I’ve always known who I was; I just didn’t always know the role genetics would play in it all.
To say the concept of identity has been a layered one for me would be a huge understatement, but not in the way you probably believe.
You see, I’m adopted. I’m also transracially adopted.
Most people aren’t keen on what that term “transracially adopted” means, and while there is much to explain on the subject, I’ll make it easy and say that I’m a biracial (African-American and European) woman who was adopted at birth by two white parents. I’m a California native who grew up with a family that was blessed to do a lot of what they desired in life, which meant I was no stranger to travel and lovely experiences, even from a very young age. I had the added element of being a successful child actor-model and appearing in over two dozen nationally circulating commercials and print ad campaigns. In a sentence? People were always curious about who I was, and even more so, what I was.
As I grew up, my career took me to various locations, both to live and to conduct business. Upon having a single conversation with a colleague, it was not uncommon to be asked, “Where are you from?” I would reply with my typical, “Southern California” answer, but it was soon clear that my response didn’t really satiate their curiosities. What they really wanted to know was why my hair was different, why my skin was a shade deeper in hue. They couldn’t figure me out.
My story has always been a complex one, and I’ve embraced that. It’s what makes me unique in a world full of people trying desperately to fit in.
While being adopted was something I understood and had no problems with, I never truly understood the role identity would play and the impact it would have on my life until I became a mother. Looking back, my home was always so filled with love that I suppose I just became accustomed to not seeing anyone with my nose or eyes. I had a mom and dad who adored me, and that’s all that really mattered.
Then it happened. I gave birth to my first child.
I held him in that hospital room, and for the first time, I saw myself.
I saw my sandy brown curls and my hazel eyes in his. I would go on to have a second son who would inherit my contemplative pout and wide-eyed fascination with new things. I watch them daily, finding pieces of myself in the way their hands are shaped or how they pursue their childlike interests. I listen to the stories my mom and dad share about the things Kingsley and Kensington do that mirror my own habits at their ages. It’s amazing! I never realized how profound those moments would be.
Through my sons, I see myself. I see all the missing puzzle pieces I didn’t have until now. I’ve also been able to experience the love my own parents have for me, and it’s palpable.
My sons have taught me so much over the course of their short lives. They changed everything about me for the better. Perhaps most of all, they’ve opened my eyes to a deeper level of my own identity. While I may never fit neatly into anyone’s socially constructed box, I’m confident I’m becoming more and more of myself each day as I raise my sons and live my best life as Breegan Jane: interior designer, entrepreneur, radio host and most treasured of all, mom.
That’s my identity. And it’s priceless.