After my adoptive parents divorced when I was one year old, my adoptive father moved over an hour away, to remarry and start a new family.
As a result, I spent my childhood going back and forth between two home. I would go to my adoptive fathers’ every other week or so in addition to holidays and summer vacation.
In his home, I was sexually abused by my oldest stepbrother. This left me tainted as a child. All of those feelings have now carried over into my adult life, and have only contributed to increasing my pain and issues initially brought about by my adoption experience.
But, my primary residence was with my adoptive mother, whom I was never able to properly bond with.
She had severe mental issues, which were left untreated and were only exacerbated by her inability to conceive as well as from her divorce. So she adopted to fill that void but was never capable of being a true mother to anyone.
As I grew up, I realized this. She wasn’t taking care of me but rather, I was her caretaker in every way. Knowing I had been adopted but ultimately having to take care of my adopter made for an extraordinarily difficult childhood experience. The reality of the situation was not as it should have been, and I know that now.
Looking back, the best childhood memories I have are being outside in nature, away from everyone. This was the only place I found peace and safety. This is still true today.
A result of my difficult upbringing was getting into drugs and alcohol. I discovered a new found freedom through substances and spending time in the streets.
I become defiant. I acted out in every way possible.
Despite the fact that I have seen therapists throughout my life, I was never able to process my pain. They never talked about adoption and thus were never able to make the important connections.
I ended up continuing to use drugs and alcohol to escape that pain for the following 27 years of my life. To escape the trauma of my adoption.
And yes: Adoption is trauma!
To quote the Reverend Keith C. Griffith, MBE, “Adoption loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful.”
Deciding to defy the closed adoption industry, I spent my life searching, hoping, dreaming, and wondering whether I could and would find my birth parents.
I did. My dream came true.
However, my heart broke yet again. Once I found my birth parents, they rejected me and I was alone again, struggling with the reality of being rejected by my own parents.
I am thankful I was at least able to meet them both one time, but not once did I think they would choose to reject a relationship with me outright.
I received no explanation, no letter, no goodbye from either of them. This pain has been inconceivable to process, and I don’t believe non-adoptees can fathom how much this hurts.
I've overcome many challenges in my life as a result of being adopted.
The fact that most adoptions today are shaded with secrecy, lies, and half-truths makes it impossible for adoptees to heal.
And how can we heal if we don’t even know what it is exactly that we’re healing from?
How can we get better if we don’t know our truth
One of the biggest challenges I have had to overcome has been discontinuing my use of drugs and alcohol as a way to escape from the pain of my adoption journey.
But one of the best decisions I ever made was to enter a recovery program where I was able to identify the abandonment and rejection from my life experiences as root issues and address them as well as I could.
But I still felt broken.
August 13, 2012, I had my last drink of alcohol.
Little did I know how much feeling would come flooding in. This allowed me to truly face my pain. I had little choice though, as these feelings hit me dead in my tracks when I had been running away from them for so long.
The fog began to lift and the truth settled in.
For the last five years, I've been working on healing from these very deep wounds. I've accepted this will last a lifetime. And I'm learning how to process these feelings in a healthy way, which has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. Yet this has also been extremely beneficial for the betterment of my future.
Not only for me but for those I'm close to, especially my children.
Another challenge I have overcome from being adopted is having enough courage and strength to be able to share my voice regarding how it feels to be adopted. Most of my life I was silenced by the world because my story doesn't line up with the world’s view of adoption.
I was labeled as, "Ungrateful" or people would say, "She just had a bad adoption experience!”
I've learned that sugar coating my truth isn't going to help me or my fellow adoptees.
They are the reason I write and share my story.
I want them to know they aren't alone. We all deserve to be heard and our truth needs to be shared.
Although my story is heartbreaking, I consider myself one of the lucky adoptees because I was able to find and accept my truth.
So many adoptees might never get that chance. So regardless of what my story turned out to be, I am always grateful for my truth.
My favorite bible verse is John 8:32 - Then you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free!
All adoptees deserve our truth no matter how hard it may be.
When I had kids, I moved across the country from my family so that I could find myself and so my kids could have a better life than what I had growing up. I have very few actual relationships but I cherish them all.
I'm proud of being a parent to my three amazing kids even when I had no blueprint on how to do the job. I've done the best I could with what I have.
I've made many mistakes I will always regret, but my kids are my world and have given me a reason to stay alive, even when I didn't want to stay alive for myself.
Today, I've found a new zest for life and my safe space is still found running wild and free in nature. I'm extremely selective as to who I allow in my life and have found as I've gotten older that less is more.
I love my career in taking care of the elderly. I hike and chase waterfalls as much as possible. I love being a mom and staying active. I'm prompt with time and planning, and God speaks to me through colors. I love the simple things in life like bonfires, sunrises and sunsets and coffee time. I love my 2 dogs and 2 cats. I love to talk to people and take a genuine curiosity in understanding them and how they got to where they are today.
I still struggle with adoptee issues daily, sometimes hourly, but I'm in a much healthier place to process all the emotions that go along with this journey.
Please believe adoptees are strong.
I survived. I am alive. If you’re reading this then so are you!
There is no way that we have survived what we have and not come out stronger for it, even if we don’t feel strong.
With every turn we make in life, there is a constant reminder of what might have been, of what was lost.
It’s critical to identify our triggers and to be able to respond to them in healthy, productive ways. As soon as I accepted my pain, and that it’s here to stay, I was able to move forward and begin to heal.
I am happy I have come to a place where I can share my pain for God’s glory and happy that I can use it to share my story and help others write theirs.
It's not an easy journey but I have an amazing adoptee community who supports me unconditionally.
This year, I want to continue to write my memoir and I’ve started meditating. These have been great healing tools. I go to the gym and workout multiple times a week. I want to continue to strive to be the best me, in mind, body, and spirit.
And in ten years, hopefully, I’ll be married with many grand-kids! Maybe traveling the USA in an old-fashioned pop-up camper.
I recently began a new search to look for a long lost sister I never knew I had. Although it has nothing to do with her personally, I have had an extremely difficult time navigating the fact I have more missing pieces of myself out there that I never knew I had.
It makes me sad and mad all at the same time.
Searching is filled with so many emotions I didn't think I would have to feel again. I will never be complete until I find my sister.
Sharing my story is important because I want other adoptees to know they aren't alone and the way they feel is natural for an unnatural situation. We're creating our own support system and there are thousands of adoptees all over the world waiting to connect with YOU!
I'm constantly reminded of Jeremiah 6:14- "You can't heal a wound by saying it's not there!"