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FOUR years ago, when I was 24, my mother handed me a case file on myself. I had long known that I was adopted as an infant and that my birth mother had died in a car accident several years after I was born. But this case file was new to me.

Growing up, I had internalized my parents’ matter-of-fact approach to the subject, and by the time I was in elementary school, being adopted hardly seemed worth mentioning. Even so, when a classmate and I came across a book called “Why Was I Adopted?” one day during reading time, I said to him happily, “I’m adopted!”

“No you’re not,” he replied. “You’re lying.”

“I really am,” I said, bursting into tears.

I told the teacher’s aide, and within minutes I was already over it, but the aide apparently saw the chance for a teachable moment.

“Do you know why you were adopted?” she asked.

I told her it was because when I was a baby, my biological mother didn’t want to take care of me anymore.

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