Why do I write so transparently about the adoptee experience?
Because I know that there are other adoptees in the world, right now, who feel isolated and are frustrated by this sense of isolation. That’s not to say that these same adoptees are not loved and cherished by their adoptive families, it’s just that adoption—for the adoptee—can feel lonely.
Who do you talk to? Where do you turn? How do you grab hold of emotions and questions that you’ve stuffed way down inside of you and bring them up to the light? Will you still be loved, included, if you do?
Fear of rejection is real for the adoptee. Often, our initial reaction to this fear is to push with all of our might away from the rawest parts of ourselves. Pushing is a protective mechanism for the person of adoption.
Ever had one of those days when you say these words to yourself: “It’s just all too much!” Do you know what I mean?
That was my day on Monday. My daughter was diagnosed with pink eye and I couldn’t find a sitter to stay with her while I went to the pharmacy. After all, who wants to risk getting pink eye?
So, my girl had to ride along with me to the pharmacist. The wait to fill her eye drop prescription was slow. Like, at a snail’s pace kind of slow. I found myself anxiously counting the seconds on the clock.
I had writing deadlines edging closer and meetings to attend. I was also scheduled, on Monday, for chelation IV treatment for heavy metal poisoning (not something I could reschedule). Back at the house, the family washing machine went on the blink. My daughter’s bunny needed hay, and my younger son needed someone to plan his birthday celebration. On top of that, I was solo-parenting for the week which makes the juggle even more complicated!
I’d like to share an important truth with you: adoptees have a biological story. They possess a birth history. A biology. The biology of who they are came before adoption was written into the pages of their biography.
Adoptees will feel this biology pulsing within them for all of their lives. No. Matter. What.
Their biology exists. It’s real.
It’s ever-present. It’s a fact.
It’s the genealogy of adoption.
In college, I took a literature course on female African American writers. It’s where I was first introduced to the writings of my literary heroes, Maya Angelou and Alice Walker.
Both incredibly strong and resilient women, Angelou and Walker have known the battle of the inner critic.
It was during this time as a college student when I read a quote by Ms Walker that said, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
Forgiveness. That word. The F word. Forgive? Never. Not me. Not in this life. Maybe you’ve heard yourself think these thoughts, or even pose these questions out loud: Why would I forgive someone or something that has hurt me so deeply? Why would I forgive someone who chose to leave? How could I ever forgive?
Forgiveness can be difficult, as adoptees. We hold onto hurt. It’s hard to let it go. Yet, forgiveness—I have discovered—is the foundation for a life that is lived in love, and a life that is lived through love.
I don’t really know how to write this letter, but I’m going to try. I’m going to try and express in words what I have kept deep inside ever since we first reunited when I was a teen.
Do you remember that day? You were standing in a lilac dress in the middle of a crowd of people at Heathrow airport. I was so young and nervous. Not assured at all of how our reunion would go.
I was terrified inside, really. Scared speechless of being rejected, again. I promised myself that I would protect my heart. That all I wanted was information about my history—our history. I felt that you held the key to all of it: the key to my story and my identity.
When I was a little international adoptee, my parents would take the family traveling and camping through Europe. My dad refurbished an old VW van that he purchased in the United Kingdom. He and my mother would pack it up and off we’d go exploring!
Everywhere we went, it seemed I’d be claimed by the locals there. In Italy, folks would say, “Surely, she’s Italian.” The Greeks would add, “She’s one of us!” I was a European girl growing up in an American family. There’s both bitter and sweet in that statement.
Recently, I was posed a question on Instagram from Naomi Quick @livingout127. She asked, “As an adoptee and adoptive mom, do you ever find it challenging to hold in tandem the beauty and brokenness surrounding adoption?”
The answer is, “Yes, Naomi, I do.”
As an adoptee, it’s been difficult to see a beauty in the broken pieces of my story. It’s been challenging not to identify myself as those broken pieces. Being adopted can be confusing when so many around you say, “just be grateful.” Gratitude is hard to arrive at when it’s surrounded by unspoken grief.
Adoption, as both an international adoptee and mom-by-international adoption, has framed so much of how I see the world around me. This framing has architected within me a deep and profound compassion and empathy for those who hurt and are alone. When I was a kid, I remember that I’d be completely shattered at the thought of an animal who was lost and afraid. Pictures of orphaned children left me trembling in tears. Even my plushy stuffed toys, in my earliest of beliefs, had feelings and emotions that needed protecting.
I openly welcome questions by individuals in our community of adoption and foster care who ask about my experiences as an international adoptee.
Questions of how those experiences have formed my identity, directed my relationships, and shaped my view of the world around me.
Recently, I was posed three meaningful questions to explore, which I will do in my next three blogposts. The first question is from Oleg Lougheed, international adoptee and founder of Overcoming Odds.