Loyalty Forms A Family

March 14, 2017, was when my life changed once again.

How?

I found out I was adopted.

For 23 years, I grew up not knowing it.

When a baby is put up for an adoption, and they are chosen, and that makes them special. Not many babies that come from government hospitals are given that opportunity. Some newborns are left behind, sold for a profit, or even kidnapped.

I was a lucky baby. But, adoption does not always guarantee a better life. My adoptive parents were very careful about what information they shared with me. Because of that, I believe it was never a part of their plan to actually tell me that I was adopted.

I always felt like an outsider growing up because I looked, acted, and thought differently from everyone. Now I know why.

I struggled to live in my adoptive parents household because I was so different.

My skin color was darker compared to everyone else’s, even my adoptive father, which I thought was odd. I did not look like anyone in the family. I would always ask people, “Who do I look like: my mom or dad?” because I never saw a resemblance.

I did not consider myself a girly girl like my adoptive mother, cousins, and aunts. I enjoyed wearing sneakers and boy’s t-shirts way more than flats and blouses. The way I saw the world was the complete opposite of what they saw.

I was more open to change, while they saw the traditional rules as more ideal. I was not allowed to be myself. So, they did whatever they could to create a new person out of me, but nothing worked.

I never asked why I looked different because I knew it was a question that could have potentially turned into a fight. No matter how much whitening soap or toner I applied on my skin, my morena complexion always came back when I stepped out into the sun.

As much as they bought me skirts, dresses, tank tops, and sandals, I always ended up looking like a basketball player or someone just chillin’ on their day off.

No matter how many times I wrote letters to my adoptive mother saying how I wanted things to change between us, she always ended up sticking to the ways she was raised. Because of my differences, I heard a lot of, “You would look prettier if you were whiter,” and, “You should dress more girly like so and so,” and, “You’re wrong!”

Adoption never crossed my mind, but there were times where I did have an inkling that I did not belong. I remember being bullied a lot by my adoptive brothers and cousins. They enjoyed making fun of me and hurting my feelings. They found satisfaction in embarrassing me and what is weird is that no adult was there to tell them to stop.

But, the adults were no better.

I was an easy target for abuse–sexually, emotionally, physically, and mentally. I lost my innocence at the age of 5 and continued to endure this abuse until I was 10, by few members of the family.

I kept most of my feelings bottled up because emotions were never talked about. My head was slammed against walls and my hair was pulled countless times to the point where I did not want long hair anymore. I started self-harming at the age of 15 and contemplated taking my own life which led me to a psychiatric ward. I just couldn’t understand why they treated me so horribly. I thought something was wrong with me. I felt like everything was my fault. No matter how many times I tried to gain their love and support by changing myself, it was never good enough.

I know that I was not an easy kid to raise. I know that I did some wrongdoings as well, but I did not deserve that treatment.

No child deserves to be abused.

The Philippines is a strict, conservative, Catholic country, where sex education is not taught in school and contraception is not encouraged. Abstinence is what the Philippines preaches. Even just sleeping next to the opposite sex is seen as sex to most Filipino parents.

Asia also has a big sex-trafficking market due to the fetishizing of Asian women from tourists. The Red Light District of the Philippines in Angeles City consists of strippers, prostitutes, sex-slaves, etc. Because poverty is so high in the Philippines, so many women are forced to become sex-workers just so they can have money and because they lack the proper sex education.

Jose Fabellas is the government hospital I was born in. It is a tertiary hospital in Santa Cruz,

Manila, the Philippines where women who have little to no money give birth. Women who can’t afford to take care of their baby or accidentally get pregnant due to their business deals go here to either leave their baby behind, put their baby up for adoption, or sell their baby for a profit.

Some babies even get kidnapped without the mother knowing.

I am not sure exactly how my adoption played out, but I do know money was involved. My birth mother was probably just a curious young woman who wanted some experience. Or she was either a sex-worker and doing what she could to put food on the table.

She just accidentally slipped up.

So, she had the choice of either terminating the pregnancy or giving me to a family that would be able to take care of me. No mother wants to give their baby up, regardless of the situation. I may never know or meet her, but I do know she is strong. I come from a place of strength because she knew she was doing what was best for me. She wanted me to have a better life, so it is not her fault. She was just doing what she thought was right.

I understand that I was chosen. My adoptive parents saved me from a life of potential sex-trafficking and/or poverty. They nourished me with delicious Filipino food. Clothed me with clothes from Aeropostale and Cotton On–my favorite clothing stores. They let me have my own room a few times, which I thought was great. They rented apartments and houses that were really nice in good neighborhoods.

On the outside, it looked liked I was being taken care of and appreciated. But little did people know, the home was MY PERSONAL HELL. My adoptive parents made me feel horrible about myself for years. I was never able to talk about my feelings because they would always invalidate them. They were not supportive of anything I took interest in, especially writing.

They kept me from experiencing the world just to be trained as a Filipina housewife. They did not allow me to be myself because myself was too different. They have put their hands on me in ways I can’t even fathom.

In their mind, as long as they were feeding, clothing, and providing for me, they were being good parents. Anything that was emotionally or mentally related, was swept under the rug. I don’t think they realize how much damage they actually did.

I truly do believe that they loved me, but they didn’t respect me. Honestly, I’d rather be respected first over being loved. Blood or not, regardless of age, everyone deserves respect. PERIOD.

I understand that blood automatically makes you related. But, it is loyalty that makes you family.

Adoption seems like a beautiful thing and it can be. But, it is only a beautiful thing if the parents treat that child as their own. There are many adoptees who have had hard lives because they were adopted into such families. They are treated differently and because of this, and they feel like they don’t belong even more. I am grateful that they chose me. They saved me. But they also killed me in ways that make healing seem impossible.

Because of the mistreatment I got from my adoptive family and not knowing the truth for years, I can’t help but feel disrespected and betrayed.

I have so many questions, especially towards my adoptive parents who lied to me for 23 years.

Why didn’t my adoptive parents tell me? Why did everyone else know except me? Why didn’t they respect me enough to tell me the truth? Who helped them out? Why did they really adopt me?

I know it wasn’t because they wanted a daughter, but something else. What was their motive? I am probably never going to know and that angers me because I deserve to know.

In regards to my birth mother, my questions are not as forward and direct. Who is she? What is her name? Do I look like her? What is she like? Is my love for writing passed on from her or my birth father? Does she like to sing like I do? Does she think of me when December 20th comes around? Is she looking for me..?

Again, I am probably never going to know and that saddens me because all I ever wanted was my mother–my REAL mother. I have always wanted to experience a mother’s love and affection. That is why I am so envious of people who have that kind of relationship. They don’t have to experience this empty and lost feeling.

Maybe one day, I will find her. I would like to think our reunion will be filled with tears of joy, relief, and love. I will look at her and know that she is my mother. But if that day never comes or if it turns out the complete opposite, regardless, I will continue to stay strong for me.

I have been through a lot and all I ever really had was myself. I know I am capable of healing and recovering because I have already lost so much and I’m still here. My adoptive family has made me strong as hell despite their abuse and they know that. They have made me into this fearless warrior who just wants to save the world and I thank them for that. If they just treated me like a real daughter, this wouldn’t be an issue for me... But since that wasn’t the case, I will always want my birth mother.

Some of you may think that I should be grateful for my adoptive parents, but you weren’t there. You won’t understand unless you have been through it yourself. I pray that one day, this empty and lost feeling will go away and that I will meet her one day. But for now, I am just going to continue to write, love the people that love me right now, and to stay strong for the people who need hope–especially for adoptees like myself.