It’s tempting to unearth information about my childhood with the emotional density of a reporter while leaving the finer points in the dark– easy even, to look at the facts coolly, as though none of it pertains to me.
Every tidbit of information from Sister Theresa is like candy: it packs a sweet or sour punch in the beginning and gives me a rush, but when the initial feelings subside, I wonder if anything in me has changed.
I scrutinize the wounds I’ve worn around for more than two decades to see if any of them are growing faint in the light of my birth dad’s words of love and regret. So far, I don’t think any of the knowledge has made me feel less abandoned, more known, more rooted. But maybe it’s too soon to tell.
When you grow-up in the shadow of parents whose physical traits are not manifested in your own features, you dream about how eye-opening and how wonderful it would be if you only knew what your birth parents were like. As a kid, it was really the only thing I cared about. I guess I thought that if I knew who I resembled, I’d have a better sense of who I was, or where I was going.
I saw photos of my birth dad before Christmas. Sister Theresa asked him to send one and he sent four—each of them taken at significant moments in his life. I laughed when I read her short email because sometimes the English translation is so formal or the spacing is off. “Wow, he looks really nice in the photos! Praise the Lord!”
I feel surprisingly triumphant when I recognize nothing of myself in his features. I see my brother’s face, his frame, my sister’s frown, her nose. I’ve waited so long to see this face, to study it for clues to my past and to my future but I see nothing there to point in any direction and I am glad. I don’t understand it, but it fills me with relief that I can’t identify with the stranger in the photos.