I am so grateful for the love I have in my life despite the traumas I have gone through, beginning with the loss of my original family. I’ve only recently began using this word and I will tell you a bit more about that in this post.

A few years ago, my adoptive mom and I met for coffee while she was visiting. She nonchalantly showed me pictures of my toddler aged self with bio family members of whom I’d never seen before. She insisted that I had seen these photos and I argued, “No. I had no idea they existed. I would have remembered! I would have asked to keep them. This is what I needed.” She said they’d been in a box “forever” as if my parents knew exactly where they were the entire time I lived in their home, under their care. Proof of love and connection, pieces of resemblance collecting dust while I pushed to survive in a community that was not made for me. I had to fight the confirmed fear that my original family didn’t want me, that I was disposable- while simultaneously forcing myself to have faith in the idea that I was lovable and worth life despite the constant contradiction and interrogation of my existence.

These photos showed joy.

I looked healthy.

I was loved.

They looked like me!

I was connected.

These pictures made me feel like I must have been taken from these people. They loved me. How could they have given me up knowingly and willingly- the way my adoptive parents told me.

While all of these emotions were flooding my heart and my head, I fumbled for words hoping something that made sense would come out, “How could you keep this from me? Why?” She quickly defended herself and blurted out that I was a happy kid, that I never really asked about my family, and that I seemed okay. She said I didn’t care about that stuff. I remember looking at her confused and angry, my body was burning up with emotion. Seeing my reaction and my loss for words she began firing off words strung together, ranging from excuses to justification to, “How about some gratitude!?” Y’all, that was it. I was D O N E. FINISHED. That was the trigger. In that moment I hated her and I let myself hate her.

For the first time ever, I realized that I was no longer stuck. I didn’t have to stay. I was able to leave whenever I wanted to. Her comfort and her goodness was no longer my obligation. So after a pause that felt like a lifetime, I said, “I don’t have to be here anymore. I’m leaving” and I left. It took more of me than I’d like to admit to get up and take the physical steps out the door. It was like I had shackles, weighing on my ankles. But I did it. I left; shaking, overheated, and with her following and yelling after me. My entire life I’ve been making everyone else comfortable, trying so hard to not take up too much or be too much. But I’m done. For far too long, I’ve lived for other people as if I’m indebted to a world I never chose to be a part of.

For me, gratitude, has always been a word weaponized by predators in sheep’s clothing. “You must be so grateful to be adopted, so grateful to have such a giving family, so grateful to have been saved, rescued, etc. .”

But I never made those choices. They were taken from me and made without my consent. I wasn’t allowed the information. I don’t even know if my family had all of the information! I wasn’t part of the decision. I was taken and sold, bought and put on display for the sake of someone else’s goodness, someone else’s comfort.

Most days I still cringe when I hear the word, but I’m taking it back because it’s not about anyone who uses this word to excuse trauma and make themselves more comfortable with something they don’t even care to understand. ✌🏾

Today, I feel adopted.

There are some days that I feel particularly adopted. Not adopted from the view of an adoptive parent, like “I am loved and wanted and somebody picked me and everything’s gonna be okay and my life is a gift…” But more in the way of feeling rejected and incomplete and not good enough and a mistake and abandoned and unwanted and all of those negative feelings that I can almost guarantee every adoptee has felt at least once in their life.

Growing up, I always felt like a burden. I’ve always felt like I had to “hold my own”, so to speak. I had to be strong enough and big enough and brave enough and good enough and I’m really sick of feeling that way. I know that I’m loved by a lot of people in this world but my reality is that the two people in my life that were biologically most like me and who knew me before I was born, could not take care of me and raise me in their home or family. Carrying this burden gets to be too much. I don’t have to be solely responsible in taking care of and loving myself, but I do have to teach my friends and family how to take care of me. And that too, gets very exhausting.

Most days, I can say that my bio parents could not raise me and I believe that, but today it feels like they didn’t want to. As an adoptee, it doesn’t matter how many people love me or how much love they give. When you have been rejected or abandoned or for whatever reason were not able to grow up in the home you were born to, it affects every part of your life. In fact, just existing can become exhausting. I feel like to exist is to defy everything I am because who I am is unknown. Who I am is incomplete and who I am does not fit. I was not born to be raised in the family that I was raised in. I was not raised in the culture I was meant to be raised in or even the country. I was born in a country and culture of a family that could not have me for whatever reason and because of that, I would say that I am kind of lost and I’ll never be completely found again. That might sound dramatic to some, but it’s true. When you’re an adopted person, you have to create your own. You will forever be at a loss and some days that loss hits harder than others.

I have this temptation to say that this isn’t all, that this burden gets easier to bear or this weight gets transformed into art and beauty when dot, dot, dot. But it doesn’t. Its hard, and it’s always hard because even when you meet your bio family, if you choose to do so or have that option, it will never be the same as growing up in their home. Maybe it’s better, maybe it’s worse, or maybe its something else all together, which is what I’d like to believe. Whatever it is, it’s complicated and it’s not easy.

Adoptees, you are allowed to have a bad day or an off day. You are allowed to feel crappy and need a break from teaching the people around you how to love you. You are allowed to be human and you’re allowed to just focus on being, because some days you have to try harder other than others. Give yourself grace, patience, and give yourself a little extra love on those days. I’m not sure who said this first or best but it’s true… “Loving yourself is not selfish, it’s self preservation.”

Good luck out there.

PS: If you are having a particularly adopted day(s) and its just feeling too heavy to carry alone, look for an adoptee support group near you, get in touch with an adoption competent therapist, reach out to adoption resources, or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

* Or if all of that seems like a little too much feel free to email me at