Adopted children are self-invented because we have to be; there is an absence, a void, a question mark at the very beginning of our lives. A crucial part of our story is gone, and violently, like a bomb in the womb. The baby explodes into an unknown world that is only knowable through some kind of a story — of course that is how we all live, it’s the narrative of our lives, but adoption drops you into the story after it has started. It’s like reading a book with the first few pages missing. It’s like arriving after curtain up. The feeling that something is missing never, ever leaves you — and it can’t, and it shouldn’t, because something is missing.
That isn’t of its nature negative. The missing part, the missing past, can be an opening, not a void. It can be an entry as well as an exit. It is the fossil record, the imprint of another life, and although you can never have that life, your fingers trace the space where it might have been, and your fingers learn a kind of Braille.
Whatever adoption is, it isn’t an instant family — not with the adoptive parents, and not with the rediscovered parents. … Adoption is so many things at once. And it is everything and nothing.
It’s why I am a writer — I don’t say ‘decided’ to be, or ‘became’. It was not an act of will or even a conscious choice. I had to be able to tell my own. I write my way out. I believe in fiction and the power of stories.