How unusual it is to think of myself as a foster kid. It’s the tail end of a story that started with my mom doing what people do.  She was not different. But she was my mom. So she was unique in that.

People write dispassionately about these things. But also with passion. Did this mom (my bio mom) love my biological father? Maybe she did. Maybe she didn’t. For some reason, she couldn’t be with him. Was he married? Or was he a one night stand? Or was he a priest or a traveling salesman?  Golly. Who was my father, anyway?

My bio mom’s ‘ex’ was not my biological father. He was, however, the better human in the end. My bio father would not claim me. Had my mom’s ex not ’claimed’ me, I could not have been adopted—as my adoptive mom said in a posthumous letter to me.  (I was not allowed to open this letter until after she was gone.)

The thing is. (My breath catches as I write this.) The thing is, my mom’s ex-husband signed the papers. So. I. Could. Be. Adopted. 

I like to think that my mom’s ex husband loved her still. She was lucky. And I was very lucky. I wasn’t a foster kid, branded for life with the “F” word (the foster word in this case), a Scarlet Letter of sorts scratched onto the inside of my heart. Or maybe it was across foster kids’ foreheads like brands but not the good kind. Not like Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. Or the OK Corral. 

Is it a brand? Yes, it’s a brand of kid. Oh, heck. 

I am approaching 70, and I wonder about both dads. The dad that was my flesh and blood was a jerk. Or maybe he was unable to make the right decision for whatever reason… priest, married, young? I don’t know. The ‘other’ dad, my mom’s ex, was a good man. (So was my adoptive father, by the way.)

I wondered about my bio mom, but I never looked her up. I didn’t think she wanted to see me. 

And I don’t care about my bio dad. Unfair? Maybe, but he didn’t lift a finger to help my mom. 

So, after all this time, I realize that I am part him — part ‘bad-dad.’ Rather, and at the same time, he is a part of me, and I am ashamed. Or should be. Or not. I wasn’t there. I didn’t make him do what he did. I don’t know why, either. It might have been the right thing to do for a lot of reasons. I think I’ll give us all a break and move on.

The past has passed, and I am here. My mom did not abort me, but rather gave me up to be adopted by what turned out to be wonderful parents. I’m grateful for that and for my mom’s courage.

One thing I know for sure.

“Life’s a crapshoot.”

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