Feeling like an outsider in your own family is never easy. I’ve heard from friends who were adopted as well as folks raised by a relative who was not their parent: you just always feel off somehow.
My own mother was adopted. For years she reported that the feeling of slight unease — of being replaceable at any moment — was always with her.
For some children, though, there is a question about origin. You might just not know who you belong to or where you are coming from. Or your origin might be part of a larger family secret.
A sense of identity is missing, of your own story being somehow incomplete. This is what Sherri reported feeling. Even her older sister said she was treated like an outcast.
When Sherri was 21, she received a note from an 11-year-old who claimed to be her half-sister. “Hey, you do not know me, but I wish you did,” the letter stated.
“I am your half-sister. My name is Sarah. You are probably freaked out, but your father is my daddy, Wayne.”
A blow to the psyche no doubt. It is not beyond our imagining what such a realization could do to a young person who already felt on the outside of her family.
When Sherri asked her mother Betty about it, her mother ripped the letter from her hand. Wayne, she insisted, was just a guy she had casually dated a long time ago.
Sherri never told anyone about it. The weight of it stayed with her, though.
The man she thought was her father was not, and instead some guy named Wayne was. Her mother’s odd behavior did not help ease her suspicions.
This was not the last letter in this story. At the insistence of her older sister Dana, Sherri scoured her mother’s house until she found the letter tucked inside a bible.
Sherri went on a mission to find Wayne and Sarah and to prove who her father really was. Other letters were uncovered between Wayne and Betty, but Betty still claimed to have no recollection of them.
According to a video from the Dr. Phil program, Sherri and Sarah unearthed a photo from Betty to Wayne labeled ‘our baby.’ Betty still claimed she had no memory of such correspondence.
According to the Dr. Phil program, the sisters did meet and Sherri was able to prove Wayne was her father. The sisters have since engaged in a relationship, one full of complexity and now, bitterness.
Sherri moved to meet Sarah and Wayne and eventually moved in with Wayne. Sarah said Sherri was too dramatic and her children too out of control.
But who knows — Sherri’s own life was rife with mystery and instability, so it’s no wonder she might have difficulties raising her own children or being a confident, well-balanced person herself.
To every kid out there who feels disconnected from their family, I wish you peace this new year. For every kid looking for a lost parent I wish you all the luck, health, and wholeness that life can bring.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.