I was fifteen years old when the judge finalized the adoption papers. We ate at my favorite burger place after the signing ceremony. I’d already finished my double cheeseburger and started in on my extra-large side of fries when Dad turned to me and said, “You’re officially part of the family now. It’s time you truly understood.”
I just raised an eyebrow and stuffed a handful fries into my mouth. He had a tendency for the dramatic.
“We’re not from around here,” he started, stealing one of my fries while Mom was at the counter asking for more dressing.
“I know. You and Mom came here from some dinky town in Eastern Europe to escape the cold and your growing dissatisfaction with a corrupt government.” I slapped his hand as he reached for another fry. “I’ve heard this before.”
“Well … that’s not exactly the truth.” Dad looked to Mom for backup, the same way he did when he wasn’t sure whether I needed grounding.
She tore open the dressing packet. “We were trying to find someplace warmer. And more politically stable. Those parts are true,” Mom said. “It just wasn’t exactly Eastern Europe.” She took a bite of salad and handed the conversation back to Dad with a look.
“What’s the big deal, guys?” I didn’t care whether they were from Eastern Europe, Western Europe, or Timbuktu (wherever that was). I was just glad they happened to be in central Minnesota, looking for a kid to foster just when I needed fostering. “I’ll love you both even if …” I sat up straight and did my best Saturday Night Live Conehead impression. “ … ‘you come from France!’”
“Heh.” Dad laughed weakly. “You’re not actually that far off.”
“Wait. What? You’re from France!?” I clapped my hands. “Do you still have family there? When can we go visit? I am so totally going to take a selfie in a real French L’oreal store!” I bounced in the booth like an over-sugared toddler.
Mom set her fork on the edge of her plate and took my hands in hers. She waited until I stopped wiggling and looked her in the eye before continuing, “That’s not the part you were right about.”
* 6/20 prompt “You’re part of the family now. It’s time you truly understood.”