because you're adopted?" asked my mother,
crying. She was standing in front of the counter at my
job and had just asked me if it was true that I was
dating a woman. I was 19 and worked at a toy store. Looking
back, I realize this was probably the worst day of my life.
I always felt
different as a kid. A lot of it had to do with how I
looked. My parents are fair-skinned and blond, as is my
sister, who is biologically their child. I was always
tan, my brown hair thick and unruly. In pictures of
family reunions, there I am, taller and darker than
the women on my mother's side. They're
Polish-American. I'm--I don't know
what. Well, that's not true. I know I'm queer.
chosen," my parents would tell me. "Yeah, I
was chosen," I'd say to my sister.
"They just had you."
When I think
about the question my mother, now 75, asked me, I try to put
myself in her shoes. She knew nothing about gay people.
It's obvious she was looking for a
"reason" for my gayness--why
wouldn't she? My older sister is straight and
was not adopted, so therein lies a difference. Being
adopted has always made me a puzzle.
also adopted, came out to her parents last year. They
didn't ask her, "Is it because you're
adopted?" But I have to wonder if they thought
it. She has biological siblings and always felt different
out to my family at a very late age," she says.
"Maybe subconsciously I didn't want to
be even more different from my family."
As I write this,
she and I are anxiously awaiting the results from DNA
tests that will tell us about our ethnic backgrounds. It may
not seem that exciting to someone who knows their
roots, but to us, it's as if we're
waiting to meet the spirits of our grandmothers,
great-grandmothers, and their grandmothers.
also planning our next trip to the tattoo parlor.
"Q&A" will be imprinted on our
bodies as it is on our lives and emotions and hearts.
I may look queer, but do I look adopted? I can't wait
for people to ask what it stands for, because
I'll be coming out each time I talk about
it--coming out two times over.