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.
Not All Adoptees Find a Happy Home
I am a 32-year-old woman adopted at birth.
My biological mother found herself pregnant at sixteen years old. Her boyfriend would not have anything to do with her once he found out she was pregnant, and her parents were not supportive so she chose adoption.
My adoptive parents had been trying to conceive for years with no success.
At a doctor’s appointment, the family doctor told my adoptive parents that he might have a solution/opportunity for all involved and arranged the adoption between my biological mother and my adoptive parents. Fast forward through birth, attorneys, paperwork etc and there I am. Transferred from one woman’s womb to another’s arms without so much as a glimpse or touch from the one who gave me life.
I ended up being one of three children from my adoptive parents’ marriage. As a young child, I had a hard time with the idea of being adopted. I looked so different from the rest of my family, with my platinum hair and blue eyes next to all of their dark hair and skin. It was hard to have school projects dealing with family heritage and not be able to tell anyone where I came from. I did not feel that I could say I knew who I was.
It did not help that my parents were miraculously able to conceive immediately after finalizing my adoption. My brother is ten months younger than me, and he has never let me forget for one second that I am not blood; I am not real. Of course, my parents reprimanded him, but the words still cut deep. To this day, I do not have a good relationship with my brother.
I always wondered about my biological family. Did I have brothers and sisters? Why had they given me up? How would my life have been different?
My adoptive parents divorced when I was two and my dad moved to Alaska. I would not see him again until I was 13.
Throughout my childhood, I never felt close to my adoptive mother. I felt that she was cold. I hated the days I had to ride the school bus home to our house instead of waiting for my babysitter to pick us (my brother and I) up in her old blue van. As I got older, the feelings got more intense. Not only did I not feel close to her, I hated her.
I have never since then felt such intense emotion toward a person as I did toward her. Now I do not have such intense feelings, but then – I had a horrible sense of not belonging. There was some abuse that took place, emotional and physical. She was very focused on men. She was married several times, with countless men in between the relationships.
I remember when I was ten or eleven waking up with my mother gone at work and her creepy boyfriend still sleeping off his hangover in her room. I cleaned up his vomit after he got up and was sick in the hall. I remember times when she would tell me and my brother to choose which guy she should date next and I remember how hurt I was every time she broke up with someone who was very kind to me.
When I was young – maybe eight or nine, my mother took me to a salon and dyed my eyelashes and eyebrows because I refused to wear makeup and my hair was so light you couldn’t see my lashes. When I was a little older, she told me I needed to starve myself for a couple of weeks before her wedding so I would look good enough.
When I was twelve, she told me she wished I would hurry up and start my period and stop being such a bitch. When I was fourteen, I refused to make dinner for her current fling and she told me to either go make dinner or leave.
After a week or so of living on the street / with friends / down by the river, I was picked up by a friend of my mother, Linda, with whom I had always been close. Linda and her husband were the parents I had always wanted. I begged them to adopt me. I lived with them for a couple of years.
When I was 15, Linda brought me a letter from my family doctor. In the envelope was a letter from my biological mother. She told me how often she thought about me and how she wondered if she had done the right thing. She wanted to meet.
At this point, the emotions were overwhelming. I did not know what to think. I was angry. I was not ready for this. But I agreed.
I met my biological mother when I was sixteen. Ironically enough, I was living less than a block from her childhood home. I had trick-or-treated at the home of my biological grandmother. It was all surreal, and I still was not ready. My birthmother had come from Tennessee to see her family for Christmas and asked me to come over.
I went to the home of my biological grandmother for a few hours, and I sat in the corner and read a book. I was so in shock. People wanted to talk to me, to know about me. But I couldn’t bring myself to interact with any of them. My biological mother was angry. Why was I being so rude? she wanted to know. Everyone was there to see me.
She acted like she was trying to be my mother – this woman who had abandoned me sixteen years earlier. I was dealing with so much pent up anger. Later, we fought. And then we did not speak again for a few years.
It has been a rough road. I eventually was able to come to terms with my relationship with my adoptive mother. It is more like an obligation than a relationship. My biological mother and I eventually mended our relationship. We talk, and we are both grateful to be in one another’s lives, but things are still a bit strained. I never know exactly what to say.
I have made contact with two of my biological father’s kids, but have no siblings on my mother’s side. I feel like I have been robbed of a real mother / daughter relationship. I do not love my adoptive mother like a daughter should love her mother. I don’t have the closeness with my biological mother that I feel like I should have.
Children should feel safe, loved and secure. I never felt those things. I felt, and still feel, like something is missing.