I love my life and every single lesson that I’ve learned along the way. I’m grateful. Yet, as an international adoptee, I cannot say that I haven’t experienced moments when I’ve mourned the very fact that I’m adopted. Truth is, sometimes adoption hurts deep. No matter the life chapter an adoptee may be in, the hurt is real. It’s important to express that hurt, to let it out.
This can be difficult when so much about adoption is wrapped in joyful ribbons and bows. I understand this joy, as I honor the beauty of adoption each and every day. In so many ways, adoption has been a great blessing in my life. Yet, as an adoptee and adoptive parent I would be remiss if I dismissed the voices within my adoption community that express feelings of being left, abandoned, erased. I would be remiss if I dismissed the voice within myself, as well.
I’m also very honest when I tell you that, as an adoptee, I’ve hidden some of my own hurt along the way. I believe the hiding has caused additional pain. Dismissal of self results in dis-ease. By this, I mean a feeling of discomfort within. I’m writing to you in hopes that my story will assist you (or someone you love) in releasing what hurts in order to heal and move forward.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have not felt well. Low energy levels and on the color scale of emotions, I’ve landed on blue. It’s not like me. I’m a positive person, gratitude-centered and boundless with enthusiasm for those I love and for the work that I do. So, hitting this emotional and physical wall has been — in a word — frustrating. This experience is not my first rodeo, however. I have lived, for several years, with an autoimmune condition that impacts my thyroid: that tiny little butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the bottom of the neck, secreting hormones throughout the body that influence metabolism, growth and development, and body temperature. As will happen, from time to time, my thyroid levels are off. I’ll return to balance, but at the moment, I feel every bit of the imbalance.
I tell you this because I believe that there is correlation between the suppressing of story and the declining of physical health. After years of personal self-discovery, I believe that — in part— what triggered my autoimmunity was the chronic stress of holding hurt within me, of choking it off in my throat before it had the chance to be heard. If pain is not expressed, it will house itself somewhere. My pain made a home in my thyroid.
My intention was never to hide my pain, it was to stay safe. I had real fear, as a child, of being sent back, rejected, turned away. That fear grew with me, as I grew. I was unaware of just how much trauma I was holding inside. I was unaware of how desperately I needed to speak my pain in order to become whole.
It took time for this realization to set in. I’ve now been seven years along the journey: speaking my truth, unapologetically, so that my story might be of service to someone, or some family, along the way. Yes, I still deal with autoimmunity and, except for those times when my thyroid levels hit the “out of range” markers on lab work, I’m a healthy and hugely optimistic woman. I’ve learned the power of releasing what hurts; not in a way that is intended to harm, but in a way that allows me to live authentically rooted in truth. It’s a strong foundation to build a life of abundance on.
I don’t want any adoptee, no matter their age, to feel trapped — unable to express what is real and true for them. I don’t want any adoptee to feel at dis-ease within their own bodies. No longer should we be a silent minority. You see, adoptees know a great deal about loving beyond bloodline. We’re a resilient group of people. We’ve just been guided to stay quiet in our questions of what happened before our adoptions. It’s challenging to be understood or to understand oneself from this place of silence. More and more, we’re becoming aware of the power we possess and the openness required to thrive in our lives.
Did you know that adoptees often describe themselves as experiencing loneliness, feelings of guilt and unworthiness, the need to belong and to have answers to their questions? Did you know that adoptees often describe themselves as feeling forgotten, silenced? Did you know that many adoptees say they long for the ability to grieve out loud?
Giving our adoptee community the gift that allows them the opportunity to express, out loud, their deepest feelings and thoughts about their adoptions is essential as they walk this journey of adoption: no judgement, no fear; only love and support. What could be a greater offering than this kind of freedom?
This question can be posed to each of us, adopted or not. What if we all could be heard with empathy? What if we said to one another: your story matters and you are valued for who you are, as you are. The strength you have shown through adversity, whatever form that adversity has come in, will be the very strength that assists you in rising up. You’re stronger than you may know. But, I know. And, I’m here to remind you.
We’re growing bigger hearts in this adoption community. I’m so proud of the increasing willingness we display to show up authentic and vulnerable, to practice inclusion of all voices, and to demonstrate a love that knows no borders. I believe, with this way of showing up — honestly — for each other, we’ll begin to diminish and ultimately eliminate the physical, emotional, and mental scars of silencing the adoptee experience.
As for me, every word I speak out loud is one step closer to healing this body that once thought it might never be heard. My gratitude to my beautiful adoption family, both near and far, for loving me and accepting me through it all.