Dear Adoption, Do You Still Think You Own Me?
I am the faceless girl—the head-banger from crib 22, biting her own wrists for hours on end, as she sat in a diaper overloaded with day-old shit. “Failure to thrive, but pretty,”—and so a goldmine for you. A sexual predator’s dream come true. And even better, my eyes were so green they almost looked blue in the light.
My new family paid good money for me, so how could I not think of myself as an object? A thing to be bought, sold, owned, returned, exchanged, and eventually discarded after I was broken.
Adoption, even at 33 years of age, I still don’t really know what to make of you. You are too complex to unravel, and I resent each moment I must spend trying to peel you apart—layer by layer, in order to find the inner peace of a pre-trauma self that doesn’t even exist. After all, you were not a path that I chose. You were a lifetime sentence imposed upon me for a crime I did not commit. A legal contract that binds me—but one I never actually entered. Permanent exile from the land of my heritage, from the natural attachment and love found between mother and child, which fosters normal development. You even changed my brain chemistry.
Adoption, you chipped away at the finite width of my lifespan. So many hours were spent at your door, wading so deep in your grief that I almost drowned on my own tears. I picked myself up, when I had the strength, but always found myself falling again, without any internalized unconditional love on which I could stand. I fell through life, when others around me stood proud.
Adoption, you’ve forced me into alternating between being an activist and suffering from some bizarre form of Stockholm syndrome, not yet recognized by the DSM. You held a figurative gun to my head each day, forcing me to choose between loyalty to my true self, and loyalty to the version of me that my adopted clan required. It was the price of admittance.
You gave me an imitation of family as long as I conformed. When I did not conform, you offered no sanctuary, and so I spent my time raging inwardly, in what felt like a life of captivity. I was a good pretender, but I was very unhappy and so I rattled my cage–tore my dolls to shreds, and ran away a few times, but always came back to you for lack of anywhere better to go, your Lolita.
I wasn’t really running away though, because I was actually trying to get back to my real home.
Adoption, you provided me with the finest education available—so much knowledge thrust upon a beautiful brain. Yet, I could not even hear my own thoughts clearly over the loud and constant wailing of my heart.
You gave me wounds upon wounds…so many bruises and scars that I don’t even remember the natural color of my skin.
Adoption, I’ve described your violence over and over again—tired myself out, trying to educate people about you. Most people couldn’t imagine losing their mother, father, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and grandparents on the same day—yet, you expect us to glorify this experience and even celebrate it with “gotcha days.” When we don’t—we’re ungrateful.
Adoption, I used to want to silence every word you said to me. You brought me so much pain. Yet, I don’t want to lend credence to the myth that I’m in any way a better person because of you. I don’t know the person I would have been without you, because she never got the chance to exist.
You murdered the girl I would have been, and sold admission tickets to her funeral.
You pressed your hand into my mother’s womb with smiles and unkept promises for a better future, as you pulled me from beneath her living skin and hurried me out the door to sleep in the cold arms of a corpse. I was a living child, raised by the dead.
All the bitterness I swallowed eventually distended my stomach. All the forced smiles I fashioned, eventually remade my face. You changed my very anatomy.
You made me fearful that every single person I love will eventually leave me and left me no choice but to fight for myself, because no one else was willing. In the battle, I became strong. I broke through your barriers, shattered the shackles which bound me to the grave, and every time I speak about the truth of what you are, I find my freedom anew.
You are the worst of capitalism because your profits are gleaned by destroying lives. You wear the cloak of human rights, but beneath that shallow veneer—you wear the shroud of crooked industry.
You strip so many of us of our identities without remorse, and steal from others the very ideals you claim to espouse.
You won’t even let me have my original birth certificate, holding it hostage, like a final bill of sale. Adoption, do you still think you own me?
Even though you have bought me and sold me.
Even though your name is scored across my very heart, I do not belong to you.
You see, I am a child no longer, and I am not just one face, but many.
We are rising up against you. Arm in arm, we are tearing down your walls, demanding equal rights.
You do not own me…and I, along with those who stand with us, will see to it, that you do not own the future.
Julian Kelly is an adoptee, and well-known American singer/songwriter. Her first album “The Family Reject” sold thousands of copies world-wide. Julian has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including “On the Air with Sir”– the host of BET’s 106& Park, The Lizzy T Show in Canada, and has been featured on the cover of All Indie Magazine, just to name a few. She is also the subject and director of the adoption documentary, “Almost Family” in which she details her search for members of her biological family. Julian has won numerous accolades for her stage performances and was the recipient of a Presidential accolade in 2001. She is the proud owner of Elevation Prints LLC, and strongly advocates open access to original birth certificates, as well as equal rights and monetary transparency within the adoption industry. She is also the founder of the newly formed online Facebook organization, Adoptee Liberation Front. Read sound&Track Mag’s recent interview with Julian here. For more on Julian, find her on Facebook and read her blog.