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There are times in everyone's life when they find a character from a movie or a TV show that they connect with on a very deep and emotional level. When I first saw Once Upon a Time, from the very first episode, I saw that in Emma Swan.
Emma was a girl that lived her whole life imagining that she was alone in the world, and that her parents didn't love her. She was in foster care her entire life until she was released from the system. Her mother turned out to be Snow White, of course, but that was neither here nor there.
In the very first episode, it is established that both she and her son Henry feel alone in the world and, like others, don't understand them, that they are just looking for answers in the messed up world. Mary Margaret/Snow put it best when she said "He wrestles with that most basic question they all inevitably face. 'Why would anyone give me away?'"
Throughout my life I was given many reasons to believe that my biological mother didn't want me or care about my well-being, that the only thing she did right by me was to give me up for adoption. Like Emma, who was told she was abandoned on the side of the road, I believed that my mother wanted nothing to do with me, and I had resigned myself to never knowing who my parents were.
It is a difficult thing for someone to face, and at a young age I learned quickly that I was different. I remember the different foster parents, which included the people who would eventually become my real parents, and how alone I felt. Though I was lucky and adopted fairly quickly at 4, I was kind of a demon child, always holding it over my parents' head that I knew they weren't my real parents. I know I made my mother cry at least a few times. I would go to bed hoping that my parents would one day find me and take me away, even though I know now that my adopted parents were good people and only did what they thought was best for me. I always felt out of place with my family and with the people around me, having trust and abandonment issues.
When I was 18 my biological mother found me and added me on Facebook. I was terrified to even talk to her, and when I realized who it was, I talked to my parents extensively about how to handle it. I ended up agreeing to talk to her, and in the end we have ended up being friends. One of the things I can't do, like Emma couldn't, was call her mom. She didn't raise me, my adopted mother was my mother, who had put up with my stubborn behind for most of my life. But Jessica became someone that I could talk to, and someone that actually is a lot like me. When we talk about some things she does say that "you are your mothers daughter"
Watching the transitions and things play out on Once Upon a Time was, at times, like watching myself; the dysfunctional relationships, the distrust of people in general, and watching the relationship between Emma and her mother grow. It made me feel like I wasn't alone, and I had never seen any story play out that was so much like my own.
Being adopted... Being an orphan... It's something that sticks with you for life. Sure you have your Annie's and your Oliver Twist stories, or even Anne of Green Gables, but this played out as though it were my own story. Sure, maybe most people wouldn't relate to most of the aspects of it, but from both a Henry and Emma perspective I completely understood it. I had lived it, even the scary factor of meeting your biological parent as an adult. It's an eery thing to see, but in some ways it has made me feel better about myself, and that maybe I wasn't the only one that had lived this.
Emma may be the people's favorite because she is a savior, or because she kicks butt or just because she is a pretty awesome princess, but I appreciate Emma for the fact that, in some ways, she is the mirror image of my life. I'm not saying I'm Emma Swan, but I can understand her journey more than others, especially on an emotional level.
And I can't thank Adam and Eddy enough for giving me a character like me. I may not live a fairytale, but I finally am like a "Disney" princess.