Dear Adoption, You Lied to Me
3 days old / I was placed in foster care. I was born premature; my birth mother left the hospital a few days later. Her visits at the hospital were sporadic and then non-existent. She abandoned me. Two weeks later my foster parents got a call about me; one family of many who wanted me. My foster parents came to the hospital to see me everyday; they held me, did skin to skin, and fed me. As I grew healthy and stronger the hospital released me after many weeks in the NICU.
17 months old / The people I was attached to and called mommy and daddy were my legal parents. They renamed me. I was no longer a foster child. My adoptive name meant something to them; it meant light, hope, and strength. They’d waited a long time for this; becoming parents. Their family was filled in the courtroom. They promised to treat me as their own; as if they gave birth to me. They would cherish and hold onto me. I had the same rights as a biological child. Adoption is forever. I had my forever family. Adoption promised me forever.
The first few years / My adoptive family was amazing. I don’t remember feeling out of place or different. Adoption meant I was a part of their family. We were a real family; a forever family. They took me places a kid could only dream of. They celebrated my adoption day and the day they met me with a big party every year. I was happy. I don’t remember an unhappy moment when I was younger.
I got older / I started having feelings and more questions. My adoption was never kept from me. I did wonder why other kids were with their birth families and I wasn’t. My adoptive parents would say my birth parents couldn’t care for me; they weren’t doing good things. When I asked questions they said I wasn’t old enough to understand; all that mattered is the now, not the past. I was upset. It felt like they were keeping things from me. My adoption was closed. I had no contact with my birth family. In foster care adoption, this is common. We didn’t talk about my “other family”. To my adoptive parents, my birth parents were an egg and sperm donor. “Being a real mom and dad” meant raising kids and cherishing them. I was with my adoptive family since I was a baby, so they couldn’t grasp why I had so many questions or felt sad. They didn’t understand why I wanted to know my birth family or why I was crying over being adopted. God chose me for them. I didn’t remember life before them. They were the only mom and dad I knew. My birth parents did not want to be parents. They said they’d give me my full file at 18 years old which didn’t help me come to terms with how I was feeling. I knew asking questions about my birth family made them upset because of their reaction. I learned my feelings didn’t matter. Waiting until 18 felt too long when I wanted to know right then. I started to notice they didn’t celebrate my birthday the way they celebrated my adoption day. When we celebrated my adoption day, we had a huge party and I would get a ton of gifts. My adoptive parents were happy on this day. My adoption day to my adoptive family was my birthday. My actual birthday didn’t mean much to them. There wasn’t a huge celebration like my adoption day. This made me feel my actual birth didn’t matter to them. The only day that mattered was when they adopted me; my life didn’t begin until I came to them.
10 years old / I was suspended from school for throwing a chair at another child. My adoptive mom drove me home; I was being punished and I couldn’t do anything fun. I shouted back at her that she couldn’t punish me because she wasn’t my real mom. My real mom wouldn’t punish me. She was angry and punished me more. When my adoptive father came home I got more punishment and was forced to apologize for hurting my adoptive mom’s feelings. Both told me how much they loved me and that they were my real parents and the only parents I had. They asked how I would feel if they told people I wasn’t their real daughter. After that, things between my adoptive parents and I got worse. I started acting out more as a cry for help. I felt abandoned and unloved. I didn’t choose adoption and didn’t choose to be born. I couldn’t love my birth parents or ask about them because my adoptive parents didn’t want me to. I couldn’t be sad or angry at adoption because my adoptive parents were happy. My adoptive parents told me they were my real and only parents. My birth parents were nothing. I couldn’t have answers to my questions or know my own story because they didn’t want to talk about it. I couldn’t be sad or cry because they thought babies didn’t go through trauma. The myth in adoption is if you get a child at birth they will have zero issues and will only see you as mom and dad. My acting out and having feelings wasn’t something my adoptive parents thought I would go through because I was with them since I was a baby. When I started asking questions and having issues, it shocked them; they thought something was wrong with me and I wasn’t bonded with them. I thought if I acted out enough my adoptive parents wouldn’t want me since my birth family didn’t want me. I was testing them. I wanted them to understand me. I had to walk on eggshells with my adoptive family. I wasn’t entitled to my own feelings. I had to be careful with what I said and did because they might get rid of me like my birth family did.
14 years old / I was pulled out of class. A lady showed up and took me to her office. I was confused and didn’t want to go. I sat in her office for 7 hours. I asked when I could go home. I was told I wouldn’t be going home that day. I was going to a foster home. I was in shock. I was devastated. I cried. I fought. I tried to call my adoptive mom and dad. The people I called mommy and daddy and knew as my mom and dad for my whole life. They didn’t answer. 14 years after I was adopted I was back in foster care. A few months after I entered foster care, there was a meeting. My adoptive parents, caseworker, and therapist were all there. While looking right at me, my adoptive father told me they couldn’t be my parents anymore. It would be best not to contact them and not call them mom and dad, so I could bond with a new adoptive family. I begged my adoptive parents to take me home. They said there would be another family who could take care of me; God has another family out there to raise me. They couldn’t take care of me any longer; they did all they could do for me. My behaviors in their home were unacceptable and they couldn’t deal with me anymore. I tried to apologize for being bad and told them I did love them. They left me there sobbing. I was hurt and confused. I didn’t understand; why was I here? Why would the people who promised to give me forever give me away? What did I do so bad to go into foster care again and be forgotten about again? Adoption is seen as forever. It’s supposed to be forever. So why wasn’t my adoption forever?
14 years old to 18 years old / I was advertised on a public photo site, also known as a Photo-Listing, trying to find another adoptive family. I was a teenager. Nobody wants teenagers. I was no longer that helpless, cute, tiny baby everyone wanted and lined up for. I was no longer a blank slate infant many people hope for when adopting younger kids. People didn’t cry over teenage me spending weeks sleeping on the floor; they only cried when newborn me spent two weeks without a visitor. I didn’t stay in one foster home for too long. I was abandoned repeatedly; moving from foster “home” to foster “home”. I didn’t trust anyone. I was unwanted. I didn’t understand what I could’ve done to deserve this kind of life. My birth family did not want me and my adoptive family only wanted me the first 14 years of my life. I aged out of foster care broken, beaten, and with suicidal thoughts. I thought everything was my fault.
Adoption is a broken promise. I came with limitations and an expiration date. Forever is not forever. Forever is a lie. Don’t promote and promise forever when it’s not forever. My whole life has been a lie. My adoption is a lie. My forever is a lie. Adoption failed me and lied to me. My adoptive family lied to me. The courts lied to me. Adoption is a lie. Adoption, you lied to me.