I love Oregon. It’s everything I consider pretty, even the bucketfuls of rain and gloomy, overcast grey skies. Two years ago my husband and I took a trip to Oregon. It was the first time I had been back in 25 years.

My husband had never been there and after years of me describing it as the only place close to heaven on earth he decided to join me on my trip back to my Motherland. We visited all the places I remembered from my childhood and some I had forgotten. We had a great time and wondered why we hadn’t taken trips like this before. (I’ll tell ya why- money. But I digress.)

One of the things had forgotten about was the door. The door is covered in names. The handwritten, scrawled on in ink, crayon, pen and pencil names of kids who lived there and signed their names to the guestbook. The door is the official record of kids, most of whom I have never met and never will meet. Some are probably dead or wish they were. Very few, I’m sure, are like me.

The door is located in the kitchen and leads down steps to the basement, where the washer and dryer and shelves for holding piles of clean, folded clothes are located. In the years I lived there, my bedroom never had a dresser and I didn’t use the closet for clothes. Everyday I opened this door and went to the basement to retrieve clean clothes from the shelf marked with my name. All of us seven kids got our clothes from the basement.

I opened and closed this door at least once a day, every day for seven years. And then one day I was gone.

One bad adoption with lots of continued suffering and pain, twenty-five years later, I revisit my old foster home and reacquaint myself with the woman who raised me until my brother and I were adopted.

She is old now, and doesn’t move very well. Her grown son, who was close to my age and inflicted his own share of pain on me, showed me the door. He pointed out where my name is printed out in first grade block letters. I don’t remember signing my name, but I recognized my handwriting.

I introduced my husband and showed pictures of our family to my old foster mother. She wasn’t interested. She had moved on. That is the nature of the foster business. Kids come and kids go. The only record of any of us passing through was our signatures on the door.

I am grateful for the door because it is concrete proof I existed when no one legally claimed me.

Obviously, I am one of the lucky ones. I made it through the door and came out the other side, healthy and with joy in my life. I don’t recommend starting life out with your name on a door, but I do recommend life. Life is good. Enjoy it and be grateful for it.