Dear Adoption, You Betrayed Me
I don’t mean to sound so bitter and judgy all at once, but really, you did. You promised me a better life, full of happiness and acceptance and love, TRUE love, ALL the time. You promised me an easier life full of flowers and soft pillows and smiles and sweet smells ALL the time. You promised squishy Grandma’s and fun Uncles and ice cream sundaes ALL the time. Tender moments every day with a well-adjusted mother and mild-mannered father. Protective arms and meaningful hugs from an adoring older sister. You promised me all of the advantages in life that I wouldn’t, couldn’t be offered by my biological family. You wrapped all of these promises in a tight little wad and pressed it into the palm of my tiny, infant hand. And I squeezed that little ball of your promises until they were a part of me. But Adoption, when I opened my hand to peak at the reassurance that you promised, all that was in my hand was hand.
Memory. I sat on the carpeted floor of my closet when I was about 6 years old, looking at the palms of my hands. They still looked very babyish and I can clearly remember wishing they looked more grown-up, like my sister’s hands always did. For some reason, I licked the palm of my left hand and the warmth from my tongue jolted me into some hurt place deep inside my tiny self. I licked my right palm and it tasted like the handlebars on my red tricycle. Warm and salty too. Tears stung the backs of my eyes and I remember wondering if I should tell my mother I was feeling sad. I decided not to. She would just tell me that I missed my birth mother, again, and that it was normal and natural and my birth mother loved me so much that she made the hard decision to give me up for adoption so I could have a better life that she could give me. At six years old, I was already tired of hearing that line. Thank YOU for that. So, I hugged my brown gorilla baby stuffed animal and I cried until I ran out of tears. Life went on.
Memory. I stole some gum from the “junk drawer” in our kitchen, which was really my mother’s kitchen that she delightfully shared with us when she wanted us in there with her. I snuck into the kitchen and I snuck into the “junk drawer” and I took a coveted piece of gum and popped it in my mouth before I could take it back. I got about 25 chews into it before my mother came into her kitchen and asked me where I got the gum. I lied and said I got it from my pocket. I must have been really young because I hadn’t worked out the details of the gum back-story so I sounded like a liar. She didn’t believe me and I got 10 very loud spankings because I lied. I lied a lot. I got really good at lying. It didn’t really matter, though, to my mother. After that one lie, she never really trusted me again. Not until WAY, way, way later in my life. I was not worthy of her trust and since YOU made her the only mother I had, I knew I was not worthy of anyone’s trust. I was SO bad that you gave me a mother who hid the household gum!
Memory. My sister had long, shiny, blonde hair that my mother used to enjoy brushing. She would use all kinds of hair do-dads to fix her hair into cute styles. She INHERITED thick, beautiful hair. She was tall and blonde and had graceful hands. I was so envious. Now, I know my genetics are not your fault, but for me to witness the entirely credible experience of watching my mother and my sister doing what looked suspiciously like bonding in front of Mutual Of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom every Sunday night was nothing short of amazing. I would be that moment. I would eat it and drink it and live it just to be something so wonderful that my hair would shine and I would be the one sitting on the hassock in front of my mother, getting my hair stroked.
If I seem distracted and disconnected it is because I am. Call it an “occupational hazard.” You, my first occupation and the hazard being that I have a very easy time bouncing from thing to thing. That may be your fault too. Bouncing from mother to mother in my first hours of life.
In the present again, I curl up on my beat-up chaise next to one of the two puppies my husband agreed to get me in an effort to pull me from the precipice of my ever-deepening depression. I stroke his black velvet face fur while he sleeps no closer than 8 inches to me and I wonder, no I KNOW that you have also betrayed him. He is “lucky” to have been taken from his mother at the junk-yard and placed with a family that would take care of him and unconditionally love him. We’ve had him for 3 weeks and he still hasn’t relaxed enough to want to cuddle in our arms while he sleeps. I want to open his brain and speak dog to him and tell him that I understand and that we can talk about it and I can make him see that it’s all OK and he will BE happy eventually. I sit up to tell my husband this, and Hubs pats my shoulder and tells me that it’s OK. The puppy is fine and he’ll adjust. He’s just not as cuddly as our other puppy who licks my face and gets as close as she can to me. Suddenly, I know why I needed two puppies. I needed these two puppies.
Truth. I have two loving parents and an adoring older sister. I have fun Uncles and I buy ice cream whenever I want. I was handed opportunities and advantages that other kids didn’t have access to. So, Dear Adoption, you did indeed follow-through with most of your promises for a happy life, but the missing thing in those promises was me. If you could tell me anything, what would it be? Would you ever find time to say all the things that I can’t. When will I feel full? When will I feel valuable? When will you release me from being so “lucky?”
I look forward to your reply.
Jennifer Lynne (Colrud Talerico Chase Clark Chase) Lawrence