A Journey to My Roots.
by Jen B.
Growing up my parents always tried their best to provide for me and keep me safe. I had a warm, cozy house, that was always full and never knew what it was like to struggle financially or be “less fortunate.” My mom always kept the house clean, cooked and worked hard to take care of us. My father worked long hours to provide the best life he could for my brother and I but no matter how many meals, or warm blankets I had, no matter how much love or how many things I was given, a part of me felt like it was missing something. And it was. That’s just facts.
My name is Jennifer and I was adopted.
I was born in Denver, CO, in Aug 1992 (yes I’m a Virgo, we’re the best), and shortly after I was adopted by my parents. I grew up in a nice neighborhood right outside of Philadelphia in a tight-knit cul-de-sac with my brother and both parents. I don’t ever remember a time in my life where I didn’t know that I was adopted. My parents always had books for me that would educate me on what being adopted meant, and would always answer any questions I had.
Growing up I wasn’t the most stable child. I struggled in school and I was rebellious. I suffered from several traumatic events and mental illnesses that were hard to diagnose due to not knowing my biological history. Not to mention, I was picked on a lot in school. Because of this, my mom decided to wait to tell me something that would change my life.
I remember the day like it was yesterday, but I believe I was in my early teens. One day my mom told me she had something to inform me about, and pulled out pictures. “These are your birth parents” she stated as she pulled out the pictures of my birth mother and father. I remember thinking how beautiful and handsome they both were. “And these, these are your sisters” Instantly tears filled my eyes. I felt my heart drop and my insides burn with emotion. My mom went on saying “you also have a younger sister that we were going to adopt.” Three sisters??? The emotions took over my entire body. So many thoughts and questions. What would it be like to have 3 sisters? I never had one before.
As my age grew, so did my curiosity. As I got older my parents gave me a folder with every detail and piece of information about my birth family they knew of. That’s one thing I’m forever grateful for. The help and outpouring support my parents gave me when it came to the subject of my birth family. My parents never once tried to stop me from learning more about my roots and the people I came from. I will always feel blessed for that.
By age 18 the questions and thoughts about my birth family had piled up heavy in my heart and mind. I remember spending hours upon hours at night searching for info about them online or searching their first names and birthdates (that’s all I had) on facebook just to try and find them. The searching continued on this way for years and years. Some nights I’d cry because of how much hope I’d lost thinking it’d be impossible to ever find them. At the time I was also depressed, sad, and struggling with my mental state. I felt so empty and incomplete. Don’t get me wrong, my adoptive parents were and are amazing. They did everything they could and the mutual love between us was and is strong. It wasn’t their fault. But on top of struggling with my own demons and issues, I yearned for my birth family, to know them, to hold them and understand who they are and what they were like. As I got older I knew I somehow had to find them. And I never once gave up.
As most of you know, Ancestry DNA has been a worldwide popular DNA test that many people know about and have bought and competed in order to find their nationality and roots. Never once did I think 49$ and a tiny tube of my spit could change my life dramatically and entirely, but it did, oh boy, it did.
In Feb of 2019, after seeing a friend find her birth family this way, I decided to order one (it was on sale for valentines day) hoping someone in my birth family took one. Previously I had tried calling the agency I was adopted from to get info but they wanted a decent amount of money to even try and search to connect me. So I took the DNA test and anxiously waited for the results.
Finally after waiting weeks, my results came back. I quickly logged into my account and entered the info, my hands shaking. This was it. This was the moment that could change my life. Instantly a list of 7 people popped up. That was good, right? That meant that I had 7 people from my bloodline on this website. I started messaging them, sending a picture of my birth parents and sisters, hoping one of them would be or have info on my birth parents. I didn’t stop there. I was determined. I started searching for the names I was given on facebook. The first name I entered of a person that I’ll always hold close to me was my second cousin, Shelley. As I searched her name on facebook I found a profile. I decided to go into her friends list just to see if there was a chance that my birth family would be on her Facebook. The next moments of my life were the most emotional, incredible moments I’ve ever experienced.
As I started searching names in the list, the correct names and birthdates started adding up. I picked apart their pictures and after texting back and forth with my Mom, I realized, it was them. My missing pieces, my empty hole, my broken heart, it was finally being filled. Tears rushed down my face and it was hard to catch my breath, but in the best way. I sat there staring at my phone praying this was really it, that I wasn’t just dreaming about it again.
I started messaging my sisters and birth parents, sending pictures of them and asking if they were who I thought they were. I surprisingly had one mutual friend with my younger sister, Sammy. I messaged the mutual friend and she helped forward the message to my sister. I’m forever grateful for this mutual friend, as she’s the reason my sister accepted my request.
Those minutes before they responded were the longest of my life. But soon enough the responses started pouring in. “Wow that’s me and my parents! We’ve been looking for you for so long ” my sister Amanda wrote. My other sister Sammy wrote “I don’t even know what to say, I instantly just started crying. I’ve been looking for you for years.” My oldest sister Christina wrote “hello don’t even know what to say right now but my sister just told me you’re our sister. We have looked for you for so long.” My birth parents’ responses were of similar nature, but a little more personal and emotional. Instantly my body felt warm and for the first time in my life my heart felt no pain.
To add to the emotional breakthrough, I found out I had 2 more younger siblings I didn’t know about. Ryan & Megan. Soon after talking with my siblings and birth parents I started receiving other messages. Outpouring love from cousins, aunts and grandparents started coming through. Excitedly stating they’d been looking for me forever. That never once did they not think of me or forget about me. My heart finally felt whole.
This was the second most amazing moment of my life, next to meeting them. The day came where I flew out to Colorado to finally have the people I’d been missing my whole 26 years of living in my arms. Holding my sisters and my birth parents was the most incredible, emotional feeling I’ve ever felt. They were finally here, in my arms, in front of me. The moment I got there, I felt like I belonged. That week and a half I spent with them (it got extended because I didn’t wanna leave) was the best week of my life, even despite the heartbreak I was experiencing. My (ex)girlfriend and I had just broken up the day before I flew out, but even as heartbroken as I was, nothing could bring me down. That week of seeing what everyone was like, how beautiful, and creative and smart they all were, was so surreal. I felt like I was dreaming. Some days I still do.
Going home was hard, but since I didn’t have any commitment where I was living I decided to make the biggest decision and move to Colorado to live with them. My mental health had deteriorated since moving to New Jersey in 2013 and I really had nothing left. I don’t know if any of you reading this believe in “Gods timing,” but I sure do. And God allowed the timing of all this to be perfect.
I now live with my birth father, birth sister Amanda, her boyfriend and their two beautiful children who I adore. I also have 7 other nieces and nephews and amazing, supportive cousins (some who are also musicians!), aunts and grandparents. I have less bad days, I don’t dwell on the past, and I push myself to be the best version of me. I love my job and am humbled by the people I work with. I do owe some of my success to one of my good friends that I met out here that continuously helps motivate and push me to do my best. I don’t have thoughts about dying and I put in hard work to be positive and loving everyday.
My adoptive family has been nothing but amazing and supportive. We still talk almost everyday and will do visits from time to time. They are no less my parents as I am no less their daughter. I just want to clarify, me leaving had nothing to do with “abandoning” them, but everything to do with finding myself and my happiness.
Everyday I’m still amazed and learning new things that I can relate to about my birth family. They get me and I think that’s contributed a lot to my success and happiness.
I understand not everyone is as blessed as me, I understand some people don’t get such positive responses and experiences, and if that’s true for you I’m sorry and I pray you find peace. It breaks my heart knowing that not everyone who was adopted can experience what I got to. I thank God every day for my supportive parents, my understanding and amazing birth family, and for the life that I have today. Although I usually have bad luck, I guess now you could say I’m pretty damn lucky. My advice to anyone searching for lost family is don’t give up and trust the outcome. Everything happens for a reason.
Now that I found my missing pieces, now that I feel whole, it’s time to be the best version of me I can be. I truly am blessed.
Pssst. Check out Jens cover of Give you the moon 🌙⬇️