Last year, to help me transition from Nova Scotia to my new home in Alberta, my little sister, Angela, got me a job serving at Mr. Mike’s Steakhouse here in Grande Prairie. We were excited to be working together and living in the same city. Those first few weeks flew by, and as we rushed by each other during the busy day, or when we checked in with each other during our down time, the similarities in our body language, posture, how we spoke, laughed, and the sheer size of us (we are tall women), became hard to ignore. On our days off we would crave the same food, listen to electronic music (although I was more of a dubstep lover and she digs the electro beats) and chose the same outfits from mall clothing racks. It was uncanny.
These similarities were so significant for us because we did not grow up together: this was the first time we ever lived in the same place. Ten years her senior, Angela was only eight when I met her in 1997.
I had just undergone two brain surgeries to correct the epilepsy that plagued my life for so many years, and because of this medical emergency I was able to bi-pass a lot of the formalities involved in finding my birth parents. The government allowed me to access my parent’s contact information in order to connect me with my long lost family.
I had always known I was adopted. From the beginning my adoptive parents, Coleen and Francis, had told both my brother and me that we were special and that our birth parents could not take care of us, so we were gifts granted to them from God (back when my parents were religious). I never felt resentful or sad, just lucky that I was able to grow up with such wonderful parents.
Curiosity haunted me throughout my childhood years, and I knew that it would never be satisfied until I found out who my birth parents were, and if we had anything in common.
Growing up as an adopted child I became intrigued over the idea of nature versus nurture. While hanging out with my friends and their families I was in awe by their similarities in body language, facial expressions, mannerisms, and even decision making. I wondered if anyone else out there shared my characteristics and mannerisms.
Knowing that social services was going to contact my parents, I prepared for the worst. What if I was a rape baby? What if they don’t want to meet me? What if they are dead? What came next I can honestly say was one scenario I did not prepare myself for–my parents ended up getting married. Not only were they married, but they had three children who at that time were eight, twelve and fourteen years old.
They were so happy to find out that I was looking for them that they prepared a package with letters and photos telling me all about themselves. When I first laid eyes on them in those photographs I cannot fully express the flood of emotions as I saw my eyes, my hair, and my smile, looking back at me.
After getting to know my family over email I decided to travel to New Brunswick to meet them. I came to find out that after my mother gave me up for adoption she had to return to university, and prayed that I was safe in the arms of my new family, wherever that may be. Little did she know that I had been adopted by my parents, six doors down from her..
In 2008 I created the documentary, Serendipity Daughter, telling the story of sacrifice both sets of my parents made in order to give me the best life possible.
Both of my families have become friends, and I have been fortunate enough to be a part of my sibling’s lives: watching them grow up and tackling the awkward teenage years, being a part of my youngest brother’s wedding, accepting my baby sister’s support in helping me start a new life in another province, and finding out that my oldest brother will be welcoming my first nephew into the world.
As I get to know my sister as an adult I can’t help but reflect on how blessed my life has been, and how lucky I am to not only have one amazing family who loves me, but two.