- Family and Parenting
Journey of the Adopted Girl
The Adopted Girl
“You were tossed away like a pair of beautiful, brand new shoes that did not quite fit.” - Donna K. Childree
When I was told I was adopted the first time, I did not remember. When I was told the second time, it was by a neighbor who said it to be hateful; I remembered. I was angry and confused. I was hurt, but by whom?
I asked my mother if it was true and she had no choice but to say it was, even though I know now that she wished she did not have to. I know now that she wished she could lie and make my obvious pain go away. In retrospect, I can see the grief in her own eyes as she tried to console a sharp perplexity in me that she hoped I had remembered and simply chose to ignore. As a mother now, I cannot fathom that kind of pain; to see my child filled with so much of so much and have no way to truly ease it. She did the very best she or anyone else could do and though that moment changed many things in me, I am quite sure it changed many things in her, too.
So much made sense in that moment. I did not look like my brothers or my parents and I didn’t learn as quickly or as easily as they seemed to. I had so many unpleasant nuances and habits that none of my family possessed; because of those habits, I became utterly unpredictable. I also distanced myself from everyone who had the displeasure of loving me.
It was innate in me to lie. It was easier to make up a story than tell the truth. I made up stories that were far-fetched, elaborate and many times, painful. I lied to fit in, I lied to stand alone. I was called a compulsive liar by many, but could never control or contain it. I lost friends because of my lies and I broke the hearts of everyone who loved me because I could not stop. I was ashamed of this gnawing need to be anyone but me and as those years continued to move; my lies became more and more devastating. Sadly, they were not the worst of my problems.
As I turned into an adolescent, I began stealing from friends and family. I never had enough of anything and constantly felt like if I just had more I would be fixed. The more I needed the less happiness I felt, though, and as adolescence grew into adulthood, so grew my needs. A need for men to love me, children to love me, friends to love me and things to fill me controlled every calculated move I made. Eventually I concluded that finding my biological family would surely fix me, since all else had failed, miserably. If I could just find answers, all would be well. I would be…normal.
In 1993, I found my biological family. My birth mother was drunk when I first hugged her and she smelled of old, cheap beer and stale cigarettes. She could not remember my birthday and in an hour’s time had given me three different versions of my birth and adoption- all stories that placed her in the role of victim. Within the second hour I was convinced she had lied to me an astonishing ten times, and by hour three she was too wasted to be coherent any longer and so I left. That was not enough pain for me, so I went back the following day.
In her, I saw myself. In that woman (who had two other children that were not put up for adoption), I saw a commonality I did not have with my adopted family. In my biological family, I saw my worth, or lack thereof. They lived in the slums of a small town an hour away from my hometown. They were the trash of the town and the gossip of all the local diners and truck stops. They were drug addicts, liars, convicts and drunks. This was my blood and after spending a lifetime trying to fit into anything that I could, I was finally where I thought I belonged.
It lasted less than a year. I became more of a liar, promiscuous, and eventually, a drug addict and a drunk. By the time I went back to the family who had loved and raised me, I had turned into what I thought I was always meant to be. The good that had been instilled in me by those that were my true family, I tossed into the gutter alongside my humility and decency. The hurt I put them through had only just begun, though, because it would be another fifteen years of self-inflicted torment before I would even begin to find peace.
In therapy and Narcotics Anonymous, I have learned many things about myself. One thing I learned is that many adopted children struggle with every issue with which I have struggled. The need to be loved is never satisfied. The fears of abandonment and unworthiness are built the moment the bloodline is removed- even if that bloodline is full of disease and toxins. I have learned much more than that, though.
I have learned that no matter how wonderful my parents were, or no matter their mistakes, nature sometimes overrides nurture. I have learned that my real mother, the one who raised me and took me from the slums, taught me what I do know about love today. I know that without her and my family I would not be the loving, nurturing mother I am today. I know that without all the hurt I put others and myself through, I would not be in the place of peace I am in today. I learned how to turn my bad habits into great attributes. I learned that a mother’s love is forever. I learned it takes much more than making a child to be a parent. I learned that forgiveness is equivalent to grace and grace is a rare thing. I learned that family is not dictated by blood and can be chosen. I learned that I am worth more than what is “in my nature.”
I have not spoken to the woman who gave birth to me in over 15 years. I am grateful to her for allowing my parents to choose me. I am grateful for the lessons I learned from her. I am grateful that today I have more nurture in me than nature.