For two years of the early Aughts I thought I had an older sister. R. had been given up for adoption by her mother, one of the female addicts who ran in Wayne Martin’s pack in the Seventies. After a slew of state and federal legislation in the Nineties extended the rights of adoptees, R. sought the papers she hoped would determine her origins. She contacted her mother, the only parent listed on her birth certificate. This woman, now a deeply religious mother of four somewhere in Colorado, didn’t want any contact with R., and told her to seek out Wayne Martin, her father. When I came home for my ten-year high school reunion, Wayne Martin asked me if I would accompany him to dinner with R., to keep things from getting awkward. "She works on an organic farm," he confided. At dinner, R. mentioned casually that she considered all people bisexual. “The way I see it,” Wayne Martin replied jovially, “you either suck dick or you don’t.” Noticing the waiter’s seemingly boundless enthusiasm for our table and my new sister in particular, he asked what one does to get such good service. “Sleep with the waiter,” R. replied. Over the ensuing months he began wondering if R. was really his daughter, but never asked for a paternity test. Two years later, his wife did. When the answer came most of my family ceased contact with R., including all of my uncles who shared a roughly equal possibility of being her father. But I refused to let go of this person who is more like me than any of my paternal siblings, and we agreed that we are still brother and sister. I share a deep bond with this sister-not-my-sister: of an eternal hope, a fractured past, and an earned distrust of parental authority. Unlike me, she’ll never get the chance to speculate on her father’s true nature, because she’ll never know who her father is.
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