Mar 21, 2019
This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.
Someone asked me a question a while ago, to which I did not have an instant answer. She had asked me, “what’s it feel like to be adopted?” and my instant reply was, “how does it feel to not be?”
But long after the conversation ceased, I found the question still rattling around in my brain. I began pondering the many emotions and thoughts I have had over the years regarding my adoption and decided to try and answer that question from my perspective, which, please keep in mind, is not the average adoption. Every adoptee is going to have their own experience, which in most cases does not mirror mine.
“What’s it feel like to be adopted?”
Adoption is a weird amalgamation of rejection and acceptance. I was adopted at 18 months old and had bounced through multiple foster homes before I arrived at my permanent family, and although I was too young to fully comprehend the situations I had been through, I knew something was wrong.
There was never a time that I did not know I was adopted and my parents made sure it was an open topic should it be something I ever chose to explore. I was told the typical things by my parents – “you were chosen, so that makes you even more special,” or that “someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure” and although I tried to believe their words and intentions I never for one day felt like I fully belonged. After all, to be “chosen” means you were already “un-chosen.” I often felt like I wasn’t actually chosen, I was next on the list of children up for adoption, and they were the next parents waiting.
For me, there has always been a sense of detachment, not only from my parents but from most people. I wonder if it comes from being chosen rather than being “born to.” Not only did I deal with feeling unwanted and not good enough, from being given away, but I also felt like I was disposable; I had been given away once. In my case, four times after, so there was obviously something wrong with me; something that made me not good enough to be loved and cared for at such a young age.
When I was around five years old, my parents fostered a girl a few years older than me for a period of time that I can’t recall. Due to circumstances which I cannot remember, she left our home and was placed back into the foster system. I never heard from or saw her again. From that day on began an innate fear of being abandoned back to wherever it was I came from. After all, if they could return her, they certainly must be able to do the same thing with me. This is the base for my deep seeded fear of abandonment and insecurity.
After all, to be “chosen” means you were already “unchosen.”
There is an odd feeling of disconnect that comes with adoption. Perhaps it is the not knowing; the curiosity about our family of origin and our birth parents background. It was always weird to me to see other kids who looked like their families or brothers and sisters that looked alike. It made me wonder who I look like. Do I have my father’s eyes and my mother’s lips? Or did I have a sibling somewhere that I resembled? Someone with similar features to mine?
I yearned to look around and be able to see someone that looked like me. As I grew older I wondered about such things as my personality traits, my abilities and my physical and mental health background. There was always a curiosity if I was talented at soccer because my father was athletic, or maybe my passion for reading and writing came from my mother, but instead I am left with a sense of transience and curiosity.
There were times I wondered if either of my birth parents came looking for me, or if they ever thought of me, or if I was just a forgotten part of the past. I wondered why she gave me up and how she felt about doing so.
I grew up with an innate sense of rejection and wondered if she ever felt bad for abandoning me. Were her reasons legitimate or was I just too much of a burden? It was in my early 20s when I learned her background and her propensity for drugs and alcohol and suicide attempts, so maybe she really did give me away in hopes of a better life, or maybe she abandoned me to get back to partying. So many answers to my questions were buried when she died before I had a chance to meet her, and I think because of that, I have had to make peace with creating and living with my own answers.
It feels like living with a never ending curiosity.
So adoption for me, to sum it up, feels like being loved on the surface and not unconditionally. It feels like not quite ever being able to find your place in a family, a relationship, workplace or even the world. It feels like living with a never ending curiosity which you know will never be satisfied with the truth. Most of all for me, it was the sense of being abandoned so many times and living with the fear it could happen again.
That fear, unfortunately became the driving force in my life and by allowing that I have lived my life doing anything and everything to avoid abandonment, when in reality, that is just not possible. I often heard my friend’s parents tell them they love them no matter what…that sense of unconditional love I crave so badly but will never receive is something that has left a void deep down in my soul. I just wanted to belong.
Jody Betty is a guest blogger for SickNotWeak who, in her own words, is a master at the art of survival. She lives with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and is co-afflicted with MDD, Dysthymia and Social Anxiety. She has survived three serious suicide attempts and a handful of overdoses which lets her know it isn’t her time. You can read her blog “Raw and Open” posted bi-weekly on Thursdays on SNW.