November was month National Adoption month. I came across this information late in the month, but I felt it was necessary to write about and it gave me a chance to share part of my story.
Sitting back, I can describe the three stages of my experience as an adoptee. From a youthful pride and exuberance to a heart-aching wonder and finally coming to grips with it.
My parents never lied to me. I knew I was adopted from the day I could understand the concept. I felt pride in articulating that I was “special” and that I had been “chosen.” It’s something I did on a fairly regular basis, before understanding that there was a slight ‘stigma’ with being adopted.
That stigma came from kids in elementary school. Most of them didn’t live in an economic bracket to understand formal adoption, they were familiar with the hood kind. So, a lot of my pride went out the door when Ray Ray and Sheniqua would tease me about not know who my parents were. Of course, now, it seems ridiculous. A good number of those kids didn’t have knowledge of their biological history, but didn’t have a problem making me feel like something was wrong with me -like I had been discarded, instead of saved.
So I became the type that chose the wooden spoon instead of the silver spoon I had been given. It’s a shame how much time I wasted wanting lesser things. For example, do you know a kid that WANTS free lunch? Well I did. It was a status thing. The kids I knew, some of my closest “friends,” had free lunch at the elementary school I attended. Being able to pay for lunch made me stand out amongst my peers, as if being the Principal’s daughter wasn’t enough.
I escaped this early childhood ridicule when I changed schools and I kept knowledge of my adoption to myself.
Just because I stopped talking about it didn’t mean I wasn’t thinking about it. For quite some time, I was curious about my biological background. Of the little information that I had, I figured that my biological mother had gotten pregnant in college and had good enough sense to give the baby up to a family that wanted to give love and provide a home that ‘they’ could not.
It wasn’t until I was nearly 25 that I confirmed these facts and learned a few more. I added that to the knowledge that I had been born in a home to a midwife, rather than at a hospital, which would make my search a little more difficult. I also learned that one of my parents studied English (interestingly, my best subject in school) and the other studied law (coincidentally, my career interest area). Makes you think about how strong your genetic bonds are, huh?
I bonded with a few friends after discovering that we shared adoption as a common denominator. Each one of us deals with it in different ways. Some of us have better relationships with our adoptive parents than others. Some of us have actually met our biological parents.
It goes without saying, I want to sit down and ask my biological mother, “Why did you give me up?” and countless other questions. I want to know what her life was like before and after giving birth to me. I’m sure she’s thought of me, just as I’ve imagined and wondered about her. Did she and my biological father stay together. What is her family like now? Does she have children? Do they know about me?
All of these questions have so many consequences.
I have thought about how pursuing knowledge of my biological parents would affect my adoptive parents. I am sensitive to this. Ultimately, I believe my desire and right to know supersede their feelings. But I have not searched for my biological parents out of a certain respect. My adoptive parents have given me more than I could have ever imagined and I have had a blessed upbringing.
What is family anyway? People that love you and raise you and give you the best of them. It’s funny, just over the Thanksgiving holiday, an aunt of mine commented that I’m beginning to sound like my Mother on the phone. For years, I’ve been told that I look like my Mother; that’s a tremendous complement to me.
There is still a good deal of wonder on my part, and I’m sure I won’t truly be content until I have my personal questions answered. So wonder still remains. But as of today, I’m content with the life I’ve built. And I’m driven to build an even better one, no matter the question of who my biological parents are. I’m thankful for the life I’ve been gifted and that I was chosen by people that had the means and desire to share love with a child that didn’t share their blood.
My story, just a bit of it. I’m sure there will be more to come.
Thanks Mom and Dad.