I want to be very careful to speak on my own experience and only that. With adoption, there are so many different views, ideas, and realities to so many different people involved, the adoption agency, the birth parents, the adoptive parents, biological siblings, adoptive siblings, etc. and I don’t want to speak for or on behalf of anyone but myself.
When I was a kid, I memorized the story that was told to me, without even thinking about it. I remember being like 6 years old and adults, “awwe”ing at my adoption “story”. Other kids would say, “Wait, are they your real parents?”, “Why are you a different color than your family?”, “Does that mean your real family didn’t want you?”, “Is that your real mom?” and so on. My parents’ friends and acquaintances would say, “Well, aren’t you so blessed to be here with such a loving family.” or “I bet you’re really grateful to be in America.” While I know that no one meant to be hurtful with those comments and questions, the truth is that every time I had to recite my story or respond to ignorant and hurtful questions, I pushed my pain deeper and deeper.
No one ever told me to make sure that everyone around me was comfortable and that they understood my story, it was just very clear to me that I was not to rock the boat. I was not to question my story and it felt like everyone around me was entitled to it. I was so sure that I was disposable. I was so sure that if I said something wrong or made it sound like I was ungrateful by asking questions I could be “returned” or abandoned, again. Every once in a while, I would go through a period where I felt my adoption more than the every day weight of it and very few times, I let people in. I figured out how to live through it. I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone, talk about it, or even grieve, because what if I offended my family! What if I made someone feel bad? For some reason, I thought that everyone else and their feelings about me and my “story” mattered more than me and my own experience.
It wasn’t until I was 20 years old that I started to realize that I had so much baggage to work through. I finally decided that I was worth more than the price tag I gave myself, and began to unwrap all of the layers of shame, guilt, fear, that I used to cover up my own truth.
This was the story I wish I could have told when I wanted to at 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, etc.
“At three years old, my parents were no longer able to parent me. I was a child and it was not my fault. I was placed for adoption and adopted by a family, who did their best to raise another family’s child. It was really difficult. I lived and dealt with a lot of pain, a lot of hurt, a lot of shame and a lot of fear. But I made it this far. I am well, and I am working toward healing and growth and finding who I am all over again.”
My adoption story is a lot more complicated than the feel good religiously framed missionary story glazed in “blessing”. It was hard, it was painful, and I am still affected by it today.
It took years for me to be able to talk about my adoption in more than just the bullet point answers that I recited as a child. Thats okay because it is MY journey and only mine, but if I felt like I could ask the questions that I had, the questions that plagued my heart every single day, I would like to believe that I might have been just a little more whole today because there is power in just knowing and owning your own story.