Dear Adoption, I Will Not be Anyone’s Dirty Secret Ever Again
*Trigger Warning (Abuse)
I left this page blank for so long. The idea of putting into words a message to you, for you, about you…left me at a loss. How could you not know already what you cost me. What you did to me. What you meant to me. Then I realized, it is not FOR you. It is for me.
You came into my life when my biological mother – Judith – had fallen in love with her college sweetheart – Michael – in 1969. I was a product of that love. But I did not bring joy or anticipation like new babies sometimes do. From the documents I have, it’s clear I brought sadness, panic, secrets and lies. Michael and Judith were both in school in Northern Virginia. Both living away from home and able to keep me hidden from everyone they knew and loved. That was the first time I became someone’s dirty little secret. It was not the last though. Judith lied to her family and told them she was staying for summer school and would be home during her next fall break. In August, she drove to Richmond, VA to have me and before she gave me up, she even named me Ann Marie. At 8 hours old, I was handed over to a foster family and 8 days later, to my Mom and Daddy who loved me the very best they could until I lost them both way too young.
When I was 27, my Mom helped me get my non-identifying information. Through that process Michael was found by the Department of Social Services and when asked, he responded he did not want to revisit a mistake he’d made 27 years before but he wished me well. He left me feeling more confused and more like a shameful secret than ever before.
Meanwhile, back in my home, there was someone I was related to. Not much older than me, but old enough to want to teach me to play house starting when I was 5 years old, to teach me how to touch him and that my actions would lead to his attention and love. That became the second of my dirtiest little secrets. This one I kept. For 40 years. And I added to them with abandon and relish. Convinced I was no better than a dirty throw away human.
Those secrets and lies, taught me how to keep secrets and how to lie. They taught me I was disposable, unwanted, something to be ashamed of and hidden. No amount of love and kindness from my Mom and Daddy could ever break through to the deep dark brokenness inside me. I did not feel I deserved any of it. I was unwanted from the womb.
Adoption, what you cost me was confidence, trust, honesty, and unconditional love. What you gave me was brokenness, shame, addiction, and self-loathing.
But I am done with you. I have taken back my life from you and I am a sober woman, walking with courage to help those who have suffered from childhood trauma, addiction or other mental health issues. You wanted to break me, but you cannot. I am NOT broken, I am not a dirty secret and I am not someone to be ashamed of.
I want to find Judith now. Michael as well. He does not have permission to hide me any longer. I will do it as a full, rounded person though and not hidden away under the weight of you, Adoption. I have every right not to live in the shadows, exist as an object of fear from someone who may “discover” me. I WILL NOT SIT IN SHAME for you any longer, Adoption.
Before I let you go, Adoption, I want you to know that I forgive you and I thank you for the pain and I will use it in kindness to serve and help those you, and things like you, try to break. I am not my Adoption and I never will be again.
The author was raised in southern Virginia but lived in New York City and Washington, DC where she worked for some of the largest nonprofits in the US. While battling the disease of addiction, she decided to return to school and pursue her Master’s in Social Work. Our author plans to graduate in Spring of 2019 and work with survivors of childhood trauma and substance use disorder. She shares her home with her beloved husband and a myriad of foster and adopted pets.