Jacob, born in Colombia, adopted to the US
INTRO: Fellow adoptee Jacob shares his story with us. He speaks of conflicting feelings that many adoptees can relate to and gently reminds us that reunion can come with its own set of hardships.
“The Pendulum Swings
While I embrace the Spring-to-Summer transition brought on by April, May and June, I silently loathe what they represent for me.
I was born on April 3rd, 1984 in Cali, Colombia. Seven months later, I was adopted to the spacious yet isolated area of Longbranch, WA, a roughly two-hour’s drive southwest of Seattle. Mother’s Day follows my birthday month and Father’s Day rounds out my season of existential angst in mid-June. Birth. Mother. Father.
Allow me to revisit the word I used above. ‘Loathe’ is an aggressive verb yet it is not meant to mindlessly attack any member of my families, adoptive or biological. Instead, it is employed here to highlight what I genuinely feel, which is a persistent irritation with the pendulum in my mind oscillating between feelings of guilt and elation, between mental solitude and equanimity. My guilt arises from sentiments related to my privileged life as a direct result of my adoption while many in my biological family in southern Colombia literally struggle to pay for a short taxi ride to visit each other. The mental solitude develops because I feel powerless to discuss these topics at length with my adoptive father or sister. I no longer speak to anyone in my extended adoptive family.
Comparably, the elation and equanimity I mentioned derive from the profound joy I feel when having in-depth conversations with my adoptive mother or my biological cousins in Colombia about identity and questions surrounding the concept of belonging. I feel the same during lengthy WhatsApp calls with one of my biological aunts or the calmness that comes over me when meeting with fellow adoptees. The solidarity I feel with them knows no bounds whether they’re here in the U.S., The Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Canada, Sweden or elsewhere.
The pendulum swings more intensely during these three months. Of the 35 birthdays I have celebrated since my birth, only twice have I celebrated in Colombia. Each time that date approaches I do what I can to bring as many people in my life together for amusing evenings of dining, dancing and spirited debates. I enjoy it but I always take a moment during those days to spend alone. The voluntary seclusion is necessary for me to ponder, every year, what my life would have been like had I not been adopted. In a way, those moments of intense introspection allow me to free my mind. I wonder about if I will ever arrive at the full story of how I came to exist or if I should abandon (cough, cough) the thought completely. So many out there know the stories of how and why they came to be. But for us adoptees? The pendulum swings.
Mother’s Day is a fantastic opportunity for me to not only celebrate but honor my adoptive mother and the numerous amazing mothers I am close to. I refer to Cindy as my real mom and there is no hesitation in my fingers as I type this. On the other hand, I refer to my biological mother in Colombia by her first name, Deisy. Since meeting her in a dimly lit living room in early 2005, the words “mamá” or “madre” have only left my lips around her when I refer to my real mom. Deisy has never suggested nor insisted otherwise. I confess when we met and hugged for the first time, I was overwhelmed by the weight of the moment and I believed everything she told me. During these 15 years since that afternoon, our relationship has deteriorated to the point we no longer communicate. Those initial optimistic emotions, clouded by immaturity and naiveté, faded quickly with multiple displays of how Deisy is the most manipulative and dishonest person I have ever met. But then, is my frustration truly justified after taking into account all SHE has been through? All SHE has endured? The pendulum swings.
Father’s Day represents a more ambiguous set of challenges for me. On one side, I have the opportunity to remind myself of the arduous efforts my adoptive father has undertaken to ensure my life could be the triumph it has been. On the other side, I am now in the 12th year of searching for my biological father. If he is still alive, this is a man who navigates every day without knowing he has a son in another country. In December of 2018, after 11 months of trying to convince someone to do a paternity test in Bogotá, those results came back negative. In 2019 I received my results from 23andMe and located 2nd and 3rd cousins on my biological father’s side in four cities in Colombia. The search continues and I am closer than I have ever been to locating him. A multi-page letter to him is ready and waiting for when that moment arrives. The pendulum swings.
For all three of the months I mention here, there are more in-depth stories in my upcoming memoir titled I Met Myself in October: A Memoir of Belonging. The book is coming out in June, during Father’s Day weekend.
I leave you with two brief chapter teasers from the memoir. However, I am intentionally not including context for them. You’ll just need to join the more than 4oo people on the email list who I’ll send the first presale link to when it becomes available.
From Chapter 3:
“It had been quite some time since I felt the unsettling fire of ambition towards anything. For lack of a better word, I was ecstatic about the prospect of searching for and finding this woman. A colossal search to find one person out of approximately 46 million with nothing more than a name seemed completely insane. It seemed ridiculous. It seemed impossible. And yet, it was entirely intriguing. Something about the challenge excited me, even if it implied a major leap into the uncertain and improbable.”
“As I turned to scan the rest of the park, I noticed a small black woman move behind a car, clearly trying to avoid being seen. I waited and then she stuck her head out – it was Deisy. I never saw her on the bus, so I concluded she followed me in a taxi. Our eyes met for a split second and she turned abruptly to walk in the opposite direction, back toward fifth street. The thought of running to ask why she followed me never crossed my mind. I turned to walk the other way as well and I seethed for the next few moments. To my knowledge, nobody ever followed me before. More than hurt, I was livid and felt my privacy was violated. How ironic that it was by the woman I had searched so hard for! This cemented a disturbing realization for me: Deisy did not trust me and this surely would contribute to the continued deterioration of our relationship.”
As I am an educator, it feels appropriate to give you a short homework assignment:
What is your pendulum and how often does it swing?
Gracias, dank je wel, merci, obrigado, thank you, grazie, asante!“
Written by Jacob Taylor-Mosquera
Please, find Jacob on social media, to follow and find out more about him and his upcoming book release on the website for his memoir I Met Myself in October: A Memoir of Belonging which is coming out during Father’s Day weekend in June. He is also on Facebook and Instagram if you wish to connect with him there.