There wasn’t much that she knew for certain about her childhood. In place of fond memories and a story about her origins that let them know about her early life and who she really was, she just had an empty, blank, enigmatic void.
That was until her daughter came to her with a milk carton from decades ago. There was no mistake: that was here. But how could that be possible? What really happened in her childhood?
Amanda Atkinson had been living in Memphis, Tennessee, for as long as she could remember. That’s where she went to school, where she graduated from college, where she met her husband, and where she raised her daughter Katy.
However, she didn’t know for sure if she was born there. Amanda’s story wasn’t like everyone else’s, and this had frustrated her for a very long time.
Amanda knew she had been an adopted child since she turned eighteen. However, at the age of 57, she was yet to know her biological parents or the story of why they gave her in adoption.
She couldn’t complain about the Atkinsons, her foster parents: they were a wealthy couple who raised her lovingly and always ensured that she had everything she needed growing up. However, years ago, there had been a serious falling out between Amanda and them.
Right before Amanda moved out for college against her parents’ wishes, who tried to persuade her to stay at home until she finished her studies, they finally told her the truth: she was adopted.
This wasn’t shocking to Amanda, and it was, in fact, a source of relief. Now she finally knew why, despite how grateful she felt for the Atkinsons, she never really felt any sort of connection with them. It was almost like she already knew that they weren’t really her parents, even though no one had even told her before. But there was still one question in the air.
Right after the Atkisnons broke the news to her, Amanda asked about her biological parents and the circumstances of her adoption. But the couple’s answer was absolutely infuriating to her.
They just glanced at each other and told Amanda that they couldn’t tell her that. In fact, they didn’t think they could ever tell her the truth. Amanda felt outraged by this. Why couldn’t they tell her? Who did those people think they were to withhold from her the real story about her biological parents? After that episode, she took a drastic decision.
From then on, Amanda cut off contact with her adoptive parents. She ignored all their subsequent attempts to reach out until they finally gave up. When she heard they passed away years later, she didn’t even go to their funerals.
For some years after that, she devoted herself to finding out about her real origins. She went to all the local orphanages, but no one had her on their registers. She went to the library, but she found nothing there. Finally, she gave up. Shortly after, she met someone who would impact her life forever.
She met her ex-husband Eric, and she fell for him right away. In the beginning, Eric was prince charming: he was attentive and affectionate, and most importantly, he finally provided Amanda with a sense of belonging. She finally felt like, even though she didn’t know her parents, there was someone who felt like family.
But things changed shortly after they married and Amanda gave Birth to Katy. It was like night and day: suddenly, Eric became possessive, undermining, and even aggressive. Amanda felt her whole world crumble when she saw Eric’s true colors. But she didn’t think twice before making a decision.
She divorced Eric. She saw how he had manipulated her and used her weaknesses to trap her in their relationship. It hurt to let go of someone who once felt like home; but now, Amanda had Katy, who she loved with all her heart. That was her home now.
Mother and daughter shared the deepest bond with each other. Katy knew about Amanda’s history with her adoptive parents and the fact that she never knew her biological ones. So one day, she started a project on her own.
She committed herself to do everything in her hand to find out about her mom’s true origins. She tried everything her mother had tried before: she went to all the orphanages and inspected the libraries.
But still, she found nothing. But one day, when she was wandering around one of the local history museums, she came across something that gave some direction to her search.
In one of the expositions, there was a collection of old milk cartons with images of missing children printed on them. This was a common thing decades ago, and it fulfilled the function of helping find missing kids and raising public awareness about child abduction.
But in one of the milk cartons, she saw an image of her mother as a child! It had to be her. Amanda had shown her old picture albums from her childhood, and there was no doubt: that was her mother. She asked permission to take the carton home and showed it to her mother.
Amanda couldn’t believe her eyes. That was really her, but with the name of “Amanda Jenkins”! But the most surprising thing was that, next to hers, there was also a picture of a kid, the same age as her and with the same surname: Andy Jenkins.
Was that her brother? Instantly, Amanda looked up that name on Facebook and searched for people her age in her area. Finally, she found someone. She messaged him and waited for a response.
The man replied shortly after. Then, Amanda told her about what her daughter had found, and asked him if, by any chance, he knew whether he had been a missing child or had been adopted.
Andy Jenkins kept typing and typing while Amanda waited anxiously. Finally, he sent a message of several paragraphs. What Amanda read there filled her with emotion, and when she was done, she couldn’t hold her tears.
Andy Jenkins was his brother. He was the kid in the milk carton and had also been adopted. But unlike Amanda, he had managed to get the true story from his adoptive parents. Their father used to be a worker in Mr. Atkinson’s, Amanda’s adoptive father, company.
However, he was known as a problematic man. On the other hand, his wife was the very image of patience and resignation. She stayed with him, enduring all his disrespect just to keep the family together. It was a different era, and Amanda’s biological mother thought it was her duty to put up with everything for her children’s sake. But one day, something terrible happened.
Amanda’s mother disappeared in mysterious circumstances. Mr. Atkinson knew everything about the family and the father’s problematic ways, and he was worried about what the children’s luck would be in the hands of that aggressive man.
But there was nothing he could do; at least, legally. So he arranged for them to be taken away from their father and, with the collaboration of one of the local orphanages, he set up a fake adoption process. He and his wife took Amanda, setting Andy up with a different family he felt could care for the kid better than his violent father.
Andy’s adoptive parents had told him all the truth; however, Mr. Atkinson felt conflicted about what he had done, wondering if it was really right to separate the children from their biological father and take justice into his own hands.
To some degree, he and his wife felt ashamed and guilty about what they did, which is why they could never bring themselves to admit the truth to Amanda. After she read all this, wiping off her tears, Amanda sat back. She had a lot to think about.