Dear Adoption, When You Turned Me Into a Commodity, I Became Worthless
You decided my existence had no value unless it was traded for a false identity. You decided my mother’s unconditional love for me meant nothing and was actually a barrier to you realising the only potential value my life held. The cure to someone’s infertility. A way for a childless couple to try and repair a damaged relationship, that was dying through spousal abuse, and for whom becoming parents was seen as the last possible way for them to realise the value of their union. My birth story became, instead, a story of how much money my adoptive parents dispensed in order to become my parents. It was a message intended to prove to me how much they’d wanted me. What the message did was set a limit on the value I held and created in me a sense of indebtedness I’ve found hard to ever shake off.
In fact, the real value my arrival created for that couple was to stimulate my adoptive mother’s natural fertility and help her to create her own, beloved child. Two for the price of one, but only one with their intrinsic value left intact. The other needing to continually find new ways to be worth something to someone, new ways to prove her extrinsic value given that you, dear Adoption, destroyed her intrinsic value.
I spent my childhood finding new and inventive ways to prove to my adoptive parents I was worth the money they’d spent. I was the best student and the most perfect daughter I could be. I produced artwork for them, and I worked summer jobs, sometimes two at the same time, providing as much as I could for myself so I didn’t slide further into their debt. Sometimes, I gave them my earnings too; direct payment, since my ‘father’, by then, was a gambler and an addict. Eventually, I had my own children and offered them a grandparent relationship with my children too. Yet I could never repay the debt. In fact my efforts only served to provoke the discomfort and resentment of my adoptive sibling. Only eternal gratitude and a reverent silence on adoption stopped me sliding further into your debt.
I realised as I grew older that the most precious things in life couldn’t be bought. A great and necessary realisation, but one that highlighted how little intrinsic value my life held. Still, sometimes, I lie in bed at night worrying I’m not worth enough. Every day I wonder about the value of my existence, trying to prove myself. Not a valuable human being in my own right, but a valuable human doing. Doing the business of adoption for you.
Adoption, I want you to know I’m working on tearing up those bonds you issued, one by one. I’m working now to realise my value as a human-being, not a human-doing, adoption. I want you to know you can’t stop me. I do not value you, Adoption. You’re the worst kind of loan shark, with the ransoms you place on genetic heritage and kinship. I won’t work for you any more, and if I can turn over your tables and throw you out of the temples, I will do that too.
I have rediscovered some of the true value of my being through finding my story of origin. A young mother with no resources who would not contemplate abortion, even at the urging of her best friend, because she valued even the idea and the possibility of my existence without ever having met me. She’s gone from this life now. You robbed me of knowing her as my mother in this life too. You are the worst kind of thief. But you slipped up when you failed to eradicate the traces of my true value before you committed your crimes, the stories I uncovered by finding others who knew her. She left that knowledge for me to find, and it set me free from your grasping hands.
I was robbed from a loving father also; having found him again, I’m having to walk the finest of lines between demonstrating my value as a daughter and not creating the same kind of resentment in his family I experienced with my adoptive sibling. Along the way, I’ve also been robbed of my half-siblings, none of whom know what it’s like to love me as their sister even though I’m one of their closest living relatives.
Dear Adoption, you have held no value to me. People tell me I was lucky to have adoptive parents; that I should be grateful for having been raised by them. I think few of the people who tell me I am lucky know about their emotionally and physically abusive behaviour. They don’t know how they continued to make me into a commodity, how they even tried to have me relinquish my own first-born child. No, Adoption. The gifts I hold now are gifts that were mine all along. Now, knowing my father and my mother, I see from where I received my sharp mind, my love of learning, and my compassion for others. Having found out about my mother’s struggles and courage, I know where I get my strength. If I have turned your lemons into lemonade, it was by my hands, and life would have given me lemons or any other fruits, even without your so-called donations. You gave me nothing of value. You cut me from me the deepest roots one can have and you cast me upon the seas of life without an anchor. You don’t get to take credit for my having learned to sail my own ship.
You should stop lying that you are anything but the commodification of children. You are a fraudster and a con artist. You are lining your own pockets with the natural destinies of infants, children, and the adults into whom they grow. You should relinquish your licence to practice such a disgusting trade. You ought to be outlawed. People are not yours to be bought and sold.
I was never your commodity, never your property. I should have been returned to my rightful space in this world, the one I earned through the evolution of my soul. I will get there myself, and the rewards will be mine alone.
This piece was submitted anonymously by a 43 year old, British adoptee.