Relatives

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My great-grandmother Grace with her parents

I was adopted when I was nine days old. There was a time when I could only hope to one day find my birth family. Then, about 11 years ago I found my birth mother, my half sister, and a family full of aunties and uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephew. They welcomed me with great care and great love and we are family.

I thought I would never find my birth father, then about 5 years ago, I did. And, while I did not receive the same open-hearted sense of family – to know who he is, to know his son, to know their faces as my own blood is a great gift.

But, the story has recently become even richer. Just as I always knew I was adopted, I have also always known I am Native. I have always identified as a Native person even though for many years I didn’t know what that meant. When I found my birth mother’s family I could finally immerse myself in my Umatilla/Nez Perce culture.

When I found my birth father, I thought the story was complete.

But, I was wrong. There was more to the story and it has turned out that my birth father’s family is also Native. And I have new aunties and an uncle and more cousins to walk with on this life journey. And I have two more Native communities to call home.

And so now I know. I am Umatilla, Nez Perce, Sac and Fox. And I am Bitter Water Clan Navajo and Sihasapa Lakota.

Mostly, I am blessed. With an abundance of family. Native and non-Native. Relatives of blood and of heart.

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