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I’m in my forties, so my parents are getting up there in age. Inevitably, as the circle of life demands, they will someday be gone. Just typing that makes me feel like there’s a rock in the pit of my stomach.

I have been their kid for as long as I can remember. After they’re gone, who will I be? A spouse, a friend–but no longer a daughter. An orphan. I have aunts, uncles, and cousins, but none I am close to either geographically or spiritually. I do not have brothers and sisters.

Well, that’s not entirely accurate.

My parents and I do not share DNA, as they adopted me when I was four months old. A couple of years ago I decided to do a little sleuthing, and I found my birth mother and discovered she had three other children in addition to me. Excited, I sent her a letter, and then sat back and waited. And waited. And then waited some more. The signature on the certified letter proved she had received it, but silence. No response.

After about a year, I sent another letter, including a picture of myself in the hopes it would humanize me, putting a face to a stranger. Nothing. Not even a “buzz off.”

This saddened me, but I don’t blame her. When I was born, Roe v. Wade was still a couple of years from being decided, and there was a stigma attached to out-of-wedlock births. Women who went to homes for unwed mothers, like my biological mother did, were often shamed and encouraged to keep their babies a secret. No man would ever want them if they told. And don’t even think about trying to find the child someday. It would ruin his life.

So, I leave the door open in the hopes that one day she will change her mind, and I’ll be able to have a friendly relationship with her and my siblings. In the meantime, I hold my parents close and cherish the time we have together.

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