Many of you know that 3 1/2 years ago began an amazing journey of finding my birth family. You saw the reunion photos and videos. You read the unbelievable stories that unfolded around my birth and decisions made. What many of you don't know is the other side of my awesome "adoption story". November is marked as National Adoption Awareness Month, and honestly as an adopted person, I feel like it only gives one side of the story. In those beginning stages of adoption reunion, I began to write. Call it self healing, therapeutic, whatever.... I needed a safe place to say the things I never allowed my heart to say out loud. Up until today, I have kept this as more of a private side of my life, but today I'm feeling the need to validate the other side of the story. There's truly never just one side of a story.
Someone recently asked me if I would ever be at peace about my adoption story. What I heard was " why can't you just get over it". That's not what they said, but how I eternalized the question. Probably because I ask myself this every day. Why can't I get over it? It's like I've returned to this child like self wanting to be reassured that I'm loved, I'm wanted, and I'm enough. My answer to the question was, I'm at peace EXCEPT for the part that society only has a one sided belief on adoption.
It's beautiful. It's God's plan. I was given a better life. I'm LUCKY and my favorite "at least you weren't aborted". At least! You wouldn't believe how many people say that to my face. My mouth usually drops and I think, should my response be THANKS, YOU TOO?!?!
The other side of the story, and one I'm finally feeling brave enough to share is that being adopted isn't ALL beautiful. There isn't one adoption story that didn't first begin with loss. Close your eyes and imagine your mother or father being separated from you. Close your eyes and imagine your child no longer a part of your life. That's not beautiful....it's heartbreaking. There's science and data to back it up that even children separated at birth suffer trauma. I was told after asking if I'd ever be at peace with my adoption story, that I couldn't change peoples minds. That there was nothing I could do and I thought that was so crazy. They are right that adoption will always be around and needed in the case of child endangerment or the lack of resources to parent, but that's like saying we should never speak out against violence, racism, research cancer treatment....you get my point. The thought that I'm only one person and my voice won't matter is honestly a lie.
My decision to be vocal comes not only from the need to heal myself, but also help others who have yet to find their voice because it's scary to be vulnerable.
It comes from a decision that I was going to use my experience to help others navigate adoption with a view from one that has lived it. Up until recently the only voice elevated by adoption was that from adoptive parents. They have a wealth of knowledge in many areas but can never tell you what it's like to be adopted. It's like seeking skydiving instruction from the pilot instead of a skilled, experienced skydiver. You can't know, what you don't know.
My whole life, I never talked to other adoptees about ALL of the emotions of being adopted until recently ( I'm 43 that's crazy) and it's been SOOOOO healing to feel seen and understood. To hear them echo things and say ME TOO. I'm overly thankful for their bravery, vulnerability, and most of all this weird tribe that's become friends by the connection we share. I've had beautiful conversations with adoptive parents who desperately want to get it right and to understand how to talk to their children about adoption or understand things they may carry in a deep, hidden place. I've had adoptees contact me as they've struggled with depression and even suicidal thoughts. While I'm no therapist, there is an honor, a sacred feeling, that they saw me as a safe place to let it all out. I've conversed with birthmothers some young who are at the very beginning stages of grief after recently relinquishing their child, and mothers who have carried this pain and anguish for many, many years. I've yet to have one conversation with a first mother where they expressed not wanting their child. On the contrary I've heard numerous stories of simply lacking support.
So this November I'm asking you to think of adoption with a new lens and understand that there is no shame in sharing the full story. Admitting that sometimes adoption is hard doesn't make me ungrateful. It makes me beautifully human. The story is complex and often misunderstood, but it's my story to tell. Bare with me when its difficult. Those who know me well know that while adoption reunion has been everything I ever dreamt about ( I have them back in my life THANK GOD) the only way I can describe it is like having a very old wound where the bandage has been ripped off. Will I ever stop checking to see if they think I'm too much? I don't want to be too much, I just want to feel free to be real. I've been a little raw and bloody lately but I also know the only way out is through. No more stuffing or denying of feelings. Wasn't it Winnie the Pooh who said " How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye hard"? If I had to rework that statement to fit adoption it might read " How lucky I am to know how beautiful AND hard it is to say goodbye and Hello again. It means we are ALL worthy of being loved and known. and THAT is beautiful.