I have a fondness for this day we celebrate our collective Irish heritage--both real and imagined.
I don't necessarily imbibe in green beer, though I have, and I did enjoy corned beef and cabbage today (a first). I don't love St. Patrick's Day because I'm particularly fond of bagpipes or long lines at Irish Pubs.
I love St. Patrick's Day because I'm adopted.
In my sister's case, the fact of her adoption was a little more obvious. My first real memories are of the events surrounding her adoption when I was 3 1/2. She actually went home with her biological family for a few months before coming to us and we know that she is of Puerto Rican descent.
My sister and I look nothing alike--but I tend to forget. As a matter of fact, when my nephew (now my eldest son--different story for a different day) was born he looked so much like my sister that I cried when I met him because I finally felt like I looked like someone I knew.
So what does this all have to do with St. Patrick's Day? I'm getting there.
In my twenties, I requested the non-identifying information about my adoption from the agency that handled it. Honestly, I wasn't looking for much information, though I did discover I had been given another first name at birth (my mom swears she told me this--I contend that's not something I would have forgotten) and that my birth parents weren't related by blood (Phew! Dodged that bullet! Shit I hadn't even contemplated the possibility.) I was interested in a totally different piece of information. There was only one thing I wanted to know--one little thing that has always bugged me.
I want to know my ethnic background.
As an adoptee, I've never been too interested in finding my biological parents, but I have wanted to feel some connection to those who have come before me. To be able to stake a claim to an ethnic "home country" feels like it would give me a sense of my place in the chain of human events.
So there I was, scanning through the documents I received from the agency, finding out that my name had been Emily for a few days and my birth parents were young and probably "made" me in the back of a Trans-Am with Led Zepplin blaring on the AM radio, when my eyes found the box containing the information I had been searching for.
Ethnic heritage: American
My blue eyes, dark hair and plethora of freckles suggest that this didn't mean Native American.
My physical characteristics suggest I'm Irish. I once dated a self-proclaimed "black Irish" guy and it was somewhat awkward to kiss in public, because people often thought we were siblings.
Does it make sense now why I love St. Patrick's Day?
It's the one day a year I get to have a nationality--even if I don't have proof.