Are you happy you were adopted? Do you believe you ended up where you were meant to be? Why or why not?
I think I’m going to need a glass of wine to answer this one… It seems like it should be a simple question. Yes or no and you have your answer. For someone who’s in reunion, I should know a simple way to describe if I’m happy or not. And yet…
There’s a part of me that’s happy I was adopted. I had a reasonably good childhood. It wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine, but I was (mostly) happy. I had beach vacations where I’d laugh and frolic in the waves (isn’t that a great word?). I went to Disney World when I was six and got to see Barbie from my dad’s shoulders at a parade. I never went to bed hungry, I had a large extended family that loved me, and I was sung to sleep with a lullaby every night. Compared to most, I had it more than good. And I love my family. And my friends, the ones I grew up with in a town where my adoptive parents chose to live. And the people I met at the college my adoptive parents took me to visit. And my husband, the person I met because of the college I attended. Every life experience I’ve had is in part because of the life that was chosen for me by a social worker. I’m generally a happy person, so to say that I wish I had a completely different life would be a lie. And I can’t imagine never knowing my parents or growing up any other way. So to say that I wish I’d never been adopted wouldn’t quite explain how I feel because saying that would mean giving up everything that I love and hold dear. I wouldn’t wish that away for anything.
And yet… For years I felt like there were missing pieces. There were times when I felt like the alien child and that I stuck out like a sore thumb. I heard the whispers when I was out with my mom and sister whom I looked nothing alike and felt the sting when people would assume my mother was my babysitter. There were times when nobody in my family understood why I would talk so fast or with my hands and I’d be told to be quiet by adults who just didn’t get me. My sense of humor wasn’t the same as my parents; there were times where it made me feel alone in my own family. And there’s that constant fear of rejection. If my natural parents gave me away when I was a baby, couldn’t anything else happen? So to say that I’m happy to have to deal with all of these emotions would be a lie. Because I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
Now that I’m in reunion, things are even more complicated. My kept sisters have good lives. They didn’t grow up hungry or miserable. They went to Disney World too. They have a wonderful and supportive family and from what I can see, grew up understood and supported by their family. When I’m with my natural family, I fit. I can talk with my hands and grin when my natural father starts doing the same thing. I can ask all the questions I want and it’s not weird. My sisters and I look alike and people like to point it out. I’m not the odd duckling anymore. I’m with my people, the ones that I was intended to be with. And yet…
I can’t shake the feeling that things could have been very different if my natural parents had kept me. Maybe if they had kept me they wouldn’t have gotten married. Maybe they wouldn’t have had my natural sisters. Maybe things wouldn’t have worked out for them the way that they did if they had a baby at home. I don’t have a magic ball to tell me the answers to these questions. So really, who knows?
So the complicated answer to this very simple question is that I’m both happy and unhappy at the same time. And you know what? I’m OK with that. I’m at peace with this duality. I’ve gotten used to standing with one foot in one world and another foot in another one. It’s not always the most comfortable, but it’s where I’m at. And I do think at this point, I’m where I need to be. It may not always make the most sense to me, but I certainly couldn’t imagine my life any other way. At this point, I’m an adult. I make my own way. I take what I was taught by my adoptive parents, what my natural parents gave me through genetics, and my life experiences which I claim to be my own and I do the best that I can. I’m not always perfect, but I make my own decisions based on what I feel is best for me. I can’t change the past, but I can alter my own future and make it what I want it to be. For me, that means living in the middle of two families (three if you count my in-laws). And that’s just fine by me.