In honor of November being National Adoption Month, Portrait of an Adoption is running a special series called 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days. Designed to give a voice to the many different perspectives of adoption, this series will feature guest posts by adoptees, birthparents, adoptive parents, waiting adoptive parents, and foster parents-turned-adoptive parents. Painful and beautiful, these stories will bring you a deeper understanding of what adoption looks like, allowing you to appreciate the many brushstrokes that comprise a family portrait.
Afraid of Being Left Behind
By Melissa Miller
I was adopted on September 30th, 1981, when I was a little over three months old. My parents, like many adoptive parents, tried for years to have a biological child, but it wasn’t meant to be. I truly believe that it WAS meant for them to be MY parents.
Growing up, the fact that I was adopted was never a secret, but we didn’t really talk much about it, either. It was just part of who I was. I had blonde hair, blue eyes, and pale skin. But those were all physical traits – tangible, obvious. Adoption was something different. It wasn’t something I could see, or touch, but I felt it every day, just the same.
I have no doubt in my mind that I am where I am supposed to be, with my parents and my family. They wanted a baby; I needed a family. My birth parents were fifteen and nineteen, and luckily for me they both realized they couldn’t give me the kind of life I needed or deserved.
But (of course there’s a “but”!), no matter how wonderful my parents were, no matter how blessed my life was, I always felt…a little lonely. Sad. Alone. Homesick. Afraid of being left behind. All of these feelings that didn’t make sense, I didn’t know where they were coming from. I just knew that they were always there. Sometimes they would stay buried, sometimes they would come bubbling up and take over and all I could do was ride them out.
For years I thought I was the only one who felt this way. I didn’t know many other people who were adopted, and I didn’t want to tell my parents because I didn’t want to hurt their feelings. I just thought I was weird.
Fast forward to 2010. I was on CNN.com and came across a story about a girl named Katie, who was teased for liking Star Wars. It was a sad story that had a very happy ending. It was by reading that story that I found Carrie’s blog, Portrait of an Adoption. I started following her blog and read every post. Since my mom and I have never really talked much about my adoption, it was very interesting for me to hear the perspective of an adoptive mother.
And then one day, I read her post entitled Separation Anxiety and the Adopted Child. It literally took my breath away. The loneliness, the vague unnamed fear…. it actually DID have a name, and other people felt it, too. I may have cried, reading it. It’s a definite possibility. It was just so eye-opening. Thirty years of feeling like a giant freak. But maybe – just maybe – I wasn’t a freak after all!
Now, I will admit - I don't know much about adoption and the psychology involved, other than my own personal experience. I'm not an expert; I've just been there, been that.
Like I said, I have always, always hated being left out, or left behind. Maybe not all of that has to do with being adopted. But I would bet you all the money I have in the world that a lot of it does.
On a primal level, what kind of damage does being left, being abandoned, DO to a person? Does it shape, color, define all relationships that person has for the rest of his or her life?
I have to say yes.
A lot of you will say (think), BUT! Your parents (my "adoptive" parents) wanted you so much! You weren't abandoned; you weren't tossed aside by the one person who is supposed to love you forever!
Well. That’s mostly true. My parents wanted a baby. They got me. And I'll be the first one to say that all three of us were LUCKY. I am so glad that I ended up where I did; where I am supposed to be. My parents are wonderful people.
But that doesn't take away from the fact that I started out as unwanted, a mistake.
I wasn’t supposed to happen.
And no matter how much love my parents bestowed on me, always in the back of my mind I know, I remember, I feel that I wasn't ever wanted to begin with.
And every time someone leaves my life, that silent, primal part of me wonders if they're ever coming back. I wonder what I did wrong. I wonder what's wrong with me, why yet again I'm unwanted, and unneeded.
So if I'm a little (a lot) crazy...if I cling a little too tightly......if I love too much or if I'm too hard on myself...... I'm trying. But, sometimes it's a little harder for me than it might be for you.
By Melissa Miller