Dear Adoption, You Did Everything Right, but Something is Still Wrong
I was an actual orphan in an actual orphanage. My birth parents both died in an accident, I’m told. There wasn’t anyone to care for me except for Baba and the other caretakers at my orphanage. I was adopted to America when I was 4 1/2. I remember leaving Baba. It surprises most people to know I can remember being 4 years old, but I can and in detail. I remember Baba’s face and how she forced confidence to spread across it in order to reassure me. My adoptive mom (actually, Baba referred to her as my “new mom”) was beautiful; blonde hair, blue eyes, and so much lipstick that my cheeks were stained for most of my childhood according to the photographs. My new mom was very careful with me. She didn’t rush to release my white knuckled grip on Baba. She was patient, kind and understanding. I loved her for that right away. Even at 4 1/2 I understood I was leaving Baba and going to live with my new family in a new home in a new place. I was told to be brave. I wasn’t afraid because I trusted Baba but I was so sad.
I had a really good childhood. My parents had one biological child before adopting me and having an older brother was really cool. I was one of the older kids in the orphanage and always had to help with the littler ones but now I had someone to help with me. He was protective and fun and we have always had a good relationship. As a family we went on vacations to a Disney resort, spent time at the beach and even hiked at the Grand Canyon.
Everything looked perfect. Everything was as close to perfect as it could be.
So, Adoption, you didn’t do me wrong the way you have so many others. There was no abuse or neglect and I always felt love. You seem to have done everything right, but something is still wrong. There was still a fracture in my life that couldn’t be undone or healed. Who am I? I don’t have any biological relatives and even after DNA testing, I don’t have any close matches. That’s the part that isn’t right. I know who I am as the son of _______ and _______ and the brother of _______ but I don’t know who I am at my core. A missing core is a pretty big part of yourself to be missing.
I don’t know what my life would have looked like with Baba. I think about her several times everyday. I miss her. I think it’s safe to say I have had more opportunity, structure and security as an adoptee than I would have had I remained in my orphanage. But even when things go so right, adoption can’t fix everything. Adoption provided me with some severely needed bandaids but it didn’t actually heal anything for me.
Adoption, you are hard. You and so many in support of you seem to think that when an adopted persons life goes well that you are to praise. You and so many in support of you seem to think that when an adopted persons life goes wrong, their biology is to blame. You take the credit but none of the responsibility.
Something will always be wrong in my life because I was adopted. I don’t really know who to blame for that. It is just a fact of my life. I’ve learned to live with it but I don’t think my adoptive parents, my adoptive brother, my extended family, and many adoption supporters have learned to live with my pain, because they barely even acknowledge it. It makes them uncomfortable. They want me to just be grateful and for the bandaids to do their job and seal closed my gaping wounds.
I don’t hate you, Adoption. But I want you to listen to me and I want others to listen too. Everything in my adoption went as right as it could but that doesn’t resolve my pain or heal my wounds or make up for my losses.