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An Open Letter To The Family I Will Never Know

'I’m not looking for guilt or a place at your Christmas dinner, but merely to say I’m human.'

In honor of National Adoption Awareness Month, MTV News asked readers: What does adoption look like in 2015? 

Were you adopted as an infant or as a teen? Are you an interracial adoptee? Do you have a relationship with your birth parents? What are the biggest misconceptions people have about adoption? What do you wish they knew? Share your story by emailing hellomtvvoices@gmail.com.

By Laura,* 19

Dear Family,

I wanted to start by saying that you don’t know that I exist. I’m 19 now, almost 20. That’s two decades that I have been a living and breathing human being. I have a soul, a body, a mind that thinks too much and a lot of love to give. I’m not writing this to say that I’m mad, or upset, or broken but merely to say that I exist.

You see… you will never know that I exist yet I know that you’re out there. I’ve come face-to-face with some of you and had to keep walking while I held a secret in the deepest realms of my being that you would never know. I’m your sister, aunt, niece and cousin. I’m not any less of a person because of this. I will not say this has been easy, because it hasn’t been. Imagine if you’d lived with this secret for 20 years?

I’m not looking for guilt or a place at your Christmas dinner, but merely to say I’m human. My heart has experienced the unbearable lows to the point of numbness and also the highs that soar above the clouds. Despite the fact that I don’t know you, I’m proud. I’m proud of my ethnic background because it makes me different. I’m truly a mosaic of the various lives that have brought and given me life. But here’s the thing: Blood is the least of what makes people family. Period.

 

Family is the people who come into your life and stay. No “ifs” “ands” or “buts” about it – they stay. It’s not easy to live with a secret that feels like a burden but I think I’m doing the best that I can. And guess what? Maybe, I feel things too much or maybe not enough. But one thing I know for sure is that I’m authentic. I’m desperately learning to love myself, my situation and embrace the beautiful story that’s etched on the streets upon which I walk, the lives of my friends and family who support me and my god, in my goals and dreams.

I’ve got plans. Big plans. I’m making a name for myself and you wouldn’t believe the people who are supporting me. I’m taking my life back. You no longer get to control the life of someone you don’t even know exists. That’s my job and I’m going to start living it. I’m unapologetically working on embracing my story, every ounce of it. Because of you, I’m a miracle. My life is a blessing, my being – whole. How lucky am I to have to have this multitude of families? Whether I know you or not, that’s OK. Just know that you have played a role in my story, my struggle, my healing and my future. Thank you. Thank you for existing because without you there would be no “me." I may share your blood, you may have a place in my story but you do not control it. Nothing is your fault but at the same time, nothing is my fault either. You may never know that I exist and I’m still working on being OK with that.

I hope you all live incredibly fulfilling lives because I sure as hell don’t intend on wasting mine. Life is a gift such a gift. Just promise me that you will always remember that everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about and it never hurts to share a smile with a stranger on the street. We are all human regardless of race, religion, age, sex or gender. Every story is important and every story counts.

I want to leave you with this quote by Anita Krizzan:  “We are mosaics -- pieces of light, love, history, stars -- glued together with magic and music and words." For all of the children out there who have ever felt alone, I promise you that you’re not. Your story is the truth and it's gut-wrenchingly beautiful. You are a mosaic. Be proud of the artwork that is your life. Whether you are a foster child or were adopted, please remember these two things: You are loved and you are WHOLE.

Sincerely,

The girl with the big heart

P.S. Thank you for the curly hair and hazel eyes.

*Name has been changed per the request of the author