The search for self is ongoing; having located a sense of self within myself, I feel more grounded, less likely to evaporate at any moment. I am better able to sit with the fact that to accept and understand one's past is a never-ending process. The struggle to reconcile who I am and where I came from, beginning with my early feelings about having been given up and then later the identity crisis of being "found" by my biological parents and on through making the decision to have a child of my own, have all contributed to building a kind of inner strength that is now an integral part of how I move through my life.

And being able to articulate the ways in which I am of not just one of these families but all of these families brings a sense of wholeness to my identity that carries over into my life with my daughter. I am my daughter's mother, and while my own birth may not have been something that was planned or desired, I am now claiming my place as a legitimate person—saying there is in fact no such thing as an illegitimate person. And from this new connection, I am better able to tell my daughter about where she came from and who she is and to help her explore who and what she will become.

A.M. Homes is the author most recently of The Mistress's Daughter, from which this piece is adapted, and This Book Will Save Your Life (both Viking).


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