Adoption Is My Nationality

As a former foster child, as well as an international adoptee, I’m often asked about my nationality. In other words, people are curious as to where I originated, what my heritage is and to whom I once belonged.

Believe me, I have been — in my lifetime — ultra curious about these things, as well. In fact, the journey of discovery has taken me along paths to unknown destinations, and to unknown parts of myself.

The experience of seeking out adoption truth is like putting together a puzzle with vital pieces missing. Empty holes. Empty spaces. Those hollow places in the heart; caverns created by loss.

How much are we willing to sacrifice in an effort to put back the pieces of a shattered-self? What are we willing to risk? How can we revive the dormant parts of who we once were, as adoptees, prior to being removed from our first lives?

As for me, I’ve risked everything. I have put it all on the line in the quest to know who I am. I’ve faced my deepest fear: rejection. And, along the way, I’ve met with the sweetest redemption, all in the name of adoption.

I’ve learned the names of relatives, both past and present, and I speak their names out loud. Although I was a secret to many of them, they are no longer a secret to me. Cecilia, Julian, Maria, Eva, Rosa, Andre … and the list goes on and on. I have longed to speak their names and, in the longing, I have grieved what was lost; and what never was.

I’ve discovered that, as an adoptee, it is my birthright to be given the chance to know my history and my heritage. It is my right to have access to this information and to uncover as much of the mystery of me that I can. It is my right to know that I am a product of what is Spanish and English. It is my right to know of my Saudi Arabian and Pakistani roots. It is pure gift to know these parts of who I am. For, in the knowing is birthed the beginnings of healing.

Yet, beyond the bounds of birth heritage and birth history, I have come to learn a deeper sense of identity. One that has been, on many levels, unexpected: my nationality — over and above all else — is adoption.

What does this mean?

For me, it means that there are no people on this planet of whom I feel more akin to than those who live within the skin of adoption. No people of whom I could be more proud to say I’m related to. Adoption is a proud heritage, even though the history often comes with pain and sorrow.

Adoption says that I have survived the unthinkable experience of being severed from the life I was born into. Adoption speaks of the gratitude I feel for being able to forgive and even bless those who walked away. Adoption expresses my ability to love beyond the borders of bloodline. It exemplifies my ability to see the events of my life as happening for me and not to me. In other words, I am not a victim. I am a victor, and I choose to thrive.

And, when I stand with others who share this nationality called adoption, I am able to share my story and know that I am safe because I’m understood. They understand because they live a similar journey. Within our differences, we are one. We are tapestry. There is room for all voices within this nation, there is room for diversity of thought, opinion, and perspective.

As an adoption community, may we see ourselves as the founders of a unique nation that speaks the language of inclusion and a love that knows no borders.

As you, dear sisters and brothers of adoption and foster care, go out into your lives and seek truth, fact, and possibly reunion … know that — even though you may not understand this now — your adoption nationality could be the purest part of what makes you resilient, strong, and unbreakable.

Adoption is my nationality: I don’t fight this truth. Not anymore. In fact, I embrace this identity and I’m pliable to the lessons it has taught me; the lessons it continues to teach me. These lessons have taken root and blossomed into my individual offering; my calling.

I once believed that adoption was my weakness. I no longer think this true. Adoption has become my strength. I stand proud and able to continue the work of ensuring that this adoption nation is heard, seen, valued, respected, and understood.

May we be risk takers for truth; may we find the courage to revive the lost parts of ourselves. May we discover the inner-power to fuel us forward in sharing our stories; may we do so with grace and with dignity.

Within the loss that accompanies adoption, may we find life — beautiful life — and may this life be our anthem to the world.







11 thoughts on “Adoption Is My Nationality

  1. Beautifully written. I pray that my adopted children will embrace their stories as you have yours. If I may ask, do you have any recommendations, or things that stick out in your mind that your adoptive parents did that helped you come to this point of acceptance? Blessings, Cari.

    1. Hello Cari. Thank you for your comment. As for your question, I believe the most healing gift that can be offered a child of adoption is the permission to openly share thoughts, feelings, questions. In addition, the freedom to include birthparents in dialogue is hugely freeing. No secrets. No shame. Only love, support, and the knowing that you are — and will be — there along the journey of discovery. Acceptance, for me, comes from knowing that I am able to claim my identity for myself. That I am able to weave together both birth history and adoptive history as I grow into the beautiful tapestry of who I am created to be. Openness is a gift. And, a precious one for any child of adoption to receive. I’m an adoptee, but also an adoptive parent, too… I find that it’s not just important to create safe spaces and moments for our children to talk about, process, and voice all of their thoughts/feelings/trauma surrounding their adoption and biological histories, it is absolutely necessary. We must invite them into these conversations frequently, making it known that we as their parents are safe people to talk about hard things with. I hope this helps! Just keep on loving!! ~Michelle

  2. As I read this tears came pouring down. You put into words what I have felt in my heart. I once was ashamed to say that I was adopted. It was like a big secret I was holding. Then one day it clicked, I didn’t need to be ashamed. I needed to embrace the LIFE I was given! I am a victor and not a victim! Thank you for understanding and creating this adoption nation!

    1. Dear Anna, Thank you so much for your kindness and honesty. I’m so happy that you have found support and understanding within the words of this blogpost. It helped me immensely, when I wrote it, to create an anthem, of sorts, to release the shame and secrecy that had weighed me down. And, yes, to see myself as the victor and not the victim. No anger, no blame. Just loving myself enough to let it go and get on to life. My life! This beautiful life!! No doubt, this life is plagued by hard things but we’re here for a reason. Each adoptee is here for unique and individual purpose. I’m grateful to know that you are a part of this adoption nation! I do hope that you’ll continue to share your voice as we rise up and LIVE! With gratitude, Michelle

  3. Thank you for such sensitive &
    honest comments. I’m a birthmother & adoptive mother of 2 sons and we’ve all been in reunion for many years. It’s so important for adoptive parents to be honest & Open & to embrace reunion.

    1. Thank you, Kathleen. I agree, adoptive parents (and I am one) should always remember that their children’s birth parents live within them. Be open, as you say, honest and embracing of reunion, and the possibility of reunion. As an adoptee myself, I do understand how important it is to feel safe and free to express our deepest and inner-most feelings. xoxo

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