What It’s Like Being Adopted - Twice
The Lifelong Search For Self
They say having a child of your own is unconditional love but I would say adopting a child of age requires a real large amount of unconditional love as well, and if you don't have that then there's more heartbreak ahead than you may have prepared for. I also believe there is a honeymoon stage as well when it comes to adoption, saying I have gone through two adoptions myself. I have gotten to a point in my cycle of time now that I don't carry the hurt and confusion I once walked with for such a long time, for them – for they were not equip to unconditionally love and most importantly take the time to learn each of us as individuals rather than a bundle package you could buy on amazon. We lived through the same experiences but none of us took to them the same way. We were all two years apart and there are some things I remember that one of my siblings may have no recollection of. A memory that impacted me and one that did for them that I don't remember myself. We desperately needed to be loved and be shown what love really should feel like from a parent. However, we knew even here that wasn't going to happen and perhaps we never would until we had families of our own.
- My oldest brother was the father figure. We looked up to him and we always expected he would know the right answer and if he didn't then he would find it. He was the funny one out of the four, always so witty, and very intelligent. He was the most athletic – he could literally hop in any sport and quickly be at the top. He could run a four minute mile and was the QB of the football team. Obviously he was the most popular and boy was he a lady's man! He needed love but unfortunately he learned long before I did to never ask for it. He was hard headed but his guard up was even harder.
- My youngest brother was the quiet one. You'd find him in the woods building a fort of anything he could find outside. He'd find a way to cook eggs from the chicken coop with supplies and a fire he made from scratch. He loved anything to do with the outside, guns, hunting, and fishing! He was also very talented with any instrument he picked up. He taught himself how to play the guitar. He absolutely hated anything that was physical, no sports all. He was goofy and enjoyed his alone time. He's always been careless about love. It's silent but it's burning inside.
- My youngest sister was still so young she didn't know what she liked yet. She was very affectionate and wanted to always be around someone. She always had a joke to make, she was smart but she hated school. She was the grumpiest person I've ever met in the morning. As long as she had sweets she was happy. I see a lot of myself in her, we both are such loving beings. She can't get enough of it.
In theory it seemed like a picture perfect story – small town family adopts four children who lived a heart breaking childhood – rescuing them from floating thru foster homes and shelters. They would receive their moment of fame for their charitable act but than the colors began to fade and this perfect picture was no longer displayed for the public eye because there wasn't much of anything that was perfect. At all. I call this the honeymoon stage. They lather us up in new items that we've never had, we have dinner every night as a family, we play outside on the four wheelers, we're allowed to part take in sports, and they tell us we can call them 'mom and dad'. To be completely honest . . . I am not sure when and why things began to shift. I've always known they didn't know how to treat us as a whole, their two kids, and us four. The dividing love in the house was apparent to all. One evening we were told they needed to do something with their two kids as a family and they left us home. Another day after school we received a call from our 'mom' and she told us to not come home because our 'dad' was going to take us back to the shelter. Their fighting became too much to bare and maybe we were the reason. They gave their selves too much credit and weren't prepared for a family of four to grow into a family of eight. My oldest brother ran away. He was eighteen and wasn't going to be adopted again. I called my brothers teacher that was around us often and would take us shopping for things we needed around the holidays. She ended up adopting me. My youngest brother was taken in by my best friend's family and my youngest sister was too young for us to take her. For months they kept us from seeing her because we weren't “good influences” I've never understood what we did to deserve to be abandoned for the second time and then withholding my little sister as if they deserved to have her. I remember standing in the gravel road one of the days they finally let me see her. I looked him straight in the eyes and asked why they won't let her go and he said, “If we lose her then everyone will know we failed” They didn't keep her out of love, they kept her because she was the only thing holding their failure together.
My heart has hurt but I have been given a gift to manage and understand the pain is real but it doesn't last and it doesn't have to be real in my now. What my heart aches for is knowing my sister isn't getting the love she needs from her parents. She was already so young when we were taken away and placed in another broken family that will emotionally neglect her and when you don't have the gifted ability to work through that let alone understand it, she's going to hurt. Her future love is going to hurt. She will hurt herself and won't know anything different.
Your love as a parent doesn't stop at eighteen – when your children move out and move on through their life, your love and support doesn't stop. It's needed more than ever. In the years you had with your child you built an internal comfort to prepare them for what will come within the best of your knowledge, hopefully, and when you didn't . . . you have placed your children in the hands of broken society to guide them. You will be needed.
Third Time Is A Charm
You never held me as a child. You never heard my voice before it lost it's sweet and innocent tune, we never sang songs together that I would remember. I never learned all the beautiful traits and habits of yours that would become some part of me today. You never got to hear the sound of my first words or see my first steps, and by some miracle you are my mom and you are my dad. My nickname since I was a child has been, Riah and now I am Aunt Riah. When one of nephews calls me Mariah – It seriously makes me sad because I am Riah to them. I don't know where so much importance is hiding within such a small name.
mom and dad -
Some will never know the ache and pain that comes with not having a parent to call mom and dad. Not being without a physical parent but calling them their given name instead mom. It's the silliest thing I have ever longed for, I miss it. I miss saying those words so damn bad. I couldn't imagine having a child and him or her calling me anything but mom, I wonder if that's ever bothered my parents the way it does me and the older I get, it doesn't go away. I came over for my 25th birthday dinner and I decided to stay the night. My sisters bathroom light was on and it released a beam of light down the hall as I was walking down my parents staircase to get water from the kitchen. I found myself stopping at the edge of the couch. The door was cracked open. I could hear the sound of the fan that was running beside my mom as it does every night. I remember looking at their door and thinking they never knew me as a child and I am standing in their house right now. I was a stranger to them. I look over to the pictures on the wall and back up to where my brother and sister lay in their rooms. They grew inside her wound and those are her babies. Eleven years ago I was a stranger standing in this house. I was a stranger walking up the same staircase and today I am a their child walking back down the staircase. I'd come home and I would hide in my room because there I was safe. I could think and do whatever I wanted in my safe place without needing to ask. It was nice to be alone and just be. I was also scared to be – with them – as a family out of my room. I would analyze over each of them and would always be taken back by the normal they've always had in their life. I wanted something normal but no matter how normal of a family I was placed in – I was never going to be.
It's Not What You Didn't Do, It's What They Did Before
You can't be a part of something that doesn't want you to be a part of it equally. I found my biological father when I was 21. I was living in Florida and he was living in Oklahoma city with my biological sister. We met once when I was 9 years old where he elaborated that he didn't want to be a part of my life he was married and had a family of his own and it was too late for another addition. However, how incredibly sad that was as I got older I understood my surrogates intentions were powered by selfishness and money. He wouldn't give her money and from that moment she didn't care at all if he was in my life, regardless how badly I needed a dad. My own dad. I grew up around my step father. He too was a piece of shit. He sexually abused me until I was old enough to know he couldn't keep it hidden anymore if he continued. I remember trying to tell my surrogate and she yelled at me and said, “You cant go around telling people that, it can ruins someone's life” She was trying to protect him because she looked at herself less than enough to leave him and be on her own with four children. In result she hated me and wanted to make that visible to her own child. I was never cute enough, I was never small enough, I ate too much, and I wasn't like my brothers and sister. I still have a vivid image every time I pick up a sports bra – when I was nine years old I wanted one so bad. I was a chunky kid, I was bullied at school, by my siblings, and by her. “ Fatty fatty two by four, Mariah's too fat to fit through the front door” my siblings were joking but It never felt like a funny joke to me. One evening she bought me a white sports bra and told me I had to walk around the house in front of my family. If I wanted a sports bra then I needed to be comfortable enough to wear it in front of people, as they laughed, still to this day I have never worn a sports bra in front of anyone. It's interesting how shit sticks with you. Five years later and I have a new dad, my third, who I actually called dad, and he too exposed of me, us, just as quickly. To my dad now, I am sorry. I love you and I wish I was closer to you . . . I look at both of my sisters and wish I was just as close to you as they are but it's not my fault. The father figure has been ripped and torn into pieces at a younger age than it should have been. I don't know how to get past it and I hope one day I do. As early as I began to imagine marrying a person, I didn't want it because I didn't have a dad that would walk with me down the isle. Not because he had to but because he wanted to. I love you and I promise one day I will get to you.
I let you both in as much as I possibly could and I never wanted to leave any of you. I had to move to repaint my own picture. I had to remove myself from anything that defined me so I could internally start over and find the person that was dying to be seen. Unfortunately you never stood a chance. My heart and what was left of it was broken, confused, and empty. To my mom and dad now . . . you saved me. I appreciate you more than I could ever try to express in words. The love I have for you is too profound to be described so I hope one day you feel it in the depth that it truly exists. My biggest fear is letting you down. You welcomed me into your family, I am a part of it, and the last thing I want is not being enough to fit into it perfectly as you all do. I've called you my soul mom because I have gone through so many to get to you. I have moments where I am indulged with the feeling of anger that my first adoption stole pieces of me that belong to you, pieces of me that you never would of broken, pieces of me that you would believe in. With you I would have been safe and maybe I wouldn't have had to go on such a long journey to put myself back together.
What I remember the most is sitting on the porch and talking to my mom. I needed those moments. I needed to know moments like that truly existed in a family. I needed to know you and I needed you to know me . . . maybe if you knew me you wouldn't ever want to get rid of me either. I needed love from you in different ways and I was scared to ask. I didn't know how to ask. I wanted to hug you more but I didn't feel comfortable to walk up and do it. I wanted to call you mom and I wanted to call you dad. There was times I practiced in my room saying it out loud but I could never find the right moment to do it. As time passed so did the strength to just say it. I had visions of what it would be like to do family stuff, just call you to talk, to have family dinners at least once a week. I had all of these expectations of what it would be like and it's not your fault. I left and when I was ready to come back it was too late. Your life's have continued and that is normal.
I Missed You While I Was Gone
Two weeks after graduation I moved to Florida I was finally with my sister again. Life was becoming within my life and I was ready to explore. I wanted to break free from anything that I once believed in because if I was to let it go, find my way back to it, then it was meant to be apart of me again. I found a lot of things in my time away but the one thing that resonated with me the most is simplicity – within ourselves. We create way more pain then there needs to be. The world is full of pain so why must we create more of it instead of moving past it because when you tell it to fuck off and it's not real, you win. I got to a point where I was able to talk about series of events in my life and be grateful they happened rather than be sad about it. I am SO grateful the Universe/God chose me to walk a broken path because they knew I would become stronger, I would do something with it, I would take it as something positive to effect the ones in my life and MY family one day. MY CHIDREN. Damn, will they be loved and will be prepared to heal through life even better than I did. For they will not experience some of the pain that I did that could have been avoided by an actual parent. I loved, I was given love, I was given heartache, and when I knew the time was right – I'd come home to let them know I am okay. I always missed my family but I didn't miss anyone more than the person that was within me enough to leave yet. Last June my family and I met halfway for a family vacation in Destin, Florida. I knew this was going to be the time I asked my mom what she always meant when she said, “You saved me, and one day I will tell you” the answer was what I always expected but she doesn't know she saved me too. Not just because she took me in and gave me a family and a home. No, she saved the person inside. On the drive home I pulled into my apartments, parked, and looked up to my empty home. This was the day I missed my family in a different way. I always thought what it would be like to come home for awhile and be able to pull into the driveway just because. I thought about the things we could do as a family again. Maybe I could have more days where I get to talk to my mom again on the porch. Maybe I'll be able to get closer to them all. Maybe too much time has passed.
I am not sure if anyone else feels this way - but being adopted regardless how many you go through, I am not sure if you ever completely feel the same. I hope in the search of time I am proven wrong. I know my parents weren't asking nor were they searching for me, but I was searching for you. I will always need you. You have marked a spot on my heart, unlike a lot of others, your mark is positive.