Dear Adoption, The Physical Abuse Didn’t Kill Me but The Emotional Abuse Did
I spent my first three years of life bouncing back and forth between family members before being adopted into the home I grew up in. I know not many people remember when they were three but I do and I’m guessing the strength of my memory is because of the trauma; I don’t remember anything good. I remember always feelings afraid, worried, worthless and sad. But I did know I was with my family and even though it was not a good life, there was something good about that.
When I was adopted I was scared and I didn’t want to leave family because at least it was familiar. If I knocked something over I’d be beaten. If I spoke too loudly, got sick, or breathed wrong, I’d be beaten. I wouldn’t call it comfort, but there is something better about knowing the future instead of not knowing.
As it turns out, I didn’t have much to worry about. The family who adopted me continued the abuse. Sure, they changed it up so there were no bruises, scrapes or burns to explain away. I really think they wanted to save someone to elevate their egos and adoption gave them a means to do just that. They beat me down emotionally every hour I was awake and I did not sleep very much. I was too slow, too dumb, too needy, too damaged. “Don’t you know how lucky you are to live here, with us?…Thank your lucky stars, it could be a lot worse and you could be dead…”. Sometimes I wished I were dead.
When I was a three year old being pushed down the stairs, I knew the exact moment I would hit the concrete floor and the pain would sting. I used to count it out in my head.
When I was a five year old, I never knew what sharp word would cut through my heart at any given moment.
Push me down the stairs any day. I can heal from that and I have so many times. I can count the seconds and I know when the pain will begin and when it will end.
The cruelty of words is the bruises don’t show.
The family who adopted me enjoyed my downtrodden facial expressions because they would then explain publicly that I had “been through so much” before they “took me in”. When I was thirteen, I actually laughed when my adoptive mother said that at church. The way in which she turned her enraged face to silence the truth my laughter might reveal startled even the good church going friend she was talking to. But she quickly collected herself and poised her face back into the perfect church lady smile and they continued to discuss how I was often locked in a room for days as a child and how I now have a beautiful room with wallpaper, a toothbrush holder and one doll (my adoptive sisters had more dolls than I could count). I hated that room with the wallpaper and I felt more locked up in there than I did when I actually was locked up.
Finding joy is not easy for me. Sometimes the only thing I’m joyful about is being on my own. It is a lonely place. But it isn’t as lonely as I ever was in any of the families I was a part of.
I hate bad parents. Biological and adoptive. My own childhood isn’t what makes me the most angry. What makes me the most angry is how there are still people having children and adopting children who are cruel and abusive and are “raising” their kids to possibly have a life like mine.
I’m sorry to all the kids who go through what I went through. I’m never having children.
I don’t talk about my childhood very much. When I do it surprises people that I wish I was not adopted. The physical abuse from my biological family was really bad and it may have killed me over time. But the emotional abuse from my adoptive family was worse and it did kill me. It killed me and re-kills me every day of my life.