November is Adoption Awareness Month. As an Adoptee and Birth Mother, I have a lot to say on the subject. This is however a subject that only Adoptees can truly understand. It doesn’t matter if you are an adoptive parent, birth parent, know an adoptee, read an adoption book, or anything else, unless you are an adoptee, you will never really understand. And every adoptees journey is so different.
Being an adoptee is complicated. We are constantly told that we should be grateful, feel lucky, and be happy that we were “saved” or “chosen”. And here’s the thing, we can feel grateful, we can feel lucky, we can be happy with the life we did get, we can love our life, we can love our family, and at the same time we can still feel angry, hurt, sad, abandoned, long for a biological connection, we can mourn for a life we never had, mourn for the loss of all that could have been or maybe even should have been. And we can experience all of these emotions at once, and not have it take away from feeling grateful, or happy, or hurt, or abandoned. It is so hard to put into words that will ever truly explain what it is like to be an adoptee. To live with such drastically different feelings conflicting with each other all the time.
I’ve lived my life with people telling me how I should feel. Telling me my feelings are wrong if they have ever been anything other than grateful. I’ve had people be mad at my existence.
I’ve been called selfish and ungrateful, rude and mean, for wanting to find my birth family.
I’ve even been called selfish for wanting to then spend time with the people I found after spending my entire life apart from them.
I’ve been told I was never wanted and that they never wanted to ‘waste’ a name on me when I was born.
I’ve been called a home wrecker, intruder, and worse, because I found my birth family.
I’ve had people separate me from “real” family, and put in a little corner off on my own.
I’ve even been told I am too old. When I found who I believed was my birth father, thats what he said to me. This man believed I was his daughter right from the start and even tried to find me when I was 2 years old so he could fight for custody of me. But then when I was almost 28 years old, I found him. And he didn’t want anything to do with me. One of the many reasons he gave me, my age. He said I was too old now. He said I took to long, and I was too old now, and none of it mattered, and I was too old to celebrate anything, too old to care, too old to start building a relationship. He was so angry at me that I took too long to find him. He had other choice words too say to me over the years, but anyway, that was the first time someone complained about my age, used my age against me, told me i’m “too old” for something, but it wouldn’t be the last time. Throughout my journey other people have told me the same thing and used my age against me for various reason.
I’ve mourned the death of a man I believed was my birth father, just to find out years later he wasn’t.
I could go on and on about the things said to me. The way people treat me as an after thought, as an option, mad at my existence, and more.
But here’s what Adoption gave me, besides trauma, abandonment issues, heartbreak and more, it gave me a beautiful family that has loved me so fiercely. It gave me two parents, that at 36 years old I can honestly say they have always been there for me, never missed a holiday, from Valentines Day to Christmas, never missed a birthday, never missed a school event, been there for every milestone in my life, the birth of each of my children, they were there and visiting the hospital every single day I was in there. They have been there for each of my Mother Days, especially my first after my oldest son was born, which I couldn’t have gotten through without them. They even celebrate my wedding anniversary. Always there for me. And in turn they have always been there for my kids. Every birthday, every holiday, every school performance, every event at school, they were there. I’ve lost count of the amount of cakes my mom has baked with my daughter every time she says its a dolls birthday, or a stuffed animals birthday, it doesn’t matter, my mom is there to celebrate with her and make it special. Family trips all together. When my kids were/are sick, my parents were/are the first people I called, and my Dad would sit up with me during the night and the kids while they had croup, or an ear infection or whatever, my parents were there. Because of the parents I got, I was able to live in Kenya. The people I met there, amazing friends that have become family. Not to mention I met my oldest sons birth father there. Without living there, I never would have met him and had my son. And I can’t imagine a life without him. And my husband, who I met through a cousin on my Moms side. And now I have 3 more beautiful children, and an amazing man in my life. And I wouldn’t have had them, met all the people I have, lived in all the places I have, done all the traveling I did, if life hadn’t put me down another path, if someone else didn’t make one of the biggest decisions in life for me, a choice I didn’t make or was given a say in. And I am so incredibly grateful the life I have had so far, the people I have met, my family, my friends, my husband and my four kids. There is no way I could wish that away. But having said all that, I still mourn for what never was. I still feel sadness over missing out on years with so many other people. Its a complicated thing. It doesn’t make sense. And it is so hard to mourn for something that you never even had. But all while feeling grateful and loving the life you did have. So I dont know what else to say in this ramble. Other than its Adoption Awareness Month, and being an adoptee is complicated, amazing, beautiful, trauma filled, beautiful, and every other mixed emotions.When an adoptee tries to explain their story, share their complicated conflicting emotions, dont try to correct them, dont tell them how they should feel. Let adoptees feel what they feel, and not be shamed for it. Listen to what adoptees have to say, even if you dont understand it.