Hi! It’s me! Lily!
So it started out as a pretty normal day. I woke up. I was feeling a lot better, I think I’m getting used to the new normal. Jack and I talked a lot last night. Things are going just a little better for him. Apparently his parents marched over to the school, demanded to see the principal, and read her the riot act. She tried to defend the bullies, but that didn’t fly. It’s not clear how it’s going to turn out, but it’s certainly starting to be different. I still miss his arms, but he’s sooo nice to talk to. I could get used to that.
So, anyway, I ran. I ate breakfast – I got used to the hotel buffets, but Sabby still makes a mean breakfast. I started school. Around noon there was a knock on the door. Sabby went to answer it. A few seconds later she called me down into the living room. I signed off my lesson and went down to see what was the matter.
One of my old social workers was sitting there.
I hadn’t seen them for a while. They closed my case when I was officially adopted, other than a few checkups every now and then, they were content that I was happily adopted and were perfectly willing to leave me alone. She had a serious look on her face, well, what you could see around the mask. And she had some papers.
“What… what’s going on?”, I asked. I was nervous now.
“Sit down, please,” she said. “You too, Mrs. Smith.”
“So, as you may or may not know, our DNA databases are incomplete. We have data on many people in this country, but not everyone. You also know that we haven’t had very good matches on your DNA, and those who are closest don’t know anything about you.” She paused. “We found out why.”
I gasped. “You…”
“A few days ago, we had a hit. A very close match. Someone uploaded results into our database that would make them a very close relative. Because of our interest in finding out who you really are, we were able to pull the records and contact this person.”
She leaned closer.
“Lily… We found your mother.”
Tears spring to my eyes unbidden. “You… you found…”
“There’s more,” she said. “After talking to her, we were finally able to find out what happened. She was a single mother, pregnant with you, in New Orleans, at around the time Hurricane Katrina hit, in 2005. She evacuated to Houston, where she had you. She was unable to take care of you, and put you up for adoption very soon after. You were adopted shortly after. The records on that are unclear. We don’t know by whom. Yet, anyway.” She had a frown in her voice. “That could take a long time to unravel. There are some… irregularities.” She shook her head, like clearing out some cobwebs.
She handed me some papers. “Your mother’s name is Emiko Johnson. Your birthday is September 3, 2005. Your father’s name is Robert Landry. He doesn’t know about you, which explains why those who were a close match didn’t know who you were. Mrs. Johnson is a Japanese immigrant, maiden name Nakamoto, and that’s why we didn’t have sufficient records to match on her DNA until now. Your given name is Yuriko Landry. Her phone number and address are on these papers. Of course, it’s your choice as to whether to contact her or not, but she is hoping to hear from you.”
She stood up. “I understand all of this may be a shock. We’re still working on finding out who adopted you. Some of us have taken a personal interest in this case.” She sighed. “You are most unusual. Please call me if you have any questions.” She handed me a business card. “Have a nice day.”
She let herself out.
I didn’t move. Finally Sabby stood up, sat down next to me, and wrapped her arms around me. I just started bawling.
I didn’t know everything yet. I didn’t know who adopted me. I didn’t know why I lost my memory. But I knew who I was.
I have a name.
I have a name.
OMG I have a name.
Finally I collected myself enough to read the papers. Sabby read them along with me. I’m half Japanese!! I know who my mother is! I..
I looked at Sabby.
“I want to meet her,” I said. “I want to know why she abandoned me. I want to know why she left me. I want to… I need to know.”
Sabby nodded. “I understand. Where does it say she lives?”
“Houston,” I said, looking at the paper.
“Do you want to call, or should I?”
I handed her the papers. “Please call. If you want to. I don’t… I don’t know if I can handle it right now.”
She took the papers. I looked at her with tears in my eyes. “Sabby… she abandoned me. I don’t know why. Maybe she’ll have a good reason. Maybe I can forgive her. Maybe… maybe we can have a relationship. But… but you are here, now. She isn’t.”
“I feel like I’m saying this a lot,” she said quietly, “but don’t worry about school for the rest of the day. This… this is a lot. Do you still want to be called Lily?”
I nodded vigorously. “Yes. I chose Lily. I didn’t choose Yuriko. It’s a pretty name. I don’t mind it. I’ll use it when I need to. But I’m Lily. And my last name is Smith. It will always be Smith.”
Sabby frowned. “I need to call the lawyer too. I don’t know if this complicates things or not.”
“Do you… do you think it will affect my adoption?”
“I don’t think so. But it looks like you were adopted by someone else, who might or might not have abandoned you. There’s… there’s nothing normal about this. And you were also issued a birth certificate and SSN, which is now… incorrect. I’m not sure what to do.”
“Well, I’m sure they’ll figure it out,” I said, frowning. Great. Another wildcard.
I went upstairs and grabbed my phone. I texted Jack.
Jack? I have big news.
No response. I guess he was at school. I knew he’d text me later.
I told Beth the news. She was happy for me, but she hoped she could still be my sister. I told her she’s being a silly billy, of course she’s my sister. She asked me if I would have other siblings. I said I don’t know, but I don’t know them, and I know her, and they’re not going to take her place.
In the evening, Jack texted me back. I told him everything.
wow, he said. that’s a lot.
Are you going to meet her?
Sabby is making the arrangements now.
I hope… I hope you find the answers you were looking for.
Me too, I said eruditely. I’ll keep you up to date. Love you.
Love you too, he said.
And then I texted Liz.
Girl can move. And fast. I had barely hit send on the text when she barged into my room. “OMG you found out who your mother is and found out who you are? That’s BIG NEWS Lily! And you’re half Japanese too!!! Wow!!! Are you going to meet her?”
I nodded. “I want to find out why she abandoned me.”
Her face turned serious. “I would too. But what if she has a good answer?”
I sighed. “Then I’ll have to forgive her, I guess.”
“It doesn’t sound like you want to.”
“I haven’t known who I am for over a year and it’s her fault!!! It’s all her fault!,” I said, with venom. “I wouldn’t be in this situation if it weren’t for her… for her selfishness!!!”
Liz looked taken aback. “I’ve never seen you… angry. I mean actually angry.”
“I am! How am I supposed to feel? Social worker just waltzes into my house and tells me my birth mother didn’t want me, and she wants to talk to me, and… and… GGRRRRRR!” I growled and buried my face in my pillow. “I could scream!”
“Well a pillow is a good place to do it,” she said sagely. I giggled in spite of myself. Liz had a way with words.
“I’ll talk to her,” I said finally. “I’ll listen. I’ll keep an open mind. And she’d better have a good answer. If she doesn’t, that will be the last time I ever speak to her. And what about my fa – Robert? He never even knew about me to begin with? How am I supposed to approach that?”
“You’re strong,” she said. “You’ll do the right thing. Maybe she regrets it. Maybe she didn’t feel like she had a choice.” She frowned. “A mother generally doesn’t give up a child without a very good reason.”
“I hope so,” I said. “I don’t want to hate her.”
Sabby knocked on the door. “I talked to Mrs. Johnson,” she said. “She will come here. This weekend. She will come alone. She’s promised to answer any question you have. Are you okay with that?”
“No,” I said, truthfully. “But I need to know. I’ve been waiting a long time for answers. And that’s the least she owes me.”
“I’ll make the arrangements then,” she said. “Are you going to be okay?”
“No,” I said, again truthfully. “After last week, and then this week, maybe I’ll never be okay again.”
Liz rubbed my back. “You will,” she said. “That’s what makes you Lily.”
“I wonder what ‘yuriko’ means,” I said quietly.
“Maybe ask her,” Liz said. “She promised to answer all of your questions.”
“I think I will.” Liz gave me a big hug. We chatted a little bit about Jack before she had to go back to her house for dinner.
After Liz left, I looked up Katrina on YouTube. It was horrible. Hundreds of thousands of people displaced or evacuated. A stadium full to the brim of evacuees. Thousands of homes destroyed and flooded out. And a lot of people evacuated to Houston.
Including my birth mother.
My birth mother.
My birth mother.
OMG. I have a birthday. You know what this means? I thought I was 15 when I was found. I was 14. Not that it matters, but it’s good to finally know.
Oh well. Worst case, nothing – or at least very little – changes. At least we know I’m a citizen now. Best case – I get a whole new set of family to add on to all of the other family I’ve collected over the past year or so. I guess it could be lots worse.