think of the children

I feel inclined to preface this with a deep, warm gratitude that I had an opportunity to leave ‘the system’, though I did not understand foster care to be a bad thing, as I believe I had better experiences than most in my foster home in Los Angeles.

Also, I only had one foster home that I can recall, which probably illustrates my situation rather well.

Children who are given up at or near birth (and even later) are often overlooked, and I am certain I will hold a soft spot forever for those who’ve been through the foster care system and adoption, even if I don’t end up voicing it after this.

We are better than the unfortunate things that have happened to us.

I am not going to go into great detail about my childhood post-adoption – that is to say, I will not be discussing isolated incidents. I have decided that doing so has been and will continue to be detrimental to my moving forward as an adult, but I will say that it was not all rosy.

As a young girl, I was given most freedoms over sense of style, save special events and holidays. I usually liked shirts and pants. I was fond of stripes. I wasn’t most folks’ idea of girly, but I was a kid, so none of that mattered to me really. I had a lot of energy, and when I wasn’t reading, I was running around playgrounds chasing people I liked.

I did well in school without much effort, and people in my little family praised me as gifted, but I never felt anything out of the ordinary. Not until I started asking questions that some adults didn’t want to answer.

My personal history was not my business, I learnt.

‘You don’t need to know’ statements surfaced. It struck me as odd that there was such secrecy around the first few years of my life, and my curiosity was met with anger usually. Eventually I stopped asking, but my curiosity never abated.

Fall ’05, Los Angeles: I find an album with photos of me.

I am seven years old in this photo.

I only felt as good as my accomplishments, most of which I felt to the person raising me included getting high marks in school, being and staying pretty to be bragged about, and being subservient. Since I don’t tend to pride myself on any of those things for too long a time, that didn’t make me feel good at all. I grew distant, and got quieter.

As I am nearing my thirties, I find that I am not any closer to finding out about my past than I was 10 years ago. I find that disconcerting, and shall begin filling out California state paperwork to the best of my ability and limited knowledge, in the hope that I can figure this out and put it all behind me, if necessary. Some chapters ache for closure.

Summer ’07, San Francisco

I am slowly processing the observation that the person who raised me and I want and value different things out of our parent-child relationship. I cannot give this person what they want, and they cannot give me what I want. The other party takes personal slight to this, but as the years go on, I can only hope they’ll see it’s more a matter of accepting things as they are between two people who are so different.

I look forward to pushing the files of this closed adoption open, to learn about my medical particulars and maybe even see if I can connect with my siblings. I wonder, do they even know about me?

It is within a person’s right to seek out their own personal history, with whatever aid they can find along the way. I am lucky to have support. Here’s to this adventure I’m about to embark on, one that might be the most difficult ever I’ve ever attempted.

cheers for all the years

Today is my dad’s birthday. I won’t say how old he is, because he’ll of course murder me.

My dad and I never lived more than a couple hours’ drive away because of circumstances, but I was attached to him from a very young age.

My opinion of him is this: a seemingly fearless guy who is fun to be around, fiercely intelligent and has a firm grasp on things. I can think of few better positive influences for a young girl.

Much like my aunt, Daddio never hesitated to call me on my behaviour when I was being an unwise young person (which happens a great deal when you’re a young person). I could always count on both of them for mutual respect throughout my growing pains, tantrums and the like.

At the same time, they didn’t stifle anything about my development. I made my own decisions, and my own mistakes in the process. I learned from them, and I continue to learn with them.

whee

“You’re over 21 now, right?” I remember my dad saying once over a Sunday brunch table, and summarily ordering a pitcher of margarita for us to share.

These are how our hangouts go: walking about town, eating and drinking, and spending hours getting up to speed with one another again. They’re great.

I’d wager that my relationship with my dad is one of the truly most effortless relationships I will ever have in my life. He taught me the value of independence, of exploration of self and beyond, and of doing my part for long periods of time before enjoying the rewards that may come.

The lessons taught and the time spent wherever possible have yielded this love in which I hold for no one else, Daddio.

I love you, and thank you for all that you’ve done in helping me grow. Happy birthday.

what it is to be bran

I had a different name at birth that only a few people know. Sometimes I forget it, and I have them remind me.

 

I’ve been told I was given the name Brandy later on due to the colour of my skin. I carried it for a decade plus, though I never felt it fit my persona. It seemed to fall off my tongue wrong every time when introducing myself, and I was already packing the awkward sheltered kid bit.

While developing said awkward sheltered kid bit, my mother would occasionally call me Bran. This was found to be most convenient when shouting for me to come home from playing outside with other children from my block, as I was much more likely to hear a heavily stressed one-syllable name than anything else, with all the adrenaline swarming about.

It stuck.

 

 

Bran started out as a thing between my mum and I, for aforementioned daughter retrieval purposes. For reasons I’ve yet to fully identify or explore, I decided to take it back in my late teens. That was a period of great personal change, sparked by family tragedies. I reckon a small part of it was due to being tired of having my name misspelled any number of ways — my given surname and first name both have lots of alternatives. (One problem abolished, another arrives; I’m sometimes called Bren or Brian.)

My first love knew me as Bran. It turned into a thing between myself, my mum, and those close to me, an upgrade to provisional nickname status. I didn’t make a big fuss about it if folks weren’t aware or simply forgot, because it felt private, and special.

branfront
Bran in secret, sometime 2004

The name resurfaced with some urgency in my late twenties somehow. I entered a work environment where I felt okay enough to go by the nickname, not fearing being questioned too much about a name most in my experience assume belongs to a male-bodied person. I started introducing myself as Bran, although I knew with it came questions and a need to repeat the name occasionally. “Like the muffin,” I add from time to time, as I find it’s a good way to dial up the name and spelling to newcomers.

Moving to a new state sort of meant I could reinvent myself as I pleased. I’d long abandoned the idea of moving to Philadelphia and took on my first choice of Seattle. It is here that I have attached a somewhat political undertone to the Bran name, with a slight nod to my mum due to its origins. Instead of hiding away my boyish mannerisms, I’ve chosen to embrace them in addition to the occasional streaks of femme I yearn for.

rainbowbran

Bran out loud, sometime 2010

I wouldn’t say that I’m angry at all when people choose to call me by my full name, especially if they aren’t aware that there is a name that I feel suits me better.

There are occasions where it’s just easier to go by a more common name, places where I don’t want to open myself up to the scrutiny of strangers, and a myriad of other possibilities that I cannot predict. We’re human, we falter. I am certainly guilty of that.

I feel it’s a matter of trust. When I refer to myself as Bran in front of you, I am placing a key part of my identity that has evolved over the years into your hands. I don’t have to get into the whole story, but I’ll tell you in person if you so desire. I am far from famous but if I have made an impact in your life in any way, I hope you’ll remember my name.