Thursday, July 10, 2008

What It Means to Be Adopted

I used to think it meant love - an amazing love shown to me both by my Natural Mom and by my a-parents. I used to think it meant chosen and special - a precious gift meant-to-be for a family longing desperately for a child to call their own. I used to think it meant happiness, joy, laughter, and fun - things I never would have felt were I not adopted. I used to think it meant honor and privilege - I received something those less fortunate than I never had the opportunity to experience - the love of a family who truly wanted me and who was more capable, thanks to maturity, marriage, and money, of caring for me than the adolescent who gave birth to me.

I used to think a lot of warm, fuzzy thoughts about being adopted. And sure, many people might still argue that those things listed above are still true. But as I've aged and as I entered the arena of adoption for the 2nd time in my life (this time by choice) I've learned that being adopted means SO much more than what I used to think.

Being adopted means...

Losing my family
Losing my history, both personal AND medical
Losing my identity with people who look like me, sound like me, SMELL like me, act like me
Losing the right to MY own documents, including a factual Birth Certificate naming the woman who gave birth to me as my mother
Burdening others with my own desire to know more and have more
Searching not only for answers about my life prior to my adoption, but also searching for who I am and who I might yet become
Guilt for wanting more and for not always feeling grateful to my a-parents for rescuing me from a life "on the streets"
Fear of hurting the people I love including my husband, my daughter, my a-Dad, my Natural Mom
Fear of the unknown and of what I might find should I ever choose to search
Looking at my daughter every day KNOWING that someday, if not already, she too will experience these same feelings of loss, depression, sadness, loneliness, pain, heartache, grief, shame, self-loathing, disappointment, guilt, and fear

No, adoption has not ruined my life. My life is a roller coaster. There are ups and there are downs, as with anyone's life, whether they were adopted or not. Some days I hurt more than others and experience more negatives than positives when viewing my life as an adoptee. Other days I carry on barely spending a moment's thought on adoption.

It's a double-edged sword, really. I once wrote that I have chosen to not let my adoption define who I am. I have now come to the conclusion that I am, in reality, the person that I am today because I was adopted. I LIVE adoption. I BREATHE adoption. I AM adoption. I see it, hear it, KNOW it every time I look in the mirror, every time I look at my daughter. I love who I am, what I have become. I thank adoption for that. I hate how I feel, what I think. I thank adoption for that, too.


Possum said...

Great, wonderful post.
And heartbreaking.
But that is SO what it's like to be adopted - such a mess of good and bad.
It hurts my heart when I see another adoptee come to the full realisation of what it all really means.
The coming out of the fog is a painful process - but thankyou for writing this - as it will help others to know that they are not alone.
Thinking of you - and sending you strength and loads of hugz.
Poss. xxxxx

jimm said...

So, so true.

Anonymous said...

I totally get it. Totally.
It is a roller coaster.

Even though I've been on this ride for a long time, our adoption is bringing up even more stuff for me.

aka Creepy Adoptee