I used to think that I had my mother’s eyes, but I was mistaken.
On April 4th, 2016, I dropped a DNA test in the mail in the hopes of helping a family member pinpoint a medical diagnosis.
Within seconds of the mailbox closing, my mother told me that my results would not be what I was expecting them to be. At the age of 46, I found out that I was adopted and that my family had gone to great lengths to make sure that I would never find out. It felt like I had lost the solid ground beneath me: everything that I thought that I knew about my heritage and family medical history was patently false.
I was still me, and yet I wasn’t.
The Welsh word “Hiraeth” means, “a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past.” I was still me, and yet I grieved that I could not return to the time before I knew the truth.
The best prayer that I could cobble together during this time was, “Lord, what am I supposed to do with this?”
I prayed that daily. In the shower. In the carpool line. I don’t know that I had ever prayed as much as I did during that time, but my prayer was always the same: “Lord, what am I supposed to do with this?” It wasn’t a particularly well-crafted prayer, but the plea came straight from my heart.
As I told my story, people often surprised me with their stories of how adoption had touched their life.
As people shared their own joy and grief, it became subtly apparent what God was calling me to do. I learned as much as I could about the search process, and then I shared that information with those around me hoping to find their own birth families. I helped a few friends with leads that eventually reunited them with their birth family. I spoke with people who had placed their child, now wondering what reunion would be like in an age where a DNA test under $100 could open previously closed doors. “Lord, what am I supposed to do with this?”
I felt it in my bones that I knew exactly what He wanted me to do.
Given my late start in the search for my birth family, I had low expectations of finding them. My DNA results returned 31 days after I sent them in. The following morning, I went to Mass with my children at their school and stopped for a quick bite after. I almost choked on a Chicken Mini when I opened my email. Inside was mail that read,
“Hello, I’m not quite sure how to start this note.”
It was from my birth aunt. In 32 days’ time, I went from not knowing that I was even adopted to finding my birth family. I spoke to my birth mother for the first time that evening, the start of Mother’s Day weekend.
In 2017, I went to San Francisco to meet my birth family, including one of my siblings. I have a place in multiple families now, but I couldn’t have found my way there without God leading me.
“Lord, what am I supposed to do with this?”
He wasn’t done with my instructions. He needed me to forgive my mom for keeping me from the truth. My truth. I was called to forgive, even though it hurt. Even though I couldn’t do it easily. As humans, we often find it much easier to request forgiveness than to extend it; however, extending forgiveness was exactly what I was being called to do.
I find that I still pray “Lord, what am I supposed to do with this,” even about things that aren’t as earth-shattering as finding out that you are adopted. The words come from my heart, and then I listen for His quiet response.