The Slip

You are an 18 year old adoptee. You have your birth mother’s name and phone number in your hand…


I finally have it. For years, I had longed to know where I came from; I wondered who my birth parents were. When Pamela, I mean mother, would tell me I couldn’t go to a friend’s party, I would scream “You’re not my real mother!” I felt liberated for a minute, but shortly after, a sense of regret. Pamela and her husband Jack didn’t have to adopt me. Through all the gray clouds and misery that surrounded the abandoned-looking foster care building, they saw a future with me. The Dawson family has sent me to great schools, provided me with delicious dinners and nice clothes, and this fall I’ll be attending Stanford. But yesterday, Pamela and Jack sat me down, on my 18th birthday, and handed me a piece of paper. Pamela’s ginger hair tossed over her shoulder “It took us a while to find this information, but we thought you might want this. And now that you’re an adult…” The slip of paper read: Rebecca Sargent (413) 555-8687. “This is your birth mother.” The words seemed to roll off of her tongue like molasses.

I haven’t stopped staring at the slip of paper ever since. When I ate breakfast, there it was, next to my cereal bowl. When I brushed my teeth, I had the paper taped to the bathroom mirror. When I changed into today’s outfit, the paper stayed glued to my hand because my thoughts can’t stop circling. Curiosity continues to ask me “What is she like?” I close my eyes and start to paint her on a canvas. Does her hair sit on her shoulders or grace her lower back? Do I have her nose? Her smile? What does she do for a living? Is she researching cures for cancer? Or starring in Broadway productions? What would her scent be like when my body crashed into her arms? Or what if she smokes crack on the street corner? Has she been in prison? Does she have a family of her own? Does she have a son that she tells “I love you” to every night? Would she accept me for who I am?

I open my eyes and start to face a dilemma. I start to play with the slip of paper between my fingers, revisiting thoughts I’ve had about this beautiful stranger. But then, a piece of advice from Pamela’s mother, I mean my grandmother, comes to mind: You can’t fix something that isn’t broken. I start to smile as I thought about the vacations I went on with the Dawson family, the sports games they attended, and all of the times they were there for me when I needed them. I run downstairs and stop dead in my tracks when I see Pamela. “What’s wrong hunny?” she asks me with a concerned tone. I throw the slip of paper inconspicuously behind me in the trash. “I just wanted to say I love you mom.” In that moment I knew that what I was constantly searching for, I always had in front of me.


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