P.S. Thank You by Kai Edin-Nelson
It’s interesting, you know. Being adopted. Being Black. Having White parents. A Puerto Rican sister. And a family with so many colors, and backgrounds. It’s interesting, you know. To read about a world you know exists that you are a part of, and can apply so closely and yet so far from your own life. So many things about A Twist of Water relate directly to me, or a little more indirectly. We have a white father, and a black daughter. Well that’s me and my dad. We have a gay couple parenting, and while I have a mom and a dad, I am a lesbian and my partner and I intend to have children. We have death, and mourning, and immense grief that leads to anger. While I haven’t lost a parent I know what that grief can do, and how it changes you. Makes you feel like you are drowning and don’t know if you’ll be able to make it to the surface.
I find it interesting, the closeness of Jira to her recently deceased father, Richard. And some of the disconnect in the relationship between her other father Noah. I think kids tend to bond with one parent or the other. For me, it was my dad. We’ve always been close. He taught me to drive, took me to my sporting events, we have inside jokes, and have always kind of been in sync. I couldn’t help but laugh a little, and cringe a little too when Jira spoke with Liam about the events in the hospital. She said “Noah had the documentation to prove I’m the daughter, like, a passport, because that never leaves his wallet, because there have been too many airport security checkpoints and hotels and waitresses who are concerned and could he please just prove that he’s really supposed to be with me so they don’t have to call anyone? I had a passport when I was four, I think. I’ve never been out of the country.”
I specifically remember one of the times it was just me and my dad crossing the border into Canada to go to the family cabin. I can’t remember why it was just us, but I remember him asking me to open the glove box so he could take out my birth certificate and my passport, and to just sit and not say anything while the border security people looked over all the documents. People always stare, ask questions, or assume wildly inappropriate things whenever it’s just me and my dad. As if there’s no other reason for a white man and a younger black girl/woman to be in the same space, or hug in public, or even hold hands, I was a pretty clingy kid. But it’s something you notice, regardless of whether you want to or not. When you go to a restaurant and they try to seat you separately despite the fact that you walked in together, and were talking to each other even when they ask how many people the table is for. The story brought up so many things. Jira’s search for “family”. Her interest in knowing her “mother”. Her feeling like nobody wanted her, even though there was someone there who very much did. I never truly considered meeting my birth mother. At one point, when I lived in South Carolina for a year of college, I thought about it, mainly because it would be convenient as I was already in the state. But for me…I have my family. I have a dad, a mom, and a sister. I’ve never really wanted anything else. I don’t know if that’s the case for all adopted children, or more specifically interracially adopted kids. I just know for me, I’ve felt at home in the only place I have ever known to be home.
“P.S. If you decide you wouldn’t like to meet me I’d appreciate it if you could send a list of hereditary conditions or things I should look out for. Thank you.” –Jira
If there was one thing about Jira’s story that’s spot on the money for me, it would be this. My curiosity extends to wanting to know about any of the things to look out for, as I move forward in my own growth, journey, and understanding of who I am. And maybe one day, I’ll be curious enough to meet the woman who gave me life, but who also gave me up in order to give me the life I am so grateful to have, and the family who chose me, and has loved me, and made me into who I am today.
Senior Program Officer
Kaitlin (Kai) Edin-Nelson conducts Civics and Citizenship programs at Patterson and Benjamin Franklin High School in Baltimore City. She graduated from North Park University with a degree in Criminal Justice and Sociology. The experience of working with ORPHANetwork in Managua, Nicaragua sparked her interest to learn Spanish. She spent almost seven months living in Costa Rica, learning the language, culture, and loving the people. Always having a passion working for youth, prior to joining the Liberty’s Promise team she worked with an alternative to incarceration program in NYC whose focus was giving young people charged with felonies the opportunity to receive a non-jail sentence. She hopes to eventually pursue a graduate degree in Non-Profit Management or Social Work. Kai believes in being a mentor and advocate to help break down barriers and work towards equal access for underserved populations. She hopes to continue to work alongside young people to help them succeed in this capacity.