By Dixie Laite
For half a century, I’ve longed to know who I am, where I came from, how my hair, my quirks, my me came to be.
Now, thanks to a company called kinsolving, I was able to learn my birth mother’s name, my birth father’s name and open a window onto the landscape of all the lives who came before me, and who, through a quirk of fate and 10 minutes of clumsy desire, have funneled down to little ol’ improbable me.
Some other time I’ll share my first awkward phone conversation with my new mother, the Wikipedia entries about this new father, my trip to visit my mother, and how—during her somewhat convoluted anecdotes spanning 70 years’ worth of secretarial gigs—I searched her face and gestures for any small glimmer of myself. I found my birth parents the day before Thanksgiving 2012, something I’d longed to find my entire life.
But thanks to Facebook, I also found something just as precious. Maybe more so.
Being adopted, for me at least, has always been a lonely proposition. Everyone in your family, everyone you know, is tied to others by blood, a shared history, by the shape of their noses and the bonds of familiar personalities. My appearance and especially my personality were completely discordant with the people I lived with. I always felt alien, out of sync and misunderstood.
Despite a host of best intentions, for me there was always the murmur of an undercurrent of otherness that I could never shake. This feeling, this solitary otherness, is by its very nature yours and yours alone. As a little girl I’d see films of astronauts floating in outer space, tethered to a chord in vast darkness with the underlying threat of their being cut loose and drifting aimlessly forever, the epitome of alone. I’d think to myself, “That’s me, that’s how I feel.”
When I finally got the news I’d found the woman who gave birth to me, that she was still alive at 88, I posted the news on Facebook. It seemed as worthy a nugget of information as a local shelter dog needing a home or the latest aggravating political tidbit.
What happened next blew me away. Dozens of people, some I knew, some I barely knew, many of whom I’d never met responded to my post. There was an outpouring of encouragement, support and kind words. What struck me most was that it was no longer my little solitary journey—now all of a sudden there were dozens, maybe hundreds of people, who’d opted to come along with a “thumbs up” and a little complimentary squib.
Something I’d assumed was of no interest to anyone but me was being shared and savored by kind people cheering me on. I’d been led to believe that my interest in my birthparents was somehow inappropriate, perhaps understandable but in poor taste. But here were all kinds of people sending me messages of strength, of support, of love. All of a sudden this sad little lonely mission didn’t feel so pathetic. The flood of Facebook friendliness made it feel both valid and valuable.
I can honestly say that Facebook completely transformed the experience. While naturally I’d wished I’d solved the mystery decades sooner, I can’t help but think that its delay was in the end a gift. While I’d finally uncovered my biological family, on Facebook I discovered a new kind of family—all kinds of people offering me their love, their support, their wisdom, their experience. Certainly it was overwhelming to finally find my past, but it was even more overwhelming to find this large, loving family right here.
Social media has its theorists, its gurus, marketers and detractors. But I’m here to give witness to the fact that in this relatively new technology I found a surprising sort of support and solace as priceless as the bronzed baby shoes given me last week, the day I met my mother.
This is the lucky 13th episode of “15 Minutes of Dame,” a column to help you create, develop and promote the living crap out of your personal brand. Dixie Laite has been putting the “broad” in broadcasting for over 20 years, working in television, online, print and marketing for a variety of household name brands. By day, she works as Senior Editorial Director for TeenNick and also freelances as a writer, speaker and digital content strategist. She’s also working on a blog and book about The Lost Art of Being a Dame. Follow Dixie @DameStyle and on Pinterest, and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Oh, and post your questions and suggestions in Comments below.
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