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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Etter

Adoption Matters

Today my birthfather invited my partner and I to visit him in South Carolina when we have our second wedding reception in Illinois in September. When he expressed his interest in showing me his university, I was reminded that I used to think it was all about nurture. I found my birthmother when I was twenty, and we didn't seem to have anything in common. I tended to explain my conjunction of passions by saying my (adoptive) father was originally a journalist, my mother a teacher.

My ideas about nurture vs. nature shifted in 2016. That was the year I found my son and learned he did his degree in creative writing and English at the private university more or less in my hometown, that he studied with a critic I knew well and a philosopher who'd been in my class at high school. When I learned of his particular interests in flash fiction and prose poetry, I gasped: I'd created both a module for my university and a blog on the conjunction a decade earlier. This common ground gave us an opportunity to be friends in a way I never imagined.

I found my birthfather a few months later, unexpectedly quickly. My birthfather turned out to be a philosopher of science--as was my first husband when we met--and had a strong academic career. We swapped emails, and I soon learned of a half-sister--also a poet, who had completed an MFA in poetry as I did, teaching at a community college in North Carolina (the career I imagined for myself for a long time).

And today is my adoption birthday. I was adopted two weeks after my birth, by Henry and Bernadine Etter, two of the most loving, generous people (sometimes to a fault) I've ever known. They shouldn't have died in their sixties.

I'm still figuring this out. And I'm excited. Hopeful. Intrigued.

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