I haven’t always known that November marked National Adoption month and why would I? for a good 34 years of my life it never really mattered, then one day it did.
I found out I was adopted 5 or 6 years ago and I am going to fast forward through the details of how but if you are really interested in knowing the back story I shared it in two parts here and here. Finding out something so significant as an adult can be life changing and it was and wasn’t for me. For starters I could finally stop forcing myself to look like people that I did not. My sister and I did this for years. If you didn’t read the back story both my sister and I were adopted by the same family and we have at the very least the same biological mom. My sister is very light skin and I am dark skin and my mom was dark and my dad light so in theory it kind of made sense that I looked like my mom and she my dad even though we didn’t really see it. I also spent my early twenties getting sonograms and tests because my mom had breast cancer. I think the most sobering reality is that my parents were these huge secret keepers or dare I say liars that kept my identity hidden from me and that forever changed everything. Although I am still pretty much the same person that I was before I found out.
My sister and I have dealt with our new reality in different ways. I will stick to sharing about me and my coping mechanisms. In order to grasp and deal with the knowledge of being adopted I reach out to other adoptees I meet, ask questions, watch Long Lost Family and I did my ancestryDNA test and as of this year I started sharing my story with people even though at times it seems unreal and a bit embarrassing. I am not sure if the embarrassment stems from not having been able to figure out that I was adopted or the reality that the person who gave birth to me gave me away.
“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage- to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness. ”
― Alex Haley
I think the most significant way this reality played out in my life was when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter 3 years ago. I was very unhappy, never intended or desired to be pregnant and was quite miserable. I am pro-choice but solely pro-life for Tina Shoulders so I knew I was having a baby. During that period I started to think about my bio mom and how she must of felt being pregnant. I can’t for the life of me imagine how it must feel for someone to carry a child for 9-10 months and then hand that child off, while I can’t fathom that, I respect and appreciate that she gave my life a chance.
On taking care of myself when searching for my mother and thinking about the fact that I was born Wade to some woman who’s eyes, smile or creativity I might share…
Most days I don’t even think about being adopted unless something happens to jolt me back to that reality andthat works for me. Occurrences like my son having a severe diagnosis that I couldn’t trace, someone referring to someone who has been adopted as having been unwanted or when someone jokes about never wanting to adopt because they don’t want to take care of someone else’s child is real.
I also did AncestryDna which is nerve racking because my genealogy game sucks so I am having a hard time building out connections but it feels good to be connected if only to 3rd or 4th cousins.
I allow myself to go hard when I feel compelled to do the research and search for Ms. Wade. I allow myself to be curious and miss someone that I have never met. When I do my next bout of searching I might join a support group as many have suggested. The emotional toll of searching for someone that may not want to be found or who may never be found is heavy. I don’t want to fall into some deep dark space because I choose to seek out my truth.
If you know someone who was adopted and does not know who their bio parents are and is curious or searching please be sensitive to their feelings. Here are a few things you shouldn’t say to an adoptee:
- Why does it even matter you had/have a good life
- You should be lucky you didn’t have to stay in foster care
- Are you searching for your “real parents” Umm sir or madam the parents that raised me are real and my parents.
- Don’t get all weepy and sympathetic, we may be confused or searching for bio family, but don’t pity my lack of a DNA connection
- Don’t assume that someone is depressed, has daddy issues, mommy issues or their inability to have long term relationships stems from them being adopted.
- Did your parents adopt you because they were unable to have “kids of their own”? is another no no
This is just a few and the list goes on for adoptees as well as for parents of adoptees. If you were adopted, are there any self care principles you practice when the reality of the adoption seeps into your psyche?
Featured Photo credit: Darin Kent