September 19, 2021
One day I received a message from a man who introduced himself as my father. I decided it was a mistake or someone's joke and told my parents. They turned pale and asked me to sit down...
I was sixteen years old when I discovered I'd been living a lie. That day was ordinary enough. I got up in the morning, had an argument with my mother over my clothing, kissed my father goodbye before he went to work at the hospital.
I remember going to school and flirting with Bobby Campbell in Geometry. It was the last careless, light-hearted day of my childhood. On my way home I saw a message in my inbox and clicked on it.
The message was cryptic: "Hi Lisa, this is your dad." I frowned and checked the sender's ID. It wasn't my dad. In fact, as far as I knew my dad didn't even have an account on the same social network.
That night, after dinner, I mentioned the strange message casually and saw my mother turn pale as a ghost. My cool-headed pragmatic dad jumped up, went to the bar, and poured himself a drink.
He came back nursing a whiskey and soda, and I saw a quick look pass between him and my mother. Dad cleared his throat. "Lisa, honey," he said quietly, "I want to tell you a story."
I felt a shiver of dread. This is how my father always announced bad news, like my grandmother's death when I was eleven: "Lisa, honey, I want to tell you a story..." I knew he was going to tell me something I didn't want to hear.
My mother moved over from her armchair and sat next to me on the couch and held my hand. "Sixteen years ago, I was called in to do an emergency operation on a young girl," dad said.
"She was pregnant, and they thought she and the baby would die," he said quietly. "So they called me." Dad is one of the city's best surgeons and is often called in when cases look hopeless.
"I couldn't save the girl, but I saved the baby, I saved you," his words clanged in my head hollowly, like weird dialogue in one of those foreign movies? I didn't quite understand them.
"Mom and I... We wanted a baby so much," dad said hoarsely, as mom squeezed my hand tighter. "And even though you were fighting for your life, we talked to the girl's mother.
"We asked her to allow us to adopt you -- a private sealed adoption. We didn't even know if you were going to live, but we loved you. Mom was there 24 hours a day until we knew you were out of danger and so was I."
"Mom...Dad..." I whispered, then I got up and pushed my mother away. "What do those words even mean? YOU LIED TO ME!"
"Honey," mom whispered, "we were waiting for your 18th birthday, then we were going to tell you..."
"What about my REAL father?" I screamed. "Did he want me? Or did you just buy me from my mother's mother without asking him what he wanted?"
"Lisa," my dad stretched out his hands to me, "Your mother was 15, your father was 14. His parents agreed..."
"DID HE AGREE?" I screamed angrily. "Or was he just another poor kid you lied to like you lied to me?" I didn't wait to hear my dad's answer. I was running out the door, blinded by tears.
Love and devotion are what makes a family.
I decided to reply to the message. I asked to meet my father immediately, and an hour later he was there. I'd had no time to create an image of him in my mind, but I was surprised. He looked older than I thought he'd be.
He told me he loved me, that he'd been thinking about me for the last sixteen years, and best of all, he told me he wanted me back. That day I went with him to his home. He was married, and I had a little brother!
I loved that! My little brother Sean was nine, and a sweet quiet boy. My stepmother, Meg, was pretty with a loud laugh, and their house wasn't at all what I was used to. It was untidy and small and cramped.
I found myself missing my big, airy room, then I remembered my rich 'parents' had stolen me from my father, from my REAL family, from my real life. I settled in, and Sean made it easier.
One thing that I found particularly disturbing was the way my father and Meg drank. My dad would have a drink once in a long while, and my mom liked a glass of wine with her dinner, but here they drank constantly.
Once my father even offered me a drink. I was shocked. "I don't drink!" I told him. "I'm much too young!"
He just laughed. "I started drinking when I was 12," he said and laughed crudely. "Put hair in my chest and that was how I made you!" I looked away, as I always did when he said something I didn't like.
That was when Sean came in, asking for dinner. There was no food in the house, so Meg told him to have some cereal. I told her I'd go to the store if my father would lend me the car, and he threw me the keys.
I told Sean I wouldn't be long, and drove away. That's all I remember, but later I was told that a car plowed into me at an intersection, and the paramedics had to cut me out of the car.
I was rushed to the hospital, and they thought I wouldn't make it. I had severe internal injuries, and both my kidneys were destroyed. My only hope was a transplant from a living donor.
My biological father and Sean were tested, and my father turned out to be a match, but at the last minute, he refused to give me his kidney. My dad was there and mom told me later that he wanted to hit my father.
Anyway, dad called in a favor, and mom gave her own kidney in a cross donation to a kid on the transplant list in exchange for a kidney from one of her relatives who was a match.
They saved me, my mom and dad saved my life. Dad overruled the hospital and did the surgery himself -- he said he wouldn't trust my life to anyone else. Twenty-two hours later I was out of the OR.
When I woke up two days later, mom and dad were there, looking pale and tired, holding my hand. When mom saw I'd opened my eyes she started crying. "I'm sorry, Lisa," she said. "We should have told you before..."
"We love you so much..." my dad said, "Please, honey, please come home!"
I started crying too, and I asked them to forgive me for the things I'd said. When I recovered, I went home with them, to my real home, my real family. I never saw my biological father again, but I keep in touch with Sean. Now I know how lucky I am to have my parents.
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