This Is Us

Stop using adoptees as pawns in the battle over reproductive rights

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I am the innocent child some are determined to protect. I know what it is to be born into this world unwanted and unprepared for. I am the child of a woman who had no children after giving me away to strangers. A woman who died too young because her secret destroyed her.

I am a woman who chose to have an abortion. And I am a woman who brought two very wanted children into this world.

I laid in my bed, somewhere between floating and fugue. Claude, the supposedly rich guy with diplomatic immunity who never had money but…


LIVED THROUGH THIS

To know where you’re going, you need to know where you’re from

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“If your own parents didn’t want you, what are you doing here?” — Olivier Rousteing, Wonder Boy

We sit at her small glass kitchen table. The Scrabble board she’s had since college takes up most of it, the ceramic napkin holder with neatly folded paper napkins takes up the rest. We haven’t seen each other since before Covid and waste no time getting to our favorite activity: cutthroat, take-no-prisoners Scrabble. That no one likes to play with us is a badge of honor.

I haven’t seen my mom in real life in almost two years. Now, sitting in her house…


So I went to find them.

My eye.

We stared into each other’s eyes. His cerulean blue with thick black lashes lined with jet black eyeliner. His already tan skin darkened by the late summer sun, his soft brown hair falling across his forehead like the guy from Flock of Seagulls. He listened to Devo and the B-52’s and was a breakdancer in Washington Square Park. He was the coolest and most beautiful boy I knew.

“Your eyes change colors,” he said a minute into our staring contest.

“Yours don’t.”

“But what’s crazy is that space. Your eyeball is too small for the socket. …


The mission was my marriage.

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“Mac-don-alds! Mac-don-alds!” they chanted from the back seat of the brown Volvo wagon, their car seats secure as Fort Knox. Ugh, again? The 101 freeway was a packed field of bright red brake lights. There was no dinner at home, meltdowns were guaranteed.

“Okay!” I said with the forced enthusiasm of a mother on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The kids cheered. My bar was low. Just make sure everyone stays alive. And you know what they say, Happy Meal, happy mom. Then Charlie coughed with such terrifying force, I forgot to be happy.

We had just left the…


LIVED THROUGH THIS

Hate is harder when we see each other’s humanity

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It was 1987, my freshman year at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The First Intifada had just begun. Young Arabs with keffiyehs around their necks stood at a long table near the cafeteria’s exit, a Palestinian flag hanging behind them.

“Sign the petition! Free Palestine!”

They terrified me; I walked by as fast as I could. To me, a keffiyeh stood for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and Palestinians weren’t human beings, they were terrorists. Right in front of me, in real life.

I wasn’t alone. The main student cafeteria, the Marvin Center, had its own imaginary Green…


Where are you, John Prine?

I drove north on the 101, past the Hollywood sign and hillside houses on stilts, into the flat land of the San Fernando Valley. Entering Ventura County, I turned off the suddenly unfamiliar radio and listened to John Prine. I Remember Everything.

I’ve been down this road before. I remember every tree. Every single blade of grass holds a special place for me.

I imagined a time long ago of green rolling hills and sunshine and twinkling stars, of citrus groves and children at-play. …


Answers were out there.

Suzy Hazelwood via Pexels

No posters advertising the benefits of typing skills or a prim typing teacher extolling the virtues of 65 words-per-minute. Just blank beige walls and a disheveled and disinterested old white guy waiting for his 401k standing at the front of the classroom.

June 1982. My last day of junior high. This typing final was all that stood between me and freedom, and I was taking the class pass/fail. For fuck’s sake, even I could pass typing.

“Ready. Set. Go!” said our teacher and the melody of tapping typewriter keys began.

Without explanation, he walked out of the room. I mean…


Reunion porn and the fairy tale mythology it promotes.

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The plane descended towards Logan Airport and the numbing from two Bloody Mary’s wore off. My heart pounded and pulse quickened. Regretting making this trip alone, I imagined standing up and shouting to my fellow Delta passengers, So listen, when I get to baggage claim, I’m meeting my biological father for the first time. I searched for him for 26 years and here I am, alone. Can someone get video of all of this and text it to me? Who’s in?

Sure, I wanted that moment immortalized, and to share it…


Photo by César Coni for Pexels

When I woke up this morning, I swallowed a pill for my thyroid and dissolved a tablet of testosterone under my tongue. While I peed, I rubbed estrogen gel on my thigh. I washed my hands and dried them on the white towel that needs to be washed, but who cares.

I took off my lightweight pajama top, the one supposedly light enough to prevent night sweats, but doesn’t. In its place, I put on a black sweatshirt sprinkled with white dog hair and warm fuzzy socks. It was 46 degrees in Los Angeles. Real winter. Finally.

I made my…


Chaos coping is an Olympic sport.

Illustration by Alison 1414 via Shutterstock

I refresh my Twitter feed. Again. Trump, fraud, election, yada yada yada. Next, Instagram. I scroll for a while, liking the occasional post, wondering if I’ll ever have her fabulous wallpaper or their romantic Italian vacation. I recently went back on Facebook after deleting my account a year ago. Everything yet nothing has changed. Posts from the same four people over and over again. I check out the New York Times and the LA Times. Everything is terrible. Blah blah blah.

Ten months into Covid-19, cases are surging and Los Angeles is in crisis. Yesterday, LA County Emergency Medical Services…

Mindy Stern

I got my first TV writing job at 48, took 26 years to find my birth family. It’s never too late, you’re never too old. Keep going. lostinadoptionland@gmail.com

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