Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

On Family History, Roots, Adoption, and the Branches of Life

Each night, a girl dreams of being back home in the kingdom. She can’t quite picture the faces around the late evening feast but it’s large and loud. Viking hats litter the table next to their owner’s plates. She’d never been here before, but had somehow, and knew that it’d be disrespectful of the men around the table to wear them just as it would be for her to grab food before grace was said. She waited. She was hungry, and excited. This was a big day for the village, she knew.

Her father raised his glass. “Amen! Now, feast!” and she relaxed.

She goes to bed with a full belly on animal skins and torches on the walls. She dreams in music. She wakes humming foreign words and foreign tunes, smiling to herself that she remembered. She thinks today will be the one when she tells her brothers about Viking hats and how it was before she lived with this family.

She wishes she remembered her before family although she’s sure about the Viking hats.

Roots run deeper and more connected when you

“You think we’re taking a walk,” my son says. “But we’re not, so please stop.” I wonder whether this is one of those moments when I’m supposed to set boundaries as a parent. After all, we’d left the house specifically to take a walk. But I’d said yes when he asked if he could practice his “moves,” an adorable and questionably coordinated (but awesome for him) combination of YouTube hiphop and Parkour.

“Please turn on the music,” he said.

“What song?”

“Roots,” (pronounced Woots) he replied. And so I did. He danced in the grass while gnats flicked around my face. He crouched in the dirt to Mine for a stick, and I told him that it’d be a hard one to dig up. “It’s a root, and roots run deep.”

“What percent deep?” he said.

“Mega Google percent deep deep, under houses and rivers everywhere. Roots are like a web all around the planet,” I said. He poked at it further.

“Really?” he said. He looked like he might not believe me.

my son asked me about family roots and tree roots. He doesn


What does adoption feel like? I wonder how my childhood is different from his because of my dual roots.

“I’ll show you a picture,” I said. We walked home, had dinner. “Did you know roots run deep?” he asked his dad.

I need to show him some root photos. I’d forgotten that there aren’t any trees in deserts though. I remind myself to tell him about deserts tomorrow, after school. I wonder about the roots there, buried deep under the sand. Whether there are any at all, knowing that there are because of the people who have traveled across them. Died trying to. Their roots.


The girl hears her mom say that it’s time for school, that breakfast is ready, and like that, the foreign words and tunes are forgotten once her feet touch the carpet of her bedroom. These days, she looks forward to riding in the back of Grandma’s station wagon. She wonders how she got here and forgets about wondering when she smells food downstairs, knowing her brothers will swipe her second pancake if she doesn’t get downstairs in time. 

She sits at school, almost remembering but is too shy to ask whether anybody else remembers where they’re from long ago and yesterday. Her dad knows. She hoped her teachers would talk about roots and trees and families. She wonders where she came from, adopted.

“Today’s what matters,” she says to her desk. They’re learning about hearts and one of the girls is bringing a cow heart to class so the kids can see it in real life. She feels sick thinking about it. The cow who no longer has his heart.

Her desk is full of scratches and initials from kids who’d sat there before her. It smells like disinfectant and pencil shavings and that earthy playground smell. Of world and of kids. It’s her desk, and it’s not, because of the roots breathed in it before she was here.

They’re having a bomb drill, and for that, she’s grateful. It breaks up the day and reminds her of Viking fights and boar hunts and the smell of her before-home.

She crouches under her desk waiting for the teacher’s words. Her nose is next to the gray floor, so close that she could lick it and nobody would see. She shifts her elbows and knees, waiting for the much-anticipated drill to be over.

The floor is cold, and she’d rather do math.

She’s still though. She’s a rule-follower, afterall. Maybe even a Viking. She doesn’t lick the floor. She could, though. 

“We’re safe!” the teacher says.  It was, after all, the 80’s. “The Russians have spared us again. Good job students, and remember your training! Oh! And it’s the same for a tornado drill – don’t forget!”


Today, I am from two different sets of roots and have created a third of my own. I do not know how far the roots of my biological family grew from the ones I became a branch of. Under the dirt, somewhere, they connect even if only through shared energy and love.

I think about roots, and how I said “no” to meeting my biological mother when I was in my 20’s although I’d dreamed of her Vikings and of finding her at the local swimming pool for years. I knew I’d know her because her earlobes would be attached and her toes would be ugly like mine are.

I think about the day that I said yes, and how it wasn’t until I’d had my son, a new branch on this winding and complicated tree.

My parents asked what adoption felt like, and I didn’t have an answer. Dual roots, is what I’d say now. I think.


Today, my son is from many roots and many trees. With my biological family now known, their tree leans closer to the ones in which I was raised. My parents, my brothers, and my husband and his family. So many different roots.

A root soup of western Europe and, on my husband’s mother’s side, Native Americans who fought in the Appalachians. His dad finds arrowheads on his farm.


My son mines for ore and roots here in suburbia, and we tell him about his roots. We tell him about how my grandpa mined for gold and about how is Granny’s people fought with arrows. About how all of these are connected. About how while he doesn’t remember his Granny, her birthday that’s no longer a birthday is coming up.


We talk about the power of stories and our pasts, and we try to light the fire of interest in history in our son. We focus more on the future though. Or, at least try to.

Because while what’s underground is what’s holding us here, it’s the branches that create new life and new beliefs. Acceptance for special needs, different faces, and different roots. That’s really what matters today. 

***kristi rieger campbell finished post for finding ninee***

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “When it comes to my roots…” or “Long ago, my family…” (or another about family, roots, and your past).
Your host this week is, as always, Kristi from Finding Ninee (future co-hosting is available if you join our FB group).

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  • JT Walters - Beautiful metaphor of the tree and so true of our existence. The tree of life…we have past, present and branch out into the future. We choose those branches as you so eloquently put. Our branches can be full of love and acceptance or our branches can be narrow and unaccepting. In life all these trees exist. It is natural.

    The hardest part is deciding what kind of tree you wish to be.

    You my friend are a beautiful strong oak with wide strong branches that are open, loving and accepting. You make the world a more beautiful place with each blog.

    Thank you, Kristi!June 2, 2016 – 10:46 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Wow to the idea of all these trees exist. So very true and YOU are a beautiful strong oak with a knot on one of your branches that I’m so glad you’re taking care of to grow stronger and more rooted. Here’s to sun and shade, friend.June 3, 2016 – 7:22 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - Roots can be a tricky subject, right? I know what you mean – on the one hand, it’s interesting to learn about our past and our roots, but on the other hand, sometimes it might be better to focus on the future more. Our personal history can help us understand ourselves more in certain contexts (for ex, my mother used to reuse the same paper towel over and over again until she couldn’t reuse it anymore. It kind of drove me mad, but she always said that behavior was driven by the fact that she was brought up during the depression), but in other contexts maybe it’s better not to know too much, right? I don’t know, maybe I’m overthinking it??June 2, 2016 – 10:51 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Emily, the Depression behavior is huge – my Grandma used to wash out ziplock bags which drove me crazy although now, I’m like “huh, they are kinda a waste” but more from a landfill standpoint. I guess each decade gives us new knowledge of roots and pasts… and no I think you’re just right thinking it. Sometimes, it’s truly better to not know, I think.June 3, 2016 – 7:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Marcia @Menopausalmom - Your writing skills never cease to amaze me. This is exceptional. And it resonates with my family because my husband is adopted—as was his biological mother, who took the secret of his father’s identity to the grave with her 10 years ago. My hubs always says his side of the family tree has root rot…..June 3, 2016 – 12:33 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Oh Marcia, that is SO nice, thank you huge. Wow to your husband’s bio mom taking his father’s ID to the grave. I did meet my bio mom and sister but the father refused to meet me. LOL to root rot. Sadly though, it’s so often the case, in many families with adoptions and without. xoJune 3, 2016 – 7:29 pmReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - Absolutely loved your ending here and just couldn’t agree more that it is acceptance first and foremost and the branches, too that bring us new life. Beautifully and perfectly said ❤️June 3, 2016 – 2:08 amReplyCancel

  • Deborah Lovel Bryner - <3 What a beautiful post! I love your Thanks for sharing this.June 3, 2016 – 2:49 amReplyCancel

  • Allie - After seeing you and specifically talking about adoption, I am amazed at how you can spin all these feelings into such a beautiful and introspective post. You are amazing Ms. Campbell, and Tucker is extremely lucky to have such strong and interesting roots for his foundation. He will grow big and tall!June 3, 2016 – 9:22 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Allie! I think our talk was brewing in my brain because when I sat to write this last night, it just made sense. OH and I thought of the sentence prompt right after seeing you so BOOM thank you!! Also YOU are amazing. He will grow big and tall. Maybe, he’ll get to marry Audrey because STILL TALKING ABOUT HER. <3June 3, 2016 – 8:36 pmReplyCancel

  • Scott Hansen - This is a beautiful post, Kristi.June 3, 2016 – 10:09 amReplyCancel

  • Tamara - I’m not adopted, but I still don’t really understand my biological roots. I’m learning Cassidy’s even more so, because there’s a bit more clarity there, and we have two kids together. Fascinates the heck out of me.

    And oh! That poor cow without a heart.June 3, 2016 – 5:17 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I know yours are complicated too Tamara! Fascinates me too. And yeah, poor cow without a heart.June 3, 2016 – 10:02 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me - This is all so beautiful, Kristi. You express those internal dialogues so well, so beautifully. This is very special for me because my Husband is adopted and I often think so much about what that means, how it does or does not affect who he is today, what it means for Zilla’s life…lots of thoughts. So glad you wrote about this.
    The cow hear thing? Eew. Just eew.June 3, 2016 – 10:22 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Lisa <3 I don't think I knew that your husband was adopted but it sure comes with a lot. I don't feel comfortable even writing about so much of it but would be happy to talk to him/you anytime. And THANK YOU so so much for your sweet support. It means more to me than I know how to say.June 3, 2016 – 11:00 pmReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Lewis - I like your toes. And your goofy penchant for flip-flops (in spite of them being the most impractical footwear, like, EVER). And your Viking spirit, and that you might have licked the floor (I *did* lick things like walls, that I probably shouldn’t have, but wanted to know…), that you forgot about the desert, and that you felt the heritage in your schooldesk. I love that you share so much with your son, and that you’re leaning on the best of all your roots, and adding in so much that is *just you*, to make the best world possible for him to grow into <3June 3, 2016 – 11:53 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @TheGoldenSpoons - I think I’ve told you before that my hubs is adopted. It took on a whole new dimension for him when we had kids. Trying to explain genetics and that he doesn’t know his etc. I wonder sometimes about his biological mom and if she ever wonders about him.

    Every summer, we go to 3 or 4 different family reunions. Just yesterday, one of my girls was asking why we do that. I found myself stumbling over the explanation of family and why it’s so important even when they don’t really know half the people at these things. My answer should have been ROOTS – because roots run deep and family reunions are like giving the tree water and sunshine and love.June 4, 2016 – 11:12 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I do remember you telling me that before and I so get how much it changes after kids. I honestly didn’t have much desire to find out more before Tucker was born. I figured I had a family and a decent life with love and the essentials. But after Tucker was born, there was a doc appointment when they were asking about history and I got obsessed with finding my bio mom.
      Aw poor girls – family reunions can be boring when you don’t know anybody but I love your words about them being like giving the tree water and sunshine and love. I bet they’d have more fun at them if you told them some funny stories about people there 🙂June 4, 2016 – 2:00 pmReplyCancel

  • yvonne - You already know I think this is an amazing post, and that your speed at writing it is amazing too.

    What you say about adoption is fascinating. that you feel as if you have dual roots. You seem to have such a strong connection with your dad, which is lovely to see. And of course, you are right that what’s here now is what matters and of creating new roots for your son.

    I wonder if anyone actually has roots they can trace all the way back? Thought I don’t know of any adoptions in our family, my grandfather’s mother wasn’t married and his father disappeared. The whole thing was shrouded in secrecy and we have no idea who our ancestors or relatives were on his father’s side. My grandfather was brought up as if he was a younger brother to his mother’s siblings – she was sent away to work as a maid.

    I love that you have Vikings in your past – I do too!June 5, 2016 – 5:58 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I so love your post, Yvonne. I just shared it on FN facebook’s page (which I don’t do often as you know). I think some families can get part of the roots maybe. My dad’s mother and my cousin (not bio) took the QE2 to trace back years ago and actually found an impressive amount of history for a long line back. The missing part though is that there are no roots or branches. It’s like following one line and what is one line in a family anyway? That’s like tracing me back with my adoptive family and saying “oh her relative was so and so” or same with bio family. Sadly, I think the women’s history is frequently left off, and the deaths and the giving the baby to an uncle was less documented even in the 60’s than today. Imagine 300 years ago… well, you can, I know, because you wrote it perfectly…June 5, 2016 – 10:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Christine Carter - Fascinating read, my friend. So so thought provoking… I once again just dove into your world and got lost in it and found too.

    When and how did you finally meet your biological mom and the rest of your biological family? I don’t remember ever reading about it, but maybe this is my own forgetfulness. #Dementia lol

    I’m so very interested in your story, love. There is SO much there. Much like anybody’s story really.June 7, 2016 – 4:42 pmReplyCancel

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