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All Of This Almost Never Happened: When You’re Adopted, A Piece Is Still Missing

jennifer and zacharieToday is my wife’s birthday. It’s a bittersweet day, and not because the candles on her cake number more than 40 — my wife is adopted.

Let me rephrase that: today is the most wonderful day in the world because my wife is adopted. On January 14, 1972 four people made a very difficult choice, and it was a choice I will be thankful for forever.

Not only was my wife given up by her birth parents, she was chosen by her adoptive parents. I am thankful every day to all 4 of them.

Still, when you’re adopted there is a piece missing, and my wife looks for that piece every day.

She’s obsessed with who inherited what in our family. She’s always saying how our boys have my grandmother’s nose, or my dad’s legs. We know who my family is, so there’s a frame of reference there. Still, there’s a side of the equation that is empty. People often ask where our boys get their crazy curls from, and we look at each other blankly.

Now that we have children together, it’s not just my wife that is missing a backstory, my boys are missing half of theirs too.

I’m filling out the forms to get her adoption documents from the Ontario government. It could include identifying information that could lead her to finding the people who created her. It’s hard to call them ‘parents’. The people who raised her are her Mother and Father, of that there is no doubt.

She was born in Kitchener, so we’ve just taken to calling her birth mother and father “The Kitcheners” as if they were a neighbor, or family friend.

I always find myself at a loss for descriptors when it comes to talking about that teen couple who made the decision to give up their baby girl for the shot at a better life. You remember what it was like when you had your children; the emotion that sweeps over you and cripples your knees, and the joyful tears that endlessly flow from seeing a piece of you in the world. Now imagine not even holding your child or worse, having a few minutes with it before an official comes in and takes that baby away. Forever.

The “wonder” that would possess me for the rest of my life would border on obsessive. Today I wonder what The Kitcheners are thinking about.

My wife has always been hesitant to find them. On one hand she is curious, but she feels it is disrespectful to her parents, the people who raised her. She’d never want to erase, or replace them from her life, but at the same time .. .. she has wondered. With that wonderment came fear. Fear of opening a Pandora’s Box that could never be closed. Once you make that contact, you can’t go back to the way things were.

Part of her had planned to wait until her parents passed away before looking for the people who conceived her. This week I’m filling out the forms to start the process that will help her complete her puzzle. She may not send them in right away, but they will be ready for the day she is.

I admit I bring up The Kitcheners a lot more than she does. She is happy with the family she has known her entire life. Her parents are her parents, her brothers (also adopted from different families) are her brothers. There is no debate. Her family is her REAL family. But still… I would like her to find those other people.

Mostly, I want to meet The Kitcheners to say thank you. I can’t imagine having a child pulled from my hands and given away, but they did it. They made the most selfless gift one can ever give. They gave their daughter a chance at a life they acknowledged they couldn’t provide. They gave me a family.

All of this almost never happened. But it did. And I am so so grateful. Today is a very happy day in our house, all thanks to The Kitcheners. Wherever they are. Whoever they are.

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