Seeing The Adoption

By Tyler Price

Mom does her best to support the family without the dad I rarely see. College is not my thing. I’m looking for my big break as a rapper–it’s my only hope to help my mom raise my younger sister. I was working a job in interior renovation, but the discovery that I was allergic to plexiglass ended that opportunity. 

The life and perspective described above is not mine. I live far away from that reality due to an act of fate out of my control. I am a child of an adoption, and my biological brother’s life mirrors the description above.

At sixteen, I stand at the mystery door of a two-family, wooden ranch house. I look around, witnessing what my birth family sees each day in New Orleans East.

When the door opens, I see my little sister Anita for the first time. She stares at me, and keeps staring. I enter the house and see my birth mother, Rayna, sitting on the couch. She says my older brother and sister are en route. Minutes later, they arrive, and we are arrested by a spell of awkwardness that seems like hours.

Eventually, someone has a bright idea–lunch. Since we are in New Orleans, we decide on crawfish and shrimp. I ride with Anthony and Antoinette, my brother and sister. That car ride changes everything. Despite different life perspectives, our camaraderie, nurtured by the romance of a long separation coming to an end, is instant. I know it will be eternal.

I grew up an only child until the day I met my biological siblings. Afterwards, my brother, Anthony, introduced me to my home away from home – New Orleans – on several trips, while I gave him tours of Martha’s Vineyard, which he loved. Almost every weekend, we go on our phones and play Crazy Eight.

A chilling question has haunted me since I have become close to Anthony, who is a year older than me and spends most of his days writing rhymes and smoking weed. What if our places were switched and I was the brother who lacked the parents who sent him to the best schools and provided opportunities for travel to Cuba and China?

At a young age, Mom and Dad told me I was born to a teenage mother in New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina destroyed the adoption agency’s office making it difficult to find them.  Over a decade later, Mom (using an agency out of Boston) successfully reconnected with my birth family, and decided it was time for all of us to meet.

The more I learn about my roots, the more I refuse to take anything for granted. I know the struggles I could have confronted if I wasn’t the brother given the opportunities to succeed. I now find myself spending more time studying subjects I once hated. For years, I never did well in science, but after my first trip to New Orleans, I carried a can-do attitude to biology. Now, science has become one of my strongest subjects. When I was sixteen, I found a job at Stop & Shop to save and invest, and started subscribing to The Wall Street Journal.  

I am now ever more aware of the obstacles created by lack of exposure to opportunities.  I hope to use my education and privilege to create a society with more solid routes to success. Why does there have to be only one lucky brother out of the two? Why does the factor of a luck we do not control so greatly impact our possibilities?

My bond with Anthony also pushes me to look beyond our differences. I struggle to refrain from imposing my values on him while still trying to be a supportive friend and brother. Through him, I see the value of my upbringing but also have a greater respect for difference as our relationship evolves.

Tyler Price, a graduate of Beaver Country Day in a freshman at Lehigh.