Elisa Nickerson was born in Connecticut in 1971. Her relinquishment and adoption were handled by Catholic Charities. All information about her birth parents,original birth certificate, foster care for her first 3 months were all sealed and remained unavailable for most of her life. Elisa was adopted and raised by loving parents who were open and honest about her adoption. Even in a supportive home, Elisa felt different from her family, like she wasn’t real. Her parents divorced when she was a teenager. Her adoptive mother began drinking and struggled with depression. She passed away in 2021.
When Elisa became a mother in 2003, she felt her longing and loss for her birth story really come to the surface. In 2010, Elisa decided to contact Catholic Charities to begin the search for her birth mother. The adoption liaison found her birth mother, contacted her telling her Elisa would most like a reunion. Her birth mother said no. This secondary rejection was devastating.
In 2019, Elisa found her biological father via DNA. He was open, loving, kind and has been very involved in building a relationship. Elisa discovered she grew up in the same town her biological parents met in and went to school with her first cousin. Being in reunion with her paternal family has been beautiful and painful. To see the likeness, the overwhelming love from him and his side of my family has caused deep grief and as wonderful as her relatives have been, there is still a sense of not belonging. The reunion experience has been so emotionally complicated, Elisa felt at times it would have been easier not knowing, to live in the ignorance of her identity was at least the life she already knew. Finding a way to exist in two families has been exhausting. Through therapy, writing and fellow adoptee connections, Elisa is working on finding peace with her story, to hold gratitude for her very existence and all that shaped her life. She has a tattoo on her forearm of a rootless tree with a lush, leafy top. Rootless but full. She has created a rich life with her husband and children. Another tattoo on her arm is of a compass, with true north pointed directly up at her own heart, grounded in the now.