Memories shape us for good and bad. As a kid in the 70’s, I was the odd kid in the neighborhood that everyone made fun of. I had been in foster care, until I was adopted at the age of 10. I came to the Slagoski’s when I was 4. I did not know if I was coming or going or where I fit in. I was extremely overweight and not at all like the delicate flower that I wanted to be. My foster parents were much older than other parents in the neighborhood, so people would think and mention to me that they must be my grandparents. My mom made all my clothes-in the age of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans. (I am thankful now.) I could go on. The point being, I was fodder for kids in my group to torment me, and they did. Sometimes they would run by my house yelling out things at me as I sat on the porch. Now there were times that they were friendly, but it was off and on, mostly off.
Birthdays were the hardest because it was a celebration of birth, and I was still trying to figure out where I came from and why I did not fit in. Most of the time I felt like I dropped in from another planet. I had a foster sister that would tell me that we got phone calls from a lady who said she was going to come and get me. They were rich and had a merry-go-round in their backyard. I was at once intrigued and nauseous with fright thinking I would be taken away again. I wanted to wash birthdays away.
One birthday my mom wanted to throw a party for me, with the neighbor kids. I was in panic mode and sick to my stomach. I tried to explain to her, that they did not like me. She was trying to help. She had me deliver the invites to each kid in person. I remember the slow walk to each house, I recall a group of them playing together and laughing. Now, they were not horrible kids, I was different and sometimes kids do not know how to process that and later I was close with several of them, but that time stuck with me forever. Then it felt like death, there was so much going on, and at that time my parents did the best they could.
The birthday party happened, some came, and some did not. I don’t remember too much about it, I remember more about having to deliver the invitations. I am now 48. I have a successful life. I have had other birthday parties, I have some of the best friends in the world. I turned into a creative. At that time in my life, theater also became a lifeline. I found my place where I fit in, where I could express myself. I have had therapy, I have a deeper understanding of many things. However, I still have challenges throwing a party. I do have them, but deep down in my soul, there are times where I still feel like I am walking up the driveway to give out that invite and I have to dive deep and work out those feelings, even at 48.
My story is not unique, I have had the luxury of meeting people of all walks of life that have their own demons and joys; It is our human experience. What my story did was teach me compassion to everyone, to listen to each person’s tale and to not judge but to love. I try to teach this to my kids. I watch as they and their friends go through the same kind of trials, but see it distorted on social media. I thought life would improve for them and the next generations, but I cry at times to see the harshness of how people continue to treat each other or themselves. I have heard people say, Robin made it to 63, why would he leave now. I think we can be 63 and 5 at the same time, we grow, we age, but we are still that same person and emotions can sneak up on us, even those we thought were healed. Chemical depression can debilitate at any age. Each person has a story, and if we take time to listen without judgment (Oh and I do judge-right, I am human, trying to work it out) and just be there, and also put ourselves out there, be vulnerable, be pained at times, just be…Then maybe we can free ourselves a little bit.
Birthdays can still haunt me at times, though I have finally found my way. As my kids wake up today and are wishing me a happy birthday, I feel all the joy in the world and am so grateful to be here.
Molly is a reunited adult adoptee. She has 7 biological siblings that all lived in different families. She was in foster care till she was adopted at age 10 in 1976. She has nieces and nephews that were adopted from Korea, Russia, and the Philippines. Molly found her biological mother while she was in grad school and established relationships with 5 of her sisters. Last year, after tenacious searching she discovered the history of her biological father and two more brothers, all whom have passed away. After receiving her MFA in Theatre, she moved on to the corporate world, and is now a mother of four children ages 9 through 14. Always a creative, she just recently began finding her voice to write about her experiences.