"CBS Saturday Morning" co-host Michelle Miller is author of the new memoir "Belonging: A Daughter's Search for Identity Through Love and Loss," to be published March 14 by HarperCollins.
At the age of 24, I was surprised when my father urged me, "Go find your mother." Because as far as I knew, she'd given birth to me, handed me to Dad, and walked out of my life forever.
Daddy's side embraced me with love. My mother's side, to my knowledge, to this day, doesn't even know I exist.
I grew up with longing, and struggled to find a sense of belonging.
Two decades later, I would finally meet the mother who abandoned me. I would learn that her proud working-class Latino family had vehemently opposed her even dating a Black man. To them, what possible life could he ever offer her? Never mind that he was the chief of surgery at a prominent Los Angeles area hospital.
As a result, I am, to this very day, my mother's secret hidden in plain sight – a fact that's haunted me. I have spent my whole life searching for that sense of belonging. I now know it has been with me all along, and I embrace it.
Knowing that no matter where I am, like Los Angeles, the place of my birth; or New Orleans, where I met the love of my life, Marc Morial, and started a beautiful family; or right here at CBS News, that wherever I am, is where I belong.
It was here covering stories from Hurricane Katrina to the murder of George Floyd, that I found my space sharing the perspectives of many of you often left out of the story. I could speak your truths because you were visible to me.
Perhaps that semi-orphaned kid's need to be seen was at the heart of my need to tell your stories.
Identity is shaped as much by those who are absent in our lives as by those who stay beside us.
I've learned to prize the ones who stay, to give them my heart, and to never let them go. I deeply appreciate the life I have, not the one I might have wished for.
And to my mother, if you are watching right now, know this: just like this conflicted nation of ours grappling with a history some may refuse to acknowledge, even if you never proclaim me as your own, I will always be your daughter.
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Story produced by Young Kim. Editor: Mike Levine.