My Blue Origins

Michele Merritt
18 min readAug 19, 2021

An adoptee’s reentry does not guarantee safe landing

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

I was 39-years-old, staring at my father’s face for the first time in my life. To be precise, it was the second time, but I have no conscious recollection of the first. I saw him the day I was born, as he held me and said his goodbyes, but my infant eyes could not focus very well and I had not learned to process language, so I suspect he sounded like the adults in those Charlie Brown cartoons. Like all other infants, I relied on touch and smell to make sense of my world for the first few weeks, and like every baby, I was scared and confused when my mother and father disappeared. For most babies, their parents return after a short while. Mine never did.

Eventually, I could decode the words my adoptive parents spoke to me. It was one of the first things I learned, one of the first memories I can consciously recall — that I was adopted. Being adopted is not my origin story, however. My adoption is the story of the day two wonderful people became my forever parents and realized their dream. It was a lilac and marigold day, the start of a new life. But it was not the beginning of my life. There was a lot of me before I knew them. I existed before my childhood of rainbows and swimming pool afternoons with melting ice-cream sandwiches and fluffy golden retrievers licking my toes. My origins are blue and this is the story of finding them — of finding him. This is my reentry into a family I was never fully a part of but one I never really left behind. It is my captain’s log, recounting my navigation between two families, the ones who made me, and the ones who raised me.

My origins are the space where the sky meets the sea — a line plainly visible but impossible to grasp. This is the story of my brief reentry into the eternal recurrence of being that ushered me forth onto the shore and dragged me back out with its tides. I might have only known my father a tiny fraction of my days on this planet, but it was the greatest privilege.

Growing up, I was always drawn to the ocean. I spent many of my childhood days digging in the sand and bounding into the crashing waves. As a toddler, I’m told that whenever there was water around, even if it was far too cold for any typical human, I would be submerged faster than my parents could manage to get my shoes off, swimming like a fish…

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Michele Merritt

Philosophy professor. Adoptee. Advocate. Activist. Marathon swimmer. Cheese consumer. I write about dogs a lot. michelemerritt.com