“You were almost adopted.”
On a leisurely drive into town on Sunday afternoon my grandmother began spilling secrets. They were big secrets. Twenty-years of pressure had these secrets rattling around in her throat and spewing out of her mouth like the molten lava currently blanketing Iceland.
These secrets scorched my ears and left my brain foggy with ash.
“You mean, I was adopted? By y’all?”
She hesitated and I could tell that no, she wasn’t talking about their adopting me. I swallowed a thick lump in my throat and returned my gaze to the scenes passing by outside.
The low volume of the radio did nothing to dissipate the tense conversation.
Finally, she started to tell the story again.
“You were almost adopted. Your mother found an agency before you were born. Picked out a family.”
“And this woman, the woman who was supposed to adopt you, paid for everything. She paid for your mother’s doctors appointments, her apartment, everything. When your mom had you, the woman flew down from New York to be there. She flew all the way to Louisiana.”
The secrets kept coming, flowing out faster and faster, getting hotter and hotter, and the pressure in the car was steeping higher and higher.
“I kept hoping your mom would change her mind. I kept praying that once she had the C-section and saw you, she would change her mind.”
“Yes, she did. And I had to go tell the woman in the waiting room that your mom had changed her mind and she didn’t get to have you.”
“What was she like? The woman?”
“I don’t know much. She was a single woman, a biochemical something or other, and she lived in New York City.”
--Deep breath in. Process information. Deep breath out.--
“I almost lived in New York.”
“I almost had a different family. A different life.”
The pressure was too much. It exploded out of my body in the form of shaking hands and a quivering brain.
I don’t know what was harder to grasp—that I was unwanted, or that my life could have been 100% different.
I have been through a lot in my short life. I have had very definitive moments that have truly shaped who I am, what I stand for, what my divine purpose is. (And I truly believe that we each have one, and that finding out what it is is the most glorious thing on earth.)
Out of all of those things—even the surgery—nothing has shook me quite as much as the thought, “What would my life have been like?”
Who would I be? Where would I be? Who would my family be? My friends? Would I be in college?
The cancer scare/surgery would probably still have happened to me. Would I have developed the same relationship with God that I did during that trial?
It’s bizarre to think about a life I almost had. She was in the hospital.
She had a ticket back to New York City on a plane I should have been on. She had a house with a nursery painted pink and soft cotton onesies hanging in the closet.
I almost didn’t have this family. I almost didn’t have these best friends. Those groups of people make me who I am. To think of a life without them?
I don’t regret knowing, though. Not at all. I learned a lot on that Sunday afternoon drive.
First, every decision we make affects the rest of our lives. My mom could have handed me over to a completely different life, but she chose not to, and here I sit, writing this blog in my living room, my family asleep down the hall.
I also now have a greater appreciation for the people in my life. I didn’t realize how great my love was for them—how much they mean to me, how much they have shaped me—until I faced a life I could have had without them.
I wonder what that woman is doing now. I hope she found a baby to adopt.
One thing I know for sure?
I’m happy where I am.