some medical issues. And there’s no denying that I am her child because I look just like her when she was younger. Well, except for that nose. From the photos I’ve seen of him, there’s absolutely no doubt I inherited his nose. For goodness sakes, why did it have to be the nose?
Twenty years ago this summer, I met my biological mom after one of my concerts. A concert that wasn’t even on the schedule at the beginning of the tour. Even more ironic, it was in my home state, which wasn’t even slated to be part of our geographical area, but that all changed two weeks into tour. And that’s how it came to be that I ever even got to meet her.
But I’ve never met him. In fact, I didn’t even know who he was. Then, two years after my biological mother and I met, she passed away. At that time, I was given his name. I’m quite sure he doesn’t know mine. Heck, he may not even know I exist. But how couldn’t he? I mean, all my life, we have lived less than 15 minutes from one another. And once, when my daddy pastored a little country church, we even lived in the same town. To my knowledge, we never crossed paths.
But that all changed a few years ago. That’s when our worlds collided, but I was the only one who knew.
Three years ago, my daddy who has Alzheimer’s was hospitalized with pneumonia. Part of his recovery time was at an assisted living facility. That’s how both of these men, each with significant connections to me, wound up in the same place at the same time. One lived on the residential side of the care facility. The other was temporarily residing on the rehabilitation side.
Two men. One who was my father. The other who was my daddy. One who shared my DNA. The other who shared my life. One who knew me well. The other who didn’t know me at all. One with whom I have shared many real-life memories. The other with whom I have only created imaginary ones in my mind. Neither of them had a clue who the other was, or how their stories intricately intertwined, but I knew.
And here I am. Sitting in the parking lot with my husband who takes my trembling hand into his and leans over to whisper in my ear, “Are you going to go in?”
Robotically, I respond, “I don’t know.”