Adoptee Confessions: I AM AMAZING!

Adoptee Confessions: I AM AMAZING!

My Adoptee Confession:

I was adopted 4 decades ago.  It’s my generation of adoptees that rules the internet with blogs, and books, and advice for families adopting today.  But the truth is, our adoptions happened 2, 3, 4 decades ago.  And despite claims to the contrary, the entire culture around adoption has changed.  It’s not perfect.  But today’s adoptive parent is more prepared, aware, and sensitive to issues than ever before.

I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s in an ultra-liberal west-coast city.  Angst was in the music, the coffee, the media, and the atmosphere when I was growing up.  Our parents had tuned-out, sat-in, dropped out…and then they founded start-ups and become part of the corporate world. 

My parents had my oldest brother together when they were young newlyweds, and then adopted my two brothers and me a few years later out of foster care.  I don’t remember ever being told that I was “adopted”.  I do remember that mom and dad were foster parents to older teen girls when I was in grade school, and from an early age I understood something I couldn’t name: Life wasn’t always fair.

The teens that my parents fostered were young women who were pregnant and choosing to keep their babies.  My mom came from a big family of 7 kids and my dad from a broken family of 4 kids raised in separate states.  They believed in helping their communities in a very direct way.  I remember two of young women very distinctly, as we were part of their lives for many years.  Whenever I needed a haircut, we would visit Eileen and the baby I saw her bring into this word, Janessa.  Eileen would cut my hair and we would all visit…like family.

This way of being wasn’t discussed or compared to others lives.  This was the way that my parents lived and I was raised as their child…experiencing the culture of our family and our ways and traditions. This was my family.  They loved, lived, fought, were very human, and always sought to help whenever they could.

I didn’t think about being adopted very often.  Okay…I wasn’t a look-alike to my parents, but I’m not willing to give away my race right now.  Or their race, or my brothers’ races either.  For now, I want to talk about ADOPTION…outside of race.  Later I’ll get into all of that.

When Did I Think About Adoption?

  • First grade: Dress up as your heritage day.  
    My  Mom was {heritage} and dad was {heritage}.  SO what was I?  Some kid pointed out that I was “NOTHING” because I was “ADOPTED”.  And I thought, “Woah.  I get to choose. I get to be anything I want.”  I was so lucky.  I came to school IRISH, after deciding that leprechauns with pots-of-gold might just really exist.  Irish was the thing to be.
  • At age 9 or 10, during a blazing summer, my mom and I were supposed to repaint my bedroom one afternoon. I’d seen a Brady Bunch episode of redecorating, and I was keyed up to get my Girl-Room into gear,
    But it was so hot, and after getting the pink paint from the hardware store, she told me that we will get up early and paint in the cool morning.  I was cranked up on anticipation, and screamed out, “You hate me!  You promised!  I’m going to find my REAL MOTHER!!”

Oh the arsenal available to us adoptees.  When I talk to others, we laugh and sadly admit that we’ve all done this (okay, mostly the girls).  It’s awful and although we relate, we also all want to call our moms a few minutes later!

What did my 70’s mom say?  “Well go ahead!”   And then she packed me a lunch.  And as I walked out, she reminded me that dinner would be done at 6.  First I climbed a tree in the front yard, and then I snuck into our car and laid down in the back seat, waiting for her to look for me.  I then snuck up to the living room window, only to see her watching TV.

  • As a Young Teen
    Around the 5th or 6th grade, English teachers started direct and in-direct hints that I should write about being adopted.  They were careful, but I now look at it as being very inappropriate.  These were strangers, of another race/place/time that were feeding me an idea of being ‘different’.  And here is my evidence:
  1. I was asked to read out loud, in class, the parts of stories/plays the matched my perceived identity (race/gender/religion/sexual orientation…fill in the gap).
  2. Teachers stopped me to “sensitively”  ask if I would like to take part in groups that I (in my mind) clearly did not have any connection to, such as ‘racial’-advocacy group.
    But, these same teachers only identified me by race/gender/whatever.  Well, I played year-around soccer in my school and was generally a hell-raiser in other areas.  They had an agenda to be sensitive, and I was a tool for their feel-good philosophy.
  3. My friends:  A lot of my friend’s parents were getting divorced when I was a teenager.  We were being told, “Hey, it’s not your fault…we just can’t get along.”  But the truth is? We never thought it was our fault.  We just felt cheated. I felt cheated for my friends…and they told me:  “You’re lucky to be adopted.  You’ll always know that you were wanted.”   As an adult, when I have struggled in my marriage, those words have come back to me.  I had so many friends who were lost and felt unwanted and told me that I was lucky to be adopted….that they felt so lost and unwanted.  My parents had problems too.  And sometimes I actually wished that they WOULD get divorced, but I never, EVER, felt unwanted. 

That’s my part 1.  And because it felt good..for me..I’ll share more in the near future.

Baye Needs a Family!

Older Child Adoption, Special Needs Adoption, Waiting Children, Adoption Advocacy, Boys
Developmental Delays

Special Needs Adoption, Medical