Finding the Family | Teen Ink

Finding the Family

June 18, 2011
By ZoeK. GOLD, Mechanicsville, Maryland
ZoeK. GOLD, Mechanicsville, Maryland
16 articles 5 photos 1 comment

So…I’m adopted. I’ve always known I was adopted. I was given up for adoption when I was 6 (and a half) years old. I was in a foster home for about a year I didn’t get adopted into a permanent family until I was almost 8. I remember because it was exactly 1 month from my birthday. I wasn’t given up because I had some drug addict parents or anything crazy like that. Okay here’s the story of my parents.

My parents met in 1987. My dad was 17 and my mom was 15. My dad moved to Chicago where my mom lived all her life. They were both in the same math class. My moms always been great at math (I wish that had passed onto me) which is why she was a sophomore in a senior’s class. They fell in love instantly! They dated all through high school. Neither of them went to college. They got married in the summer of 1992.

During their marriage, they moved to Kansas City, which is where I was born. They lived in a cute little 2 bedroom cottage. It even had the white picket fence and everything! It was the perfect house! I loved that house! I lived there until I was about 4. When I was 4 my mom died. The only memories I have of her are her beautiful long blonde hair. Her cooking in the kitchen laughing while my dad tossed me up in the air while I giggled wildly. I also remember playing in the yard while my mom gardened with her floral gardening gloves and her straw sunhat. My mom died the fall of 98’. She died in a car crash. It wasn’t even her fault. She was hit by a drunk driver in the middle of the night. She died instantly. After that we moved to Manhattan, New York.

You would think living in Manhattan would be totally cool. Well its not. For one, I was 4, so I couldn’t really do anything. Also it’s really, really loud. There are always honking cars! Car horns should be illegal in New York! I lived there for 2 years. ON September 11th 2001, my world came crashing down. I lost my father. My father died in 9/11, he was a firefighter helping at the twin towers. At least he died saving other peoples lives. Since both my parents died, I was then given up for adoption.

I went to a place called St. John’s Orphanage (SJO). It was okay there. There aren’t many orphanages around anymore, so it was okay compared to other places. I lived there for about a month. They moved me to a foster home. I had to say good-bye to Debrah Harris and hello to Debrah Torren. The Torren’s were a nice couple but they still weren’t “home” to me. The Torren’s lived in a 3 bedroom condo, right in the middle of New York City. They brought me back to their place. Turns out they had another foster kid. Her name was Abigail.

Abigail was 13 years old with beautiful blonde hair, which was usually straightened to the middle of her back. She also had magnificent blue eyes, so light they were almost gray. She usually wore a little bit of eye liner and mascara but that’s it. Abby was the prettiest person id ever seen! Then again, I was only 6, but even then I had wished I looked just like her when I’m older. Not only was she gorgeous, but he was also exceedingly kind. Abby immediately became my role model.

After a week of being at their house, they put me into a private school. Mother Judith Elementary to be exact. It was the most expensive school in New York. It had kids from there becoming CEO’s, lawyers, and other high paying jobs. I made friends quickly there. My best friend was a girl named Elizabeth Lucy Arson, but everyone called her Ela for her initials. She had cute little blonde curly hair which was usually in these adorable pig tails or down around her shoulders, making her look like an angel. She also had deep chocolate colored eyes. To this day Ela remains my best friend.

Nothing really happened the nest couple of years, till one day (1 month from my birthday) I got home from school to find 2 strangers in my living room. They had a bunch of suite cases. The Torren’s sat me down and explained that I was no longer their daughter, Debrah Torren. I was now Debrah Briggem. Making my name Debrah Elliouse Briggem, so either way, I was Deb. Great. Well I’d been preparing for this day for 2 years, so I wasn’t going to burst out crying. I was going to miss Abby though. (The Torren’s ended up adopting her a few months after I left because she had been with them 9 years and they couldn’t stand to lose her.) Abby promised to keep in touch, so I was okay with moving.

The Briggem’s lived only 3 miles from the Torren’s. They agreed to let me see Abby and them whenever I wanted. They also promised to keep me at MJE since it was close, and amazing school. That way I wouldn’t have to leave my friends. I loved the Briggem’s home! It was in a building with a bakery on the 1st floor. Turns out they owned the bakery, so the other 3 floors in the building were theirs. They had 4 bedrooms; I took the last one left. It was on the 4th floor with the other 2 kids’ rooms. My parent’s room was on the 3rd floor. My room was in between the other 2 rooms. There were 2 bathrooms on that floor, but nothing else.

Me and Emily shared a bathroom while Dennis had his own that was attached to his room. Emily was 8, only 3 months younger than me. Dennis had just turned 14 in March. He was in 8th grade while me and Emily were in 2nd. Emily had hair black as night with eyes as green as emeralds, which I found cool since that was her birthstone. Her hair was cut just above her shoulders, straight as a board. Dennis had light brown hair with hazel eyes. His hair always reminded me of Drake from the nickelodeon show Drake and Josh. I always loved that show. While me on the other hand, had beach blonde hair with blue-green eyes. My hair was also straight as a board. It was so obvious we were all adopted. I learned Emily was from New Jersey. Dennis was from Texas but moved to Long Island a few years before his mom died. She died from over dosing on anti-depressants. He never really knew his dad since his mom refused to tell Dennis about him. Emily’s parents were teens who couldn’t handle her so they gave her up, but she still sees them every few months.

Well we are all still a happy family, even though Dennis graduated. He went to New York University, where he is getting his law degree. He’s going to be an international lawyer. He already speaks Spanish, French, Italian, German and some Japanese. He wants to learn more languages though. Me and Emily are 16, in 10th grade. It’s the 4th quarter for us. I’m in average classes, so is Emily, we’re both cheerleaders. I’m also in drama which Emily may try out for next year. Our school has the best drama team. People become actors/actresses all the time from out school.

You know, being adopted has never really bothered me till we started this play where the main character was adopted, but her birth parents ended up being royalty. I know I’m not going to be royalty, but I want to find my real grandparents and any aunts, uncles, cousins, etc., that I might have. That’s when me, Emily and Ela decided to take a trip to Chicago, back to where my parents grew up. Thankfully, mom and dad told me what street they lived on and everything! It’s weird though, it’s like they knew this would happen. So as soon as summer break started, we packed our bags, borrowed Ela’s RV, and headed off to Chicago!
“What do you think they’ll be like?” asked Ela, who was driving.
“Hopefully nice!” I yelled between bites of my sandwich.
“Well I know that!” laughed Ela, throwing a pillow at me, almost knocking over my favorite brand of grape soda. “Like are they going to be rich with a huge house and gardeners, or just boring middle class? Oh! Or will they be celebrities!”
“Ela it’s Chicago not Hollywood.” mumbled Emily half asleep.
“Hmm, I worry about you Ela. You still have the same imagination as when I first met you…in kinder garden!”
“That’s why you love me!
We all started laughing so hard, we started to cry. I am so glad my friends are in this with me! After 8 hours of driving, me switching with Ela after 4, we decided to pull into a restaurant and get something to eat. It was 6 p.m. so most places were open.
“How about Italian?” asked Emily.
“No!” yelled me and Ela simultaneously.
“Why not?!” cried Emily looking like a little kid getting their cookies taken from them for a whole week.
“You always want Italian! Let’s go get Mexican!” I suggested.
“Yummy!” said Ela.
“Fine.” Mumbled Emily disappointed.

We pulled into the closest Mexican restaurant we saw. We hit the road again at 7. This time Emily drove. We drove till 11 p.m., then decided to call it a night. We went to bed; I was the 1st to wake up so I got dressed, brushed my teeth and hair, then started driving. I drove the last 2 hours of the way. When Ela and Emily woke up we decided to rent a car so we didn’t have to drive the huge RV around.
“Can we rent a Mustang?!” asked Ela eagerly.
“No Ela, we need a fuel efficient car.” I sighed.
“Oh, you’re no fun!”

We decided on a blue Jeep Compass. After renting it for a week we started toward Sindle Road. That’s where my mom grew up. We found the house number I wrote down from the thing I kept to remember my parents. We read the name on the mailbox. It said Swan. That’s my mom’s maiden name. My heart sank. It was so real now! Emily must have seen my face.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” whispered Emily.
“Yeah, Em, we came all this way I have to do it. Wish me luck.” I mumbled, getting out of the car.
I walked to the door of a cute 2-floored, yellow house, with a perfect lawn. I took a couple of deep breaths. I rang the doorbell. A woman looking like she was in her mid-60s answered.
“Hello!” the woman said cheerfully, “how may–” she cut off, covering her mouth with her hand.

“Grandma?” I whispered.

“John!” the woman yelled.

A man looking also mid 60’s came to the door.

“What is–” he stopped when he saw me, “Oh my goodness.”

They told me to come inside. They took me into a small but adorable living room. No one said anything for a few minutes.

“How’d you know it’s me? You haven’t seen me since I was 5.” I said.

“You look exactly like your mother. Exactly like her.” said my grandma.

“Really? Mom was so beautiful! Do I really look like her?”
“Yes sweetheart, just like her, you could be her twin!”
We were talking with them for hours. After introducing Emily and Ela, I mean I couldn’t just leave them out in the car. We finally left at 8:50 p.m. Emily, Ela and I all got into the car. No one said anything till we got back to the RV.
“So…ready to go see your dad’s family tomorrow?” asked Emily.
“No!” I yelled, “I think I’ll save them till the end of the summer. Or maybe even next year!”
We all laughed. We talked about what had all happened for an hour or so, and then decided to go to bed. The next day we returned the car and started back toward home. I’d had enough family reunions for one week!
“Hey, let’s go to Pittsburg!” I exclaimed.
“Okay!” said Emily and Ela simultaneously.
So instead of a week or 2 of getting to know family I’d never even met, I spent 1 or 2 days. We ended up having a great time in Pittsburg! I can honestly say…best summer ever! Okay, till next when I meet the Harris family and who knows, maybe a major detour to D.C.!

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