It was cold and overcast on our daughter’s Gotcha Day. We drove away from the adoption agency in a small, navy blue van with another adoptive family. Our little girl rode on my lap, still unaware of what was happening. She went from playing with the new toys we’d given her to looking up at the other little boy who was with his new family with curiosity and concern as his cries filled the vehicle. It took her a few more hours before she began her own tears.
I remember watching our daughter’s foster mother as we drove away and how my heart ached imagining how hers must’ve been. As we drove away from the building where so many people knew our daughter by name, and from the woman who had lovingly cared for her every need since she was an infant, I wondered when our little girl might want to return. I pictured her years older, standing on that sidewalk again, reaching for her past self.
In my own search for and struggles of identity, I’ve often believed returning to a physical place would solve everything. Having moved multiple times throughout my formative years, I lived in a constant state of adjusting to a new normal while reaching back for the past. In high school, after a move to the Midwest, I spent almost every day vowing to return to California. I believed it was the one place I belonged most of all. And yet with time and many short return visits in-between, new places became home.