Lyric Esparza spent her first 17 years living in an abusive, drug-addicted family. When she was on the brink of adulthood, her high school principal and her husband—Toni and Juan Esparza—brought her into their family. In a Narratively piece titled "What it Feels Like To Be Adopted at 17," Lyric, now a college grad who lives in Seattle, recounts her experiences of transitioning from a dysfunctional environment into a loving, supportive one. Lyric recalls an episode from when she was 7 years old in which a trip to Chuck E. Cheese gets sidetracked. Instead of games and prizes, the day ends with both of her parents being hauled away by the police. "I chased the cop car carrying my mom," she writes. "The car was too fast to keep up with."
Some 10 years later, a high school counselor tasked Lyric with examining her life and family. "So I did," she writes. She began to see how dysfunctional her home life was. Why hadn't her parents intervened when she was molested? Why did they buy new TVs when food and clothes were lacking? She also began spending more time with the Esparzas. "Their oddly peaceful demeanor," she writes, "calmed me and fanned a little spark of hope in me that sang, 'One day, I’ll fly away.'” That day came after Lyric had a blowup with her mom when she was a high school senior. Her mom kicked her out and the Esparzas offered her a home, as their daughter. Five years later, in 2015, Lyric legally became an Esparza. "It took five years for me to realize that these people were serious about being my parents," she writes. "I had found my way home." Read the whole piece here. (Read more Seattle stories.)