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What It Feels Like Being Adopted

Updated on September 26, 2014
A happy adoptee
A happy adoptee | Source
My adopted family.
My adopted family.
The extended adopted family.
The extended adopted family. | Source
Ten years of sobriety about to fall.
Ten years of sobriety about to fall. | Source

The subject of adoption seems to have hit a particular chord with many readers out there, and I have written at length about it in several of my other writings, but one thing I have never written about is what it feels like to be adopted. I am willing to bet there are quite a few out there who share these same feelings so now is as good a time as any to test that theory and toss a few reflections your way.

HOW IT ALL STARTED

Well, obviously, there had to be a sexual union between a man and a woman, but since I don’t know the details of that intermingling I’ll move on to those things I do know something about. I was born October 13, 1948 and as far as I can tell I was immediately placed under the care of Catholic Youth Services in Tacoma, Washington. The reasons are un-important at this late date and I choose not to dwell on them; the fact is that for the next nine months I was shuttled from one foster home to the next, nine in total, until I was finally adopted for good by Dale and Evelyn Holland.

At the time that I was adopted I still could not see. The doctors explained that I had “Failure To Thrive Syndrome,” a rather common occurrence with babies who have not been held regularly or nurtured in a natural way. Within three days of being adopted I gained my sight and the rest, as they say, is history.

AND THE BLIND SHALL SEE

I have no recollection of when my parents told me that I was adopted and not their natural-born son. I have no memory of “the talk” when I was told the facts of life as pertained to my origins. It seems like I have always known. Obviously at some point in my early childhood Dale and Evelyn sat down with their son and explained it all to him but the details or date of that talk escape me. To their credit they must have shown incredible compassion and handled it just right because I have no recall of a traumatic experience nor do I have any deep-seated animosity over the fact. I knew two things: I was adopted and my adopted parents loved me as though I were their biological son. End of story!

THE GOOD SHIP LOLLIPOP

In truth a child could not ask for a better upbringing than I had in the Holland household. I have always believed, based on family history I am now aware of, that I was the glue that held the family together, that there was some serious dysfunction in my family before I arrived and I was meant to be the “solution” to that dysfunction. Whatever the case may be I was generously loved by all and given a solid foundation with which to start my teenage years and ensuing adult life.

All of that is introductory in nature so that we can get to the meat of this article.

BOY, YOU SURE LOOK DIFFERENT

Now we are getting down to the nitty gritty. It is just plain weird growing up in a family that you do not physically resemble in any way. The men on my dad’s side of the family were all stocky, broad-shouldered men; I was thin as a rail and was taller than my dad by freshman year in high school. I did not have the same coloring, the same hair, the same nose, eyes, mouth, you name it, I did not have it. We would have family gatherings about once a month and there would be fifteen, twenty family members, and I was obviously the pick of a different litter. I’m not sure how to describe how that made me feel, but I can say without a doubt that I felt displaced and the odd man out. I certainly was treated at all times like one of the family but I never really felt like I was.

BOY, YOU SURE ACT DIFFERENTLY

I could not have been more different had I tried. Whereas the men of the Holland family were gregarious by nature, instinctively funny, flirtatious and bold, I was painfully shy, quiet as a church mouse and bordering on meek...If you had been standing on the sidelines at one of those gatherings and been asked to pick out the one who was adopted, nine times out of ten your finger would have pointed at me. It was that obvious, and consequently it only enhanced the feelings that were growing inside of me, that I was in fact different, an outsider playing a game without knowing the rules.

BOY, YOU SURE THINK DIFFERENTLY

I was a reader at an early age, a quiet introvert who favored deep introspection over loud, boisterous behavior. I was more comfortable around girls at an early age, sensing a kinship with them in that they were more sensitive, more caring and more honest. My dad was a WWII veteran who was easily angered and more than willing to fight when words failed him. I was the diplomat, not particularly afraid to fight but just not seeing the sense in it when words were much more effective.

COME ON BILL, GET WITH THE PROGRAM

That was just the problem: I couldn’t get with the program. No matter how hard I tried I could not shake the feeling of being different from the rest of my family, and although I knew of course that I was adopted it was still difficult to be the odd duck at every single family function. While everyone else was laughing and playing games I was under a tree reading a book. After awhile you begin to adopt the belief that you just don’t fit in and never will.

BUT EVERYONE LOVED YOU BILL

Yes, they did, and God bless them for the love they gave me. Still, there was a strange transition that took place as I got older. It was as though the realization finally hit the rest of the family that I was, indeed, a strange one. I often felt that all eyes were on me, judging me, wondering what other bizarre thing I was going to do. I don’t believe my mom or dad ever did figure me out and I imagine quite a few nights of tossing and turning in bed as they wondered when I was going to start acting like a Holland.

BOTTOM LINE BILL; GET TO THE POINT

The point, dear readers, is that for many adopted kids there is an almost inherent sense of not belonging, and before any of you say that maybe it would be better if the child was never told they were adopted I say that is complete nonsense. It would be infinitely worse to wonder all of those years, convinced that something is wrong but not knowing what it is, only to find out in your teen years or as an adult that you had been lied to all of those years. No, the child needs to know and needs to be told in a loving, straight-forward manner when they are old enough to understand. Do not hide this fact; the damage done by hiding it will be irreparable.

I do not have a psychology degree so I speak only from the heart. I know from my own experience that what I say is true; these are not feelings that only I have felt. An adopted child has a feeling of not being connected to their adopted family. There is no fault, no blame and no shame in that; it just is.

It seems to me that this is a matter of acceptance. From the family’s standpoint these feelings must be accepted as valid. From the child’s standpoint these feelings must be accepted as natural and valid. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being adopted. We adoptees did not choose to have this life but we can choose to get on with life and be happy. That choice is ours and ours alone. Happiness truly is a choice.

To my adopted brothers and sisters out there….I wish for you happiness!

2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

To purchase my book about adoption on Kindle go to:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008GXJJA0

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Marion, thank you, and please call me Bill, as all my friends do. :)

    • marion langley profile image

      marion langley 4 years ago from The Study

      When I read this I kept remembering back to the wall poster of the orange alone with all the apples...it did stand out...and is the sweeter fruit. So nice to read about you and your family Mr. Holland.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      khmazz, I'm so happy you liked this and understood what I was trying to say. No secrets with this boy. If my life can help others then that is fantastic. Thank you!

    • khmazz profile image

      Kristen Mazzola 4 years ago from South Florida

      Such a true, raw account of the feelings from an adoptee! I loved this hub, thank you for sharing your feelings and experiences so openly! It's a true gift to all of us adopted and not alike!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Laura, it was my pleasure, and thank you very much for taking the time to read it.

    • profile image

      Laura 4 years ago

      Thank you very much for this wonderful article. Very well explained, and very well written. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      ajcovard, thank you, and I salute you as well. We belong to a very select crowd. :)

    • ajcovard profile image

      ajcovard 4 years ago

      This was so great. As a fellow adoptee, I salute you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      rd, I was indeed blessed with the parents who adopted me. Purely luck of the draw because I have heard some horror stories from other adoptees. Thank you for your kind words.

    • rdsparrowriter profile image

      rdsparrowriter 4 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your experiences and your thoughts. As far as I know, it's always easy to love your own children, but it's very difficult to love someone who is not your own child. Your parents are indeed special people. I always admire and great respect towards people who adopt children and treat them as their own .. Very inspiring...

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure Pink; thanks for reading.

    • Pinkchic18 profile image

      Sarah Carlsley 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Very interesting read! Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rwmaurer, if this has helped at all, then I am grateful. Thank you!

    • rwmaurer profile image

      rwmaurer 4 years ago

      Bill, I loved reading your article from the child's point of view - my experiences as an adoptive father have been to be completely open with my two children - your insights have helped with my education.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Tiger, thank you for stopping by and for the great comment. Only those of us who have lived this life can understand. I greatly appreciate you sharing your story with us. Best wishes to you!

    • TigereyesRose profile image

      TigereyesRose 4 years ago

      I too was adopted, when I was 6 mos. old AND I have Cerebral Palsy (which my adoptive parents didn't know about). I always felt like 'the odd man out' even though I know my parents loved me. They told me when I was old enough to understand. I always wondered who I looked like, did I have any other brothers and sisters 'out there' somewhere. I have found my birthmother, and I have talked to her on the phone and was able to get a lot of questions answered, even found out I have a younger sister...I understand why she did what she did, it was the hardest decision of her young life. I harbor no ill-will, I thank her for it. Thanks for writing a wonderful hub! :) I know how you feel, and you are right about being happy, its our choice. I choose to be :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Peeples, I would never delete you. You have an important story to tell and I look forward to reading it. Thank you for asking; that was truly nice of you. I support whatever hub you feel the need to write on this subject so please, go ahead and use that title.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Maggs, it is an interesting group we belong to....very exclusive and most of us with similar feelings. It sounds like you were lucky, as was I, in being adopted by loving parents.

      Thank you!

    • peeples profile image

      Peeples 5 years ago from South Carolina

      Bill, feel free to delete this comment but I would like to ask your permission to steal most of the title of this hub. I would like to write one called "Adoption: What it feels like to never get adopted". Since it would be so similar in title I wanted to at least run it by you first. Thanks for your time!

    • maggs224 profile image

      maggs224 5 years ago from Sunny Spain

      There were so many points in this hub where I could so identify with you, especially the being and looking different to the natural members of the family.

      I would have liked to speak to my birth mother just to thank her for giving me to my mum and dad, and to let her see how well everything turned out and for her to see her grandchildren.

      Voting up and hitting buttons on my way out :D

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Peeples, that's okay, I just discovered that your latest had gotten by me unread. I just took care of that omission. Thank you so much; coming from you, with your background, your words mean a great deal to me.

    • peeples profile image

      Peeples 5 years ago from South Carolina

      Again I find one of your Hubs and wonder how I missed it! Such a heart felt Hub! I'm glad that while you may have felt a disconnect you still seem thankful for the wonderful thing your parents did for you. I'm happy that you got to know what having a family was like even the down sides which teach us valuable life lessons. Thank you for sharing!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rajan, thank you so much! That is why I write, to make personal connections and to discuss important issues on a very human level.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ishwaryaa, thank you my friend! My hope is that hubs like this will help others who have the same feelings; they need to know that their feelings are valid and they are not alone.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Bill, this hub, like your other ones, touches deep within. A very rational analysis done, not having a psychology degree is a big plus. I totally agree that the adopted have to be told the truth the moment they are ready to understand.

      I always learn a lot from your hubs Bill. Thanks for sharing such personal incidents, thoughts and feelings.

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 5 years ago from Chennai, India

      Another beautiful hub from you! Every word is spoken straight from your heart. That is what, we fellow-hubbers, are able to relate to your hub. Yes, you are right that adopted children when at an understanding age, need to know the truth in a diplomatic manner. I have observed that in some cases that the natural-borns did not enjoy the same amount of love and care (given by the family) that adopted ones enjoyed! A thoughtful hub. Well-done!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      NarddogBernard, great comment! Thank you for the visit!

    • profile image

      NarddogBernard 5 years ago

      I am NOT adopted, yet I have ALWAYS felt like I did not fit in with the

      rest of my family even though I love them very much. LOL.

      Also, one of my friends grew up never being able to bond with his father. Then he found out in his 20's that his father was not his biological father. So I agree with you that being honest to your adopted kids is very important.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Assert, thank you for the visit. Best of luck tracking down the rest of your history.

    • profile image

      assert1958 5 years ago

      My twin an I were adopted together an we had amazing parents. Growing up I had feelings of not being connected to my cousins at gatherings like the adopted kid. zoom 40 + years I have found my birthfamily an my history. of the 7 baby's birthmother surrendered at birth still can't find Randy Vincent born. in kentucky 5/7/1954. Catholic Charities

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I just saw that Xavier and I am honored by that kind action. Between the two of us we should be able to do some good today, don't you think? Let's see what we can stir up! Thank you my friend and may you have a fulfilling day.

    • Spirit Whisperer profile image

      Xavier Nathan 5 years ago from Isle of Man

      Another great hub Bill and I am sure you have once again connected with people who have shared the same feelings. Sometimes the very best therapy is knowing that you are not alone. And sadly many children grow up feeling that they are very much the odd ones out. This hub takes care of that. Thank you. You will find this one also featured in my daily newspaper and tweeted.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh, I am the first to admit that I have been blessed; that does not negate the feelings I had growing up. I had wonderfully loving parents but there was always a feeling of being disconnected growing up...nobody's fault, just fact.

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      TIMETRAVELER2 5 years ago

      Just so you'll know: My husband was not adopted, but all of the feelings you discuss here, he has had all of his life. While he does look like certain members of his family, he is different in every other way and has been treated so his entire life. Point here? You don't have to be adopted to feel different from your family members. You probably had more love from your adopted parents than my husband ever had from his real parents. So, you have been blessed. I just wanted you to know.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Tenkay, I think every large family has one child who feels like the odd one. I eventually learned to deal with it but it was definitely on my mind for years. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

    • TENKAY profile image

      TENKAY 5 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks for sharing your story. I belong to a large family, I am not adopted, but I am the 'odd one'. Somehow I could relate to how you feel.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Marcy, you are very welcome, and thank you for following along on this journey of mine. As you might suspect I am a big fan of adoption and I wish your family much happiness.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      What a great hub! My brother and his wife adopted three siblings, and we can't imagine our family without those great kids! Several of my friends have adopted children, in the U.S. as well as from China, India, Mexico and various other countries. Thanks for sharing your journey with us!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kelley, you are very welcome. I obviously am a big fan of adoption but only in the right circumstances so it works for both parents and child. I like that you are waiting on a decision and weighing all points. Thank you for taking the time to visit.

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      Billybuc great hub! My husband and I have always thought about adopting a little girl but still up in the air in whether this would be a good thing for our boys and whether we are getting too old for more kids. Thanks for your hub on how being adopted feels.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Always, you are very welcome; thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Very interesting story..Thank you for sharing..

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      teaches, I agree...it started out as an exercise to help others but ended up helping me greatly...thank you for your understanding.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I came from a large family and many of the feelings you mention are some I experienced as a child. Our family was so diverse in physical make-up. Some of us were tall, some short, some dark, some light, some talented, or athletic; no two were the same. I was the one that probably stood out the most due to my slim stature and this was pointed out by kids in the neighborhood often. Mind you, I was very skinny (at the time) and it made me feel unwanted. So, I agree and can relate to your hub article and I agree that children have to feel accepted in their family to make choices for a happier future life.

      It is good to see how you have made things work out for you. Your reflection of childhood not only helps others, but I believe it has also helped you. Enjoyed your hub and the heartwarming story.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sparklea, if nothing else I will always speak from my heart. I'm glad you enjoyed it and I am touched by the number of adoptees I have had contact with because of my hubs on that subject. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sonya, you are a nice person. I love your comments and I appreciate you. Thank you!

    • Sonya L Morley profile image

      Sonya L Morley 5 years ago from Edinburgh

      I found this article very moving. I always appreciate reading a piece that is written from the heart, yet not sentimental. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Sparklea profile image

      Sparklea 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      What a wonderful hub! My twin and I are adopted, but it's different from many stories...I will have to write a hub about it. I have read many stories regarding adoption, and I have friends who are adopted. You totally speak from your heart! Blessings, Sparklea :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Angie, thank you! I just don't think most people are aware of the thoughts and feelings of the adopted. I appreciate your support and comment.

    • Angie Jardine profile image

      Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      Great hub, Bill ... clear and succinct.

      It is useful to be aware of the true feelings of those who have been adopted ... many thanks for this valuable insight.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mardi, I am glad it all worked out for both of us. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my hub; your comment is a testamony to the love that can be found in adoption.

    • Mardi profile image

      Mardi 5 years ago from Western Canada and Texas

      Billybuc,

      Like you I was lucky enough to be adopted into a wonderful family and always knew I was adopted. My sister was also adopted and it was not a big thing in the family as there were no biological children of my parent's marriage. Although they both passed away when I was in my teens and early 20s it was never a question for me to not look for my "natural" mother or father, it just seemed like a violation of the love and support I had received from Mom and Dad.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Robie; family dynamics are fascinating to say the least. I appreciate you dropping by and I'm glad you enjoyed my hub.

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 5 years ago from Central New Jersey

      This hub reminds me of a saying a wise and funny friend of mine had about family to wit: " blood may be thicker than water, but sometimes water goes down easier" I am an only child who grew up in very dysfunctional circumstances and later in life was amazed to find cousins with whom I shared so many physical characteristics as well as mental and emotional attitudes-- it all gave me a new respect for the power of genes and chromosomes-- but I also have an even greater respect for the power of love which your childhood saga is also a great example of. Wonderful hub-- loved reading it.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruth, that is interesting and I suspect having biological brothers helps a great deal. It wasn't until I was much older that I could vocalize what I had been feeling all those years. I appreciate your comments and your following.

    • ruthclark3 profile image

      Ruth Clark 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      One of my sons and his wife adopted four boys at very young ages. They are blessings to all of us. In counseling, the question was asked of them how they felt.

      Since we have always taught them that sometimes it takes more love to give up a child in order to give them life, they seem to be well adjusted. We, as a family, never, ever make a difference.

      In fact, we don't even think that way. However, you have given me pause. I shall be watching for the signs and see if there might be some latent insecurities.

      One of the reasons for the security they feel may be from the fact that there are two sets of biological brothers.

      Each child has a "real" brother. You can't tell it from watching them. They're all "brothers."

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh Jackie, isn't hindsight a wonderful thing? Unfortunately I was totally incapable of such thought at an early age. I understand what you are saying and it is an interesting point of conjecture for sure. Thank you for commenting and taking the time to visit.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      CC, I am beginning to think the same thing about you and I. Hopefully you will write a hub about that experience because I for one would be fascinated. Thank you as always for your support.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Do you think if you blended in more it would have made a difference? I have no degree in psychology either but I just wondered. I am from a large family, not adopted and yet I feel different from my siblings and even an outsider once commented I must have been adopted, but in fact I was the only one born at home.

      Interesting hub.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Hmm...I wonder if I should do a hub about my own adoption. I was adopted within the family. Huge long story involving court battles and me growing up with my real mom as my "sister" and my real dad out of the picture. Interesting read for sure, billy. Dang, I think you're almost like a cosmic brother or something what with all our similarities. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Curiad, as usual, I thank you sir! Now I see you have a new hub which I must read. Thank you for your continued support and I am glad we have become friends.

    • Curiad profile image

      Mark G Weller 5 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      This is as usual for you Bill, a well written article. More importantly, a great message for all people involved in the process of adoption. You share true feelings that may very well help others in this situation.

      Voted up.