As a transracially adopted person, many things in my life take on additional layers and meaning; my identity, my relationships and my hair. Holidays are no different.
I’ve barely recovered from my birthday at the end of October and before we know it, it is time for Thanksgiving. Then, the turkey-induced coma has barely worn off and it is time for Christmas. Yes, there is great joy and cherished time with family and loved ones but there is also very often, quiet, sometimes lonely reflection that is wrapped up in these holidays.
Let’s start with the most personal of holidays: birthdays. The day we are to celebrate our coming into the world. Depending on your traditions and maybe your age, commemorating the day you were born can be varied but for the majority of Americans, this is the day that you are expected to celebrate. For me and many of my adopted friends, this is a complicated day, right up there with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
While it is certainly a day to celebrate my life and being on the planet, it is also a day that is filled with palpable questions, confusion and emotion. Even as I feel the joy of being alive and the deep love of my family and friends, I can’t help but think about my birth mother and wonder when she was alive, did she think of me on my birthday? Did she feel a similar ache on that day? And while I did not ever meet her again as an adult, did we at least share in that?
My late October birthday that falls just shy of Halloween gives way to November and one of the most family-centric holidays of all: Thanksgiving. At the center of the table is the turkey dinner but the connections and conversations around the table are what sustain us. Inevitably, the moments of relative comparison come — gosh Mackenzie, Kyle and Cooper look so much like Dawn and Dawn looks so much like Grandma and Grandma looks so much like Great Grandma Ellie. These very basic, often unconscious moments are standard fare for biological families.
For the extended family of adoption, specifically for some adopted people who were separated from their biological families and don’t look like anyone around the table, these…