Looking forward, searching for my biological mother

Emily TopperBy Emily Topper | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Even when I was a kid, the shelves in my room were always overflowing with books. I read everything from The Boxcar Children to The Babysitters’ Club, Tallahassee Higgins to Harriet the Spy. My parents raised me to be a voracious reader, and that’s never changed.

But one book that my parents gave me was a bit different from all the rest: “Why I Chose You” by Gregory Lang.

I’ve always known that I was adopted. While I was growing up, my mom liked to tell the story about the day that she and my dad brought me home from the hospital. They put me down just inside the front door and let our basset hound, Tucker, sniff me before accepting me into “the pack.” From that moment on, we were a family.

What is a family, anyway? As I’ve learned (and as I’ve been taught), it’s much more than a group of related individuals living together. As I’ve grown up, I’ve found my family in many different people: In my parents, of course, who I believe I was fated to be with all along. I’ve found my family in my college friends and their families, who have always welcomed me with open arms. I’ve found my family in my college peers, in the unity of growing with people over the course of four years. There are a lot of different people who have shaped me over the years, but one person has always remained at the back of my mind.

I’ve never met my biological mother, and I know very little about her. She might be blonde. She’s petite. Her name is Penny. My mom (my adoptive mom, but my mom regardless of any blood relation), is wonderful. She has always been very open with me and has told me all the information that she has had about both of my biological parents.

So far, I know that my biological mother and father met while they were in college. They were good friends before she became pregnant. I know that they never married, and that she wanted me to have a good life.

I grew up in a pretty normal environment. I had a great childhood–being adopted was never truly an issue for me, and it wasn’t something I felt weird or embarrassed about. It was just a fact of my life, like having blue eyes or wearing a size 8.5 shoe. In fact, my parents were so normal and open with me about it growing up that I was often taken aback by people who were intrigued about my adoption. To me, it was (and still is) normal.

And although this hasn’t changed since I’ve gotten older, it has at least proven to be a topic of interest. This has especially been the case as I’ve entered my twenties, mostly because I’m close to the age now that my biological mom was when she had me. Of course, I’m grateful for that. Endlessly grateful. But I often find myself thinking: Why?

Why? What made her want to go through with the pregnancy and give birth? What made her decide to not get married or raise me as her own? Did she want that at all? What stopped her, or who? What encouraged her, or who? The older I get, the more questions I have for her. Was she scared when she found out? Happy? Mortified? What did her family say? What did her friend–my biological father–say?

I’ve noticed things about myself as I’ve gotten older–the way I hold my pen, my weird handwriting, my short temper, my terrible singing voice. Are these things inherited? Are they shared affinities that I have with someone I’ve never met, but who has had a great deal of influence on me? Does she share my coffee dependency? My weird habits?

And what about her life? Did she ever get married? Did she have any other children?

I’m at a transitional phase in my life right now. Graduating college, leaving the nest for the last time, entering the workforce. In spite of that, I have a pretty good idea of who I am and who I want to be. But I also want to know where I came from.

I want to find her.

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