I’ll never forget the date January 8th. One year ago, a complete stranger in a different country heard my story and took time from her full-time job, her husband, and her children to help someone she’d never met and would insist on nothing in return. (All she asked was I do something nice for someone else and insisted she wasn’t special, she just had a “very specialized skillset.”) She did in 3 days what I wasn’t able to do in 30 years. And one year ago today I got the text I NEVER thought I’d see. She found him. And she sent a photo.
I cannot describe what it feels like to see your father’s face for the first time. I was on the couch and the lights were off, TV on, and the whole world stopped. I didn’t think I looked like him. But then she sent another photo. And another. And I look a lot like him.
And while perhaps hearing his voice for the first time (higher pitched than I anticipated, with such a strong accent it’s funny we are related) should be bigger than the moment I got his name and photo, it’s not. Talking to him for the first time was definitely a major day in my life. But I am not sure anything can compare to seeing a name and a face. In that moment, I became whole. The lopsided, half-empty feeling I had everyday of my life, suddenly filled. I was a whole and complete person for the first time in my life. And to each and every one of you who told me “This doesnt change you. You are the same person you were yesterday” – YOU. ARE. WRONG. I am not the same person I was. I am whole. I have my identity. And unless you have not had the right to your own identity before, do not tell me what I should feel.
I live in a country that is supposed to be free, but its also one of the ONLY countries in the world to not have regulation or laws guaranteeing children of their right to identity (something the UN says is an undeniable right, but the US was the only country not to ratify this human rights treaty). My identity has given me things I have never had in my life. I have confidence. I have good self esteem. And while I have my bad days, I like myself and I am happy.
So regardless of the ending, I now have something that can never be taken from me again, something I should have had the moment I was born. I have also learned that when your WILDEST MOST IMPOSSIBLE dreams come true, ANYTHING is possible. I believe each person’s mind is their own universe – and my universal paradigms have changed. And if you take anything away from this, let it be this: children ARE humans, just because they are smaller than you doesn’t mean they don’t have their own complex thoughts and reasoning. The things any normal adult comes to understand, children learn to understand. Children are not accessories. Children are real people even when they don’t know how to talk. Children think things even when they don’t tell you they do. Children understand more than you think. And all children deserve the very basic foundation of knowing who they are and where they come from.