We’ve all heard that it’s a small world, but I never realized how small until last year.
I was adopted from Colombia. The parents I live with today knew they wanted a little girl, and they also wanted to better someone’s life, so they decided to adopt. One day, they got a phone call about a baby girl in Colombia who had just been born and needed a family. Soon, they were on a plane to Bogota.
I have lived a completely normal childhood knowing that the people I call Mom and Dad are my “real parents” because I love them and they love me. I never met my birth parents and really didn’t know anything about them until one afternoon when I casually asked my mom if I had any biological siblings that I could contact one day. She gave me a worried look, and then said that she had planned to wait until I was 18 to give me the information, but she thought I was old enough.
My mother explained that I had two biological brothers living in the area and then took out some Christmas cards and letters that one had sent me years ago. The letters contained pictures of my oldest brother when he was four and I couldn’t believe how much of myself I saw in him. My mom told me that she had waited to tell me because she didn’t want me to be confused, but as time passed it got harder since she didn’t want me to think that she was trying to keep a secret. I had to be understanding. My parents never want anything but the best for me - I might have done the same thing.
Reading the letters, I became so emotional. I didn’t know what to do, so I wrote him a letter, hoping that he could still be reached at this address even though he was 20. I included my phone number and some pictures. I was taking a risk when I sent that letter. He might have wanted nothing to do with me, for all I knew, but curiosity got the best of me.
About a week later, I was watching TV when my cell phone rang, displaying a number I’d never seen before. I answered and a guy with a quiet voice told me he was my brother. I was stunned. Speaking to someone whom I was so close to, but had never met, gave me the most startled, tender feeling I have ever had. We talked for a while and he said I had another brother who was 18 and lived only 15 minutes away. Imagine, living so near and not knowing it.
As time passed, we all began to talk on the phone. They already knew each other, so that helped us feel comfortable. We made plans to meet at a restaurant with our families. Immediately, we felt a connection that keeps us in touch to this day.
While we were talking over lunch my younger brother said something that shocked me. I used to go to my aunt’s shore house every summer and made many friends there. Everybody in Ocean Beach knew me. This is where things get weird. My brother told me that he used to stay on the street right next to my aunt’s. And if that’s not coincidence enough, his sister, who is a year younger than me and also adopted from Colombia, used to come home complaining that kids at the beach called her Susie! Now we realize that kids were confusing her with me! It’s amazing what a small world it really is.
The brother I grew up with, who is not biologically related, is first and foremost my family. He was not adopted and is about 15 years older than me. I bring this up because I want to make it clear that even though I have found new links to my past in meeting my biological siblings, there is no way I could ever replace the brother I had growing up.
Now that my brother has children of his own and I am their aunt, our bond is even stronger. When I found out about my biological brothers, I was worried that meeting them would change the way my brother felt about me. I didn’t want him to think I was replacing him, but he was so happy for me and I realized how much he really cares for me. The experience of meeting my biological brothers brought my love for the family I was raised in to a new level. I have never been more grateful to have such a large support system in my life.
Meeting members of the family I came from gave me a sense of completeness; it’s like there were pieces to the puzzle that I could never find but finally did.
When we all met, I learned a lot more about my family in Colombia, what my life would have been like, and most of all, I learned that people will do extraordinary things in the name of love. My birth mother was so selfless that she gave up her children so that we would have better lives. She stayed in a poor, corrupt country and didn’t want us to struggle, so she gave us to people who would love and take care of us the way she thought we deserved.
Every time I mention that I am adopted, people give me a look of pity as if that’s a bad thing. What I’ve learned is that it is anything but a bad thing. It is a blessing. I was so loved that my birth mother gave me up to give me a better life. I know that my adoptive parents wanted me with all their hearts. Going to a scary country to bring me into their lives proves that family means a lot more than whose blood you share. I feel I have the best of both worlds. I couldn’t ask for a better family, and now that I know my biological siblings, I have a connection to my roots and am finally able to see things that once were a complete mystery.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.