Somewhere, in a dusty cardboard box, is a manila folder, hidden in the middle of dozens of others just it, remain. Perhaps it’s dotted with water damage and cursive notes from a well-meaning social worker before and perhaps it’s long been forgotten. Inside the folder, is a photograph taken in the late 70′s or early 80′s of a women who at just 16 years old, gave up her child.
On October 16th, 1981, in Oak Park, Illinois, someone looked at my face for the last time and handed me to a messenger. This person brought me to my parent’s arms and a last name was forgotten as a new one was claimed. No one looked back, because there was no reason to. Two women who had never seen each other’s face had a shared connection. Life took on an entirely new meaning.
I’m adopted. I’ve known this my entire life. You could say I was a Hindes immigrant, but that would be incorrect. I feel my parents to the core of my being. I’ve always pretended that my nose, came from my father, who inherited this ski-sloped-shape of doom on his face from someone in his past. Some attributes are always with us: I cannot change my height or my build, but the learned behaviors that are embedded in me? Well, those are Hindes to the core.
I went on a date this past week, and it started out like any other. We talked and stuffed our faces with dessert, giggled and tried to out-geek each other with pop culture references and general Joss Whedon goodness. (He won.) After the bill came, we mentioned getting together for the next week and walked to the door. He handed me a red envelope and said, “Merry Christmas, Kate.” As someone who is entirely incapable, (ironically,) of actually waiting to open gifts or handle surprises, I immediately ripped open the card. My eyes narrowed on the contents and my hands began to shake a bit as a crisp $20 and crisp $5 bill peeked out from the envelope. I can’t imagine my face but I do remember my tone of voice. I spoke to him, “I’m really uncomfortable. Can you explain this?” He simply said, “You need to read the card.” I grew frustrated and angry and expressed my concern and he looked at me and said, “Kate, read the card.” I walked to my car, sat down and for a single instant, I thought about just pulling away. I opened the card, put the $25 to the side and began to read. It said:
I normally hate giving cash as a gift because I find it shows a lack of effort and is generally thoughtless. This time is a little different. Since you linked back to your twitter feed from your profile, I looked at that. I then followed to your website. Scrolling down the page, I found a blog category entitled, “HolyWords,” and clicked. The first thing that came up was your bucket list. Based off that, I told myself to stop waiting until after the Holiday and just ask you out before I missed my chance. But, that’s getting distracted. The twenty five dollars is for you to deposit, turn into a check and mail with your completed form. And if you ever need a hand with that list, I’m happy to help.
I sat until like a stroke of lightning it hit me- and then, the tingles came. The feeling of a thousand hairs standing up on my neck began to subside until all I could do was cry. My bucket list, the one he read- explained my concern over actually mailing a check for, ($25) to see my birthmom’s photo that resided in a box. I hadn’t done it yet, (for whatever reason.) Whether it was fear, or whatever ridiculous reason, I hadn’t wrote the damn check. The envelope sits underneath less important papers in my desk drawer, begging to be mailed. And you see, inside this card was someone who cared enough to push me and demand I follow-through. We all need this, even motivational speakers. People can surprise you, in the moments when you think you’ve mastered everything, (including dating,) Thank God for that. I left my car door open and I ran with the snow and ice crunching under my feet to his car, and I whipped open his car door and I hugged him. I’ll see him for dinner next week.
If she doesn’t have my nose, I’m going to be very, very, disappointed.
I’m going to be starting a campaign to try to locate my birthmom via Twitter. Want to help? Pass on the hashtag: #FindKatesBirthmom