Adopted at birth, Andrea Ross grew up inhabiting two ecosystems: one was her tangible, adoptive family, the other her birth family, whose mysterious landscape was hidden from her. In this coming-of-age memoir, Ross narrates how in her early twenties, while working as a ranger in Grand Canyon National Park, she embarked on a journey to discover where she came from and, ultimately, who she was. After many missteps and dead ends, Ross uncovered her heartbreaking and inspiring origin story and began navigating the complicated turns of reuniting with her birth parents and their new families. Through backcountry travel in the American West, she also came to understand her place in the world, realizing that her true identity lay not in a choice between adopted or biological parents, but in an expansion of the concept of family.
Andrea Ross was once a park service ranger and wilderness guide and now teaches writing at University of California, Davis. Her work can be found in Ploughshares, Terrain, the Café Review, and on the Dirtbag Diaries Podcast. She lives in Davis, California with her husband and son.