Whenever I am asked to describe myself, “Adoptee” isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.
Only recently have I decided to accept this term. To be completely honest, I sometimes get an interesting feeling when hearing the word, “adopted”. I have a very strong love/hate relationship with this word.
According to multiple dictionaries, adopted is defined as, “having been adopted OR legally made the son or daughter of someone other than a biological parent.”
I am fortunate enough to say that I have never been introduced as someone else’s adopted daughter. I resent the fact that such statements automatically lump you into a category. I know that I am different and that may very well be due to the fact that I am adopted. But, I’m 37 years old and am still not able to express my feelings about being adopted.
It’s hard for me to differentiate what I actually feel, as opposed to what society has taught me to feel about being adopted.
I grew up in a household with two loving parents and siblings.
One of the siblings is also adopted.
I’ve personally never felt that either one of my parents ever treated us any differently.
I’ve never felt the need to measure my parents’ love for me in comparison to their biological child. Our adoption was never a secret among the rest of our extended family. Not one family member has ever gone out of their way to mention it.
My childhood wasn’t perfect. But, whose is?
Parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual. I’m learning that myself as a parent to a seven-year-old child.
Before my son was born, I was raising a stepchild with my ex-husband. For many years, I refused to acknowledge the idea of loving her any differently than any biological child I may have. However, things changed when I was nine months pregnant. I contracted H1N1 Flu Virus and fell critically ill. I was incubated and given an emergency C-section. Then, placed in a medically induced coma for the next two months. I first saw my son when he was two months old.
I never gave much thought to what my birth experience would have been, or how I would have felt if I first saw my son. But, when I woke up from my coma, I felt robbed.
This would be the trigger that eventually made me reevaluate all of my feelings toward my own birth experience. How ironic was it that I would have another two months of my life unaccounted for? I have no idea who took care of me during the first seven weeks of my life that I spent in foster care. Now, my own son would not have a mother for the first eight weeks of his life. When I first held him, I felt nothing. I certainly didn’t feel like I loved him any more than anyone else. That has since changed, but it has taken years of bonding with my child to arrive at this point.
During these past seven years, I’ve been grieving the sense of a deep loss. Time lost with my child, which developed into grieving time lost with a mother. It wasn’t until I experienced a catastrophic illness and forced to draw these parallels that I’ve ever felt any sense of sadness about my adoption.
I’m still not sure what it means. I have a mother and a father. I don’t want another mother and father. So why am I sad? Is it because there were two months of my life where nobody loved me? I’ve never been able to identify what this feeling of loss is.
I’ve been registered on reunion sites for adoptees and birth parents since the age of eighteen with zero success.
I recently was able to find my biological mother and contact her via mail and Facebook messenger.
In my letter, I didn’t ask for anything. I briefly told her about myself and reassured her that I had a very decent upbringing. I put no pressure on her for any type of relationship. I let her know that I wouldn’t mind being in contact if she was open to it.
But, she wasn’t.
This has been the ultimate rejection. I’ve always known she didn’t want to be a parent. I thought that one day she would want to be a friend, but that is not the case. My point in even mentioning this is that I only searched for her because I felt pressured to do so. I also felt that I owed it to my son to exhaust every effort in finding as much information as I could about our biological history. Nonetheless, people are curious and I’ve often felt they were more curious than I was about my own history.
Adoption means so many different things for many different people. It can be either a beautiful process or an ugly one. But, the fairytale narrative of it needs to change. It is my belief that it does a huge disservice to adoptees in that it attempts to negate important emotions and feelings that an adoptee is entitled to.
Reconciling my emotions has been an extremely important part of my adoption process that I’ve suppressed for far too long. My adoption story is a positive one. But, grief and pain have been apart of my journey, and that’s normal. I’ve often felt the adoption industry does more to protect the rights and feelings of birth parents and adoptive parents rather than the adoptees themselves. This is not okay. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that I should be grateful when expressing my feelings about adoption. These types of comments are not helpful and insensitive. We as adoptees need to raise awareness about adoptee rights and make this process better for others. In raising awareness, I hope to find peace in my own story.