Geraldine Gibbons and I learned recently that we have something in common.
Sure, we’re both passionate about what we do, but we each learned that we were adopted. We also went through the similar experience of meeting our blood relatives for the first time.
First, let’s go back to the late 1980s.
I was adopted at birth after my adoptive parents lost their daughter in a car crash. That same car crash left my adoptive mother unable to have children and, as my dad explained to me not long ago, there was a void in the family.
That’s when I came into the picture.
My adoptive aunt, whom I now consider a motherly figure, put my adoptive family in touch with my blood relatives, and the rest is history.
I was born on Oct. 21, 1989. My dad wanted to name me Jeseriah James, or Jesse James, for short.
Thankfully, Travis Lee Kellar was settled upon. I don’t think would-be employers would hire somebody named after an outlaw from the Old West.
My family told me I was adopted when I was about 5 years old and explained what it meant. Honestly, I probably didn’t care much at the time — I was either too busy playing video games or watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
I had people around me that loved me — that was family, and that’s always been enough for me.
It wasn’t until almost 20 years later that I decided to learn about my biological family.
I always knew some names and vague stories about my blood relatives, but that was about it. My aunt who helped foster the adoption had lost contact with the family, so the search was really left up to me.
It wasn’t until my senior year in college that I decided to really kick that search into high gear.
I knew my one sister’s name, and thanks to the wonder and powers of the Internet, finding her wasn’t difficult. It took some guesswork on how to spell her name, but after a few minutes, I found a Myspace profile that I had a good feeling about.
Not to mention, the girl looked a little like me.
As luck would have it, she listed a phone number on the profile. I made the call, and she knew my name as long as I had known hers.
As it turned out, I had another sister I didn’t know about.
A few weeks later, both of my sisters flew up from Atlanta to meet me. I don’t think I have ever been as nervous in my entire life, but it was amazing how we clicked. We spent late nights for a week sharing stories about our lives, arguing about music or hanging out and talking about anything and everything.
Of course, that week also included arguments typical between a brother and two sisters, who met after 23 years. Thankfully, we had the fortitude to agree to disagree if things got tense.
Since then, we keep touch when we can. It’s a little tough at times, due both to the distance and life pulling us in different directions, but we make the best of it.
That week alone was the most enlightening week of my entire life. In high school, I liked the mysteriousness of the whole adoption thing. The idea of having that unknown side of my life was neat in some regard, but as I matured and looked at it differently, it felt like a void of unanswered questions.
Thanks to that leap of faith in the name of discovery, I was able to form a relationship with two sisters who I would have never met otherwise.
Echo and Beth, if you two read this — your little brother loves you!