Living in the Skin of Adoption

I have my moments. Those times when I wish adoption was not part of my vocabulary. If you’re an adoptee, do you know what I mean?

There are times when I wish that I didn’t speak the language of adoption so fluently. I suppose, like every person of adoption alive today, I have my dark hours of doubt.

I’ve never pretended that I wasn’t adopted. What I have done is lessened this part of my story—skimming over my adoptee chapters. Many times, in the past, I’ve looked the other way…but, the skin still follows. I live in the skin of adoption and I know the challenges of feeling uncomfortable in that skin.

Maybe you understand what I mean by this. As adoptees, there could be times when you feel like you’re going to burst out of your skin. The complexities of adoption are hard to grapple with. You want to run away but, still, there you are—in the skin of adoption.

Perhaps, you’re thinking, right now, that you’d do anything to change your skin and this title of adoptee that you carry. I get that. I’ve tried to renounce the title of adoptee, too. I’ve tried to tell myself that being adopted really doesn’t matter.

I’ve fought against the truths of my own story. Exhausting myself as I avoided what was real. I just wanted to be someone else, anyone else, who didn’t feel adoption pulsing within their veins. Over time and over many trials, I learned a very important lesson: trying to be someone else will never assist you in becoming who you really are.

Which is what we all want, adopted or not, isn’t it? To become who we truly are and to feel comfortable in our own skin.

I think one challenge about being adopted is that it can be really confusing to know which skin is your own. There’s the skin you were born into, then there are all the other skins you have to wear to feel safe, or to not feel at all.

My journey has been one of getting back to my original skin. When I say this, I mean getting back to the place where my own strength is sourced. Getting back to this place of wellspring, for me, has taken time. It’s taken action.

The work of self-discovery has expanded my awareness. I’ve come to realize that silence can do a lot of internal damage. Bearing witness to what hurts inside is hard. It’s a gut-wrenching kind of hard. The hurt can make us feel inferior. It wants to lessen our sense of worth, and it will if we let it. You see, there’s nothing fair about adoption. Not really. Being removed from a first life is an earth-shattering experience—no matter what that experience looked like. Nothing will ever be the same. Ever. Lines are drawn that, very often, you can never go back and cross over.

The lines can play tricks on your mind and in your heart. You may ask yourself “why” and you may dig for answers. You might put a pretty face on adoption and ignore the blemishes of your story. You might focus on the flaws and never see the grace. You can say, “I don’t want to talk about it.” Or, “I’m okay, leave me alone.” Or, “You wouldn’t understand, anyway.” You can choke off your truth and hold it all in. I’m asking you—please don’t. Please don’t ever let the frustrations of this adoption experience silence your voice.

You may get tired, but don’t ever give up.

My birthday is in January. I’m a Capricorn. The goat. My feet can be so rooted on the ground that sometimes my gaze can travel downwards. I have had a tendency to focus on the negatives rather than on the possibles. I get tired. It’s been a challenge—but I’m aware. I can now catch myself when the weariness of adoption finds me focusing on what seems impossible. I pick my head up and keep moving my feet up the mountain. I won’t give up.

I won’t.

There’s something about the trek toward truth. With each step, each intentional and well-placed step, we begin returning to ourselves—back to the source of our strength. To a place that feels comfortable, where we prefer to be. In a broader context, it’s the place where the adoptee feels most at home.

In the Spanish language, they call it querencia: a place from which one’s strength is drawn, the place where you are your most authentic self.

The place where you feel—finally—comfortable in your own skin.

There is a question I ask myself and, I believe, it could be helpful for you. It’s a question of higher self and higher intention: What is the highest and best use of my adoption story?

This question has pulled me up from the depths of my darker moments as an adoptee. Answering the question has reminded me that I’m here to serve and that my story has value. Answering this question has directed me forward toward my purpose and my calling. It’s helped to identify where my strength is sourced and it’s offered me opportunities of connection, contribution, and giving.

You may think that adoption has taken from you. I understand. I used to think that, too. I now focus on what the broken story of adoption has given me. Surprisingly, the gains have outweighed the losses. From this place of gain—of abundance—I’m able to give so much more of myself. I’ve found my authentic skin.

I still get tired, but I’ll never give up.

The mountain top is worth the climb.






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