Welcome to 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days, hosted by Portrait of an Adoption. This series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying adoption experiences and perspectives.
I arrived at 2 weeks old in a baby blue onesie two sizes too big.
I was grey and malnourished.
I would be the smallest baby that my mother ever had.
Your definition of mother is different than mine.
To you mother is the one that gave birth to you.
But I do not associate with the person that birthed me.
I call her by her first name.
She was not made of maternal material.
Because a child’s life is worth more than a pack of cigarettes.
She left my brothers and sisters inside while she went out for a smoke break.
Her name was just a word that rolled off my tongue.
I never loved my birth mother.
I loved my sisters and brothers and my new father and mother.
I may have been birthed by her but she did not treat me the way a mother would.
The way a mother should.
My definition of mother is the one took me from the one who mistreated me.
Saved me from that type of abuse.
Engraved her love in my heart, erasing the name of the one who was supposed to be my mother.
The place I first met my mother.
Not in a hospital.
But a home surrounded by woods with a trampoline in the yard and a dog that loved to lay beside you.
A home is where you are loved and taken care of.
My younger siblings do not live in a home.
Yes they have a roof over their heads and sometimes have food on their plates.
But they are left lonely when their mother finds a new object for her affection or addiction.
I have 13 siblings.
Nine that I share blood with.
The first mother I ever knew was someone I had no DNA match to.
The first family I ever knew I shared almost no DNA similarity with besides my sister.
I spell mother L-O-V-E.
They asked me to spell family one day in elementary school.
I spelled out A-D-O-P-T-I-O-N.
I had a very normal upbringing except for having to visit my younger siblings every month.
They lived with my birth mother.
We would sit in a white room with plastic tables and plastic toys.
Observed for our behavior, making sure we were stable.
When they should’ve been making sure to save my little sisters and brothers from the person they call mother.
Not the one who I would call mom.
She would not share that title.
Her sense of entitlement tied her down like a sail on ship with no direction.
Her moral compass is broken and her ship is sinking.
But the passengers on that ship did not ask for this.
Hostages on board being defined by their mother’s actions.
They are tied to that ship by the DNA that flows in their veins.
In my veins too.
She gave me height, hair color, and my constellation of freckles.
But my real mom gave me happiness, compassion, a moral compass that always seems to point me in the right direction, and a life with more love and family in it that I could have ever asked for.
Savannah is the teenage daughter of Petrecia Shales, who also wrote a piece for this series called Lucky, But Not Lucky Enough.
* * * *
Carrie Goldman is the host of Portrait of an Adoption. She is an award-winning author, speaker, and bullying prevention educator. Follow Carrie’s blog Portrait of an Adoption on Facebook and Twitter
To continue receiving posts from Portrait of an Adoption, simply type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button.