For those of you who have not been reading, I started this blog for several reasons but the first and foremost was to shout out into the oblivion and see what shouts back. I asked the world- Who am I? And lo and behold, I got an answer.
I spent many years struggling over my feelings about being adopted and I spent many more in an endless cycle coming back to the original question over and over again throughout my life. I wanted to know who I was. I wanted to matter.
It wasn’t just a question of who my biological family was but also the heritage I missed out on. I am Quapaw Indian. Sitting in classroom as a kid we read about American history and the Indians we all but exterminated. Everyone would look at me as if I knew anymore than they did. I knew nothing of my culture being raised in a white family but I gleaned Indian way of life the same way America does, by books and movies. You might think that’s dumb but if you’re a kid in a small town in Illinois it’s hard to imagine Indians when you don’t see any around.
When my marriage was crumbling I again felt the need to find them. My thinking all growing up was that petitioning the courts was too expensive and that was the only way I’d ever be able to find out who they were. It’s not expensive – at all. But at that time I didn’t know that so figuring I’d never know I decided to drive down to Miami, Oklahoma and look around.
I had watched ‘Thunderheart’ nearly a thousand times so I was prepared for whatever the reservation would throw at me. I could have taken my best friend Nancy (she looks Indianish so we’d be okay if we got pulled over by tribal police and asked what we were doing there) but I felt I needed to do it alone. Even though I look Indian, on the inside I’m all white and I hoped yet feared that someone would recognize me.
I secretly hoped someone would and we’d have this joyous reunion yet I was afraid they would identify me as someone they had already gotten rid of – what part of ‘Don’t ever come back’, don’t you understand? Looking back, I should have taken Nancy. She would have given me the courage to get out of the car! I felt extremely out-of-place sneaking into Indian country.
Eventually I ventured out. I searched face after face looking for any resemblance but if you’ve ever gotten a large group of Indians together you’d realize something I didn’t – we all look-alike! When the drums started I left. I figured my cover as an Indian would have been blown if I was asked to dance and I didn’t know how. I drove away with a big smile on my face. For a little while I was one of them.
I still can’t believe I found my family and I can’t wait to share all my weird and crazy idiosyncrasies with them. I just might find I fit in after all.