I haven’t been home in eight years.
It’s my choice, but it’s still difficult.
Every Christmas, the pain is there.
It’s a familiar pain—one I feel on my birthday, on Mother’s Day, and each time I’m told my parents must be proud of me.
I’m not going to lie—I cried as soon as I woke up this morning, and I’m on the verge again of crying tonight.
I try to be okay.
I try to connect.
I try to find “family.”
And I have.
There’s my beautiful family in Costa Rica who call me “Rebe.” My stocking with my name hangs over their Christmas tree each year.
There’s my Brazilian family who calls me “Rebequinha” and the small town of Barroso where they are from, where almost all the citizens know my name.
There’s my Brazilian uncle who often takes a shot of alcohol, raises it to me, and asks, “Você está comigo Rebeca?” Are you with me Rebecca?
I always raise my glass and say, “Estou contigo sempre.” I am always with you.
There are my high school teacher and his wife who care for me as if I were their own and have known me since the day I went abroad at 16. I am always invited to their home with fresh towels waiting for my arrival.
There are the therapists who I pretend are hummingbirds on my shoulder when I cry myself to sleep the nights when, no matter how hard I try, nowhere feels like “home.”
There are my friends in New Jersey, New York, and California who have mothers that have adopted me in their hearts.
There’s my job, where we call ourselves the “JSA Family” because it is just that—a family.
There are many families around me that I belong to, and yet, I still cry because I’m not blood.
I wasn’t a foster child.
I wasn’t adopted.
Rather, I was the black sheep of a dysfunctional family.
If you are or were also a black sheep, then you know of this pain.
I write this article tonight for all the misfits, black sheep, and children who grew up in foster care and may have never felt loved.
I want you to know that you’re part of my family, and I am thinking of you.
Just as my families here and abroad have done for me, my door is always open for you.
I mean it.
Send a message.
Let me know how you’re doing.
I would love to have more friends and family this year.