Fate, destiny, and luck. Three words to some, three saviors to me. Any adopted child can tell you these words shape the core of our appreciation and embody our sense of vulnerability in the world. I was adopted at birth and I am a living story of fate, destiny and luck.
My mother was unable to conceive a child. She went through miscarriages, fertility treatments, she tried as hard as she could to have a child, but for some reason she couldn’t. Through all her pain and her agony she never lost sight of her dream to have a family. So she turned to adoption. I wasn’t the first child she thought to adopt. Before me there was another child and another birthmother. My mother was excited, nervous and eager to adopt this child, but fate, destiny and luck came into play. The birthmother pulled out at the last second and said she wanted to keep the baby for herself. Devastation hit my mother just as a hurricane hits New Orleans. Her mother died that year as well, but she didn’t lose her sight of having a family. Then that May, the phone rang a different tune in the Henry household. My mother answered the phone and heard the voice of a woman named Sheree, my birthmother. Four months later I was born in Santa Monica Hospital with the name Baby Boy D.G. strapped to my wrist on a hospital wristband. Weighing in at a low birth weight of five pounds six ounces I was the after effect of a mother who smoked while pregnant. Ten months later, after all the court dates and procedures I was officially adopted, and my name was set as Richard Dillon Henry.
Sheree had just graduated from high school and was with her boyfriend in Colorado. When I was named my parents had no idea that the place of my conception was Dillon, Colorado. Sheree is five feet and seven inches tall, with dark skin and dark curly hair. She wore glasses and was of Portuguese ancestry with English ties as well. I have never seen her picture. My birthfather was a Canadian, a tall, pale Irishman from a family of eight children. He left Sheree as soon as he found out she was pregnant. I know little about him and care little for him. Inside me, in the caverns of my heart, I do not love him. Maybe I don’t care for him because he left my birthmother, or maybe because we know so little about him, either way I feel no urgent need to meet him.
I haven’t seen my birthmother since the day after I was born. My mother and her met at a temporary apartment before she left for her home in Colorado. She asked to be with me alone for one last time. She took me into the apartment and only she knows what happened inside thereafter. The feeling I get, when I think of all the mysteries to my life, like this one, is unsettling and mystifying. It’s a feeling of darkness, like trying to read the most important thing in life, when you are blind and cannot see the words. Sheree then returned with me, gave me back to my mother, and I have not seen her since.
I will meet my birthmother one day. Not now, I am nowhere near ready for something like that. At this point in time I could not grasp the full meaning of such a milestone in my life. It is like trying to introduce a toddler to the theories of Rousseau; the child would not be able to comprehend what deep moral values were being presented. Maybe I will be ready after high school, or maybe during college or possibly after that. There is no way to know the future so all I can do is wait and have patience.
Another feeling that only an adopted child could feel is the mystery of their appearance. I have never known the feeling of looking at my parents and seeing my face in theirs. Looking into my birthparents’ faces and seeing mine reflected is an eerie thought to me. I cannot look at old photographs of Steve Henry and see a resemblance to myself. The fact that I look like someone else scares me; I don’t know what that would be like. Seeing my birthparents’ faces will be like being given a portal into the past. My parents and my little sister are white like the clouds that roam our sky and I am dark like sand after the ocean tide glides swiftly across it. I don’t feel ostracized by this, I never have, rather I embrace it. It gives me a sense of individuality that cannot be taken away. But in the end it all comes down to my roots. I have no strong sense of my past; all I have is what I see in the present.
The most inspiring feeling is the reality of where I would be if fate, destiny, and luck hadn’t crossed my path in this exact manor. Whether or not I would have survived with a poor nineteen-year-old single mother. Or what values I would have been raised with. What opportunities I would have been presented with? What scares me the most is what would I have become and who would I be without my adoption? Being adopted is being filled constantly with questions that you will never know the answers to.