The emotionless therapist stared at me intently. My mother sat next to me, awkwardly staring at a painting hanging on the wall. With a sigh, the disinterested therapist asked me, “So, how do you feel about being adopted?” With those few words, my once simple world fell to pieces. My heart skipped a beat, and I turned to stare at my mother. Her eyes turned to me, wide with shock. Her secret was out in the open, and she could no longer deny it.
I found out I was adopted in 2010. All of my life, everyone who met my mother and me noted the striking resemblance we had to one another. Immediately, they believed that we were related. Same height, stature, skin tone and facial features: I am still seen as a carbon copy of her. There was no way she wasn’t my mother, it just didn’t seem to make enough sense.
The days following my unintended discovery of the truth were difficult. The news quickly got out to my brothers, who would daily try to diffuse the situation. Everyone who knew would try to explain to me why I shouldn’t be upset, how she was only trying to protect me, how she didn’t mean to keep it hidden for so long. The issue was, I didn’t know who I was mad at. Plunged into a world of uncertainty, I was unsure of who I was, which family I belonged to, or if I even belonged at all. For the first thirteen years of my life I was certain that I was my mother’s daughter that I was a Taylor, and within one sentence mistakenly spoken, I had to re-evaluate that identity.
I walked into her room, and sat on her bed. Always finding comfort in my mother’s room, I often go there to mull over things in my head. I quietly thought to myself what I could say to her when she got home. I thought about what happened, what it meant to our relationship, how I was responding to it. I was trying too hard to separate myself from the family I had all my life, just because we aren’t biologically related. As I looked around her bedroom, I saw all the pictures of us on every wall and mirror. From my early years to adolescence, the pictures surrounding me were of my mother and me, in each one we were inseparable.
Staring at the pictures, I came to a realization. I learned, from my experience, that family is not defined by biology and DNA. It is determined by the personal relationship and bonds you hold with another person and those connections are the ones that shape you to who you are. In a way, finding out I was adopted turned out to be the best thing that has happened to me. Its impact has showed me that there is no set definition of family. When I look at my mother, I don’t see her as a random woman who took me in. As far as I am concerned, she is my mother. Now, when people tell us how much we look alike, we cannot help but share a smile. There is no longer a debate: I am a Taylor.
By Kelly Taylor
Photo: A.E. Green
Editor’s Note: Kelly Taylor is the author of this essay, which was submitted with her successful application for a Spring Creek Towers College Award Program 2014 scholarship. She was awarded an scholarship of $2000 annually for the next two years. Taylor is enrolled at Broome Community College where she will be studying to earn an Associated of Applied Science Degree. Her major is Hotel Management. Taylor graduated from Millennium High School.