I’ve shared a lot about my personal adoption story on my social media and here. Last week, I found completion and closure in the journey and I wanted to share here as it ties into why I’m so grateful for my shop and YOU!
The past 10 years has been a long drawn out roller coaster of finding and meeting my biological family. I was adopted by my parents at 8 months old. I had connected all the dots through DNA, found out who my biological father was, met many of my relatives…but the final missing puzzle pieces were those first 8 months. I had been in and out of foster care according to my parents, as my birth mom tried to care for me. I wanted to know my birth story. I wanted to know how much I was with her versus in foster care. I wanted to know those early details. I love telling my girls their birth stories and I didn’t think I’d ever know my own. I asked my birth mom those questions in email before she passed away, but she never responded.
I felt the answers might be held in my adoption file. Unfortunately, in California, even though I had an “open” adoption, all records are sealed by law. I called the county a few times to just hit dead ends, no responses or “you can’t access them without a court order”. It felt hard so I gave up.
Shortly after opening my shop last year, a girl walked by for sushi, Nogi was busy so I told her she could sit on my bench while she waited. We chatted. We connected as the weeks passed, she got glasses, and I learned she, we’ll call her Simone, had just started working for the Social Services department with the county. I got chills as Simone told me this. I told her about my quest and she enthusiastically nudged me forward in my search, saying people request records all the time. So I made a few more phone calls and tried to find my way through the maze of red tape. A few months into it, I connected with an amazing social worker who was also adopted, and she understood how important these details were. She located my file and kept it on her desk, encouraging me also and guiding me further in the steps and process, to legally open my file.
Every step felt hard, exhausting and emotional. I didn’t know if it would work, and if it did, what I would find. Paperwork I submitted kept getting lost. Finally, last month, I decided I’d try one more time. As I put the envelope in the mail box on Traffic Way, I literally dusted my hands off and thought “this is the last try.” Two days later, I got a call from the court that they were releasing my file to me. I almost fell over in shock. It felt like hard timing, it was also the week of my birthday, the week of my shop anniversary, and overall very emotionally draining. But I kept taking steps forward. I picked up my court documents then met with the kind social worker to view my foster/adoption file. I was shaking, my hands were sweating. I had no idea how much information it would hold, if it would have the answers I was looking for.
As I opened it up, I saw a timeline of my first 8 months. I was only in foster care for a few weeks. I saw how hard my birth mom tried to care for me. I saw her obvious mental health struggles. I saw how hard the county social workers had tried to support her in being a mother; then supporting her in the hard decision to give me up. I learned I was born at 1:48pm, I learned about my birth mom’s labor, I learned I had jaundice and was at the hospital for 10 days with my birth mom staying there as well. I learned she nursed me and bonded to me. I KNOW MY BIRTH STORY!
As I walked out the front door of social services with copies of my file, with my hands still shaking, tears in my eyes and my heart very full, guess who I ran into on the sidewalk? Yep, Simone. My friend from the shop who nudged me in the very beginning. I couldn’t believe the significance of this…and what a perfect way to complete the circle. We hugged twice and tears fell out of my eyes. It took almost a year to get these records and had she not walked into my shop, I would have given up. I don’t believe in fate or being “blessed” but I have a hard time wrapping my brain around how this wasn’t “meant to be!”
Every interaction that happens in my shop fills me with gratitude. This life is heartbreaking yet beautiful and I truly feel that by showing kindness and love, we can make it through this hard life supporting each other. My focus may be glasses and it’s super fun – but what I really love is connecting with you.
And I feel like I can close the door. At this point, I have no more questions. The puzzle is complete. I am complete.