From the Lost Daughters #FliptheScript Prompts: Talk about a time when you’ve felt you didn’t belong, or felt less-than, due to being an adoptee.
**Note** Now that I have actually written this thing, I am realizing how deeply personal it is. One of those posts that you don’t intend to turn out this way, but then you get to writing and a few hours, several tissues and one cathartic experience later, here we are.
Well… this is complicated for me. My adoption was in-family. If you’ve read my first blog post, you’ll know that I was adopted at a month old by my great aunt and uncle. I found out at age 11, after having known my whole life that I was adopted and that it was in-family, who my biological mother was. She was someone whom I had only ever known as a cousin. All of this is important information for the rest of this post, where I respond to the prompt above.
I know many people who believe open adoption is better than “normal (if there were such a thing) adoption. They truly believe it is the best alternative and often comment how lucky I was to have been raised by family. Was I fortunate to have two loving parents and siblings? Absolutely. I will never say that I did not have what would and should be considered a good upbringing. The part that is tough for people to accept is that, despite everything seeming completely normal and fine about me, I was not normal and fine on the inside. I never really felt different until that fateful day when I was 11 and found out who my birth mother was. That knowledge, for whatever reason, triggered a downward spiral for me.
Heading into my teenage years, the differences between my siblings and myself became increasingly more apparent. I began to compare myself in every way possible. The interesting part was that, because we were second cousins, you could argue some similarities. That only served to make things even more confusing. People who knew I was adopted but not the story behind the adoption would often comment on how much I looked like my siblings. People who didn’t know anything would remark how different I looked from them. I never knew which was better, to look like them when I wasn’t really related, or to not look like them because we were kind of related. I felt like an outcast, like the black sheep. I still do in many ways, I’ve just grown accustomed and okay with it.
When I was in high school, the fighting with my parents was very bad. I was the only kid left at home and there was a lot of tension. I felt suffocated, I felt angry, I felt unloved and unwanted. I still have my journal from those years.
From one entry: “Mom’s always saying, “my other kids never did this.” Well guess what? I’M NOT THEM!!”
From another post.. and this one really hurt to read.
If you can’t read my handwriting… “I don’t want to go on living. I want to just give up, yet I know if I do, I’ll regret it later. I’m only 14, and yet I feel like I’ve already gone through the hurt of a lifetime.”
From another entry about 4 months later: “I’m beginning to seriously think that I don’t belong in this family. Half the time it’s like I’m not here anyway. They’re better off without me. They don’t need me, that’s obvious.”
And the most angry entry, written to my adoptive parents: (I should note that I was a very dramatic teenager and my parents were not physically abusive in any way, though my mom could be slightly emotionally abusive at times. They weren’t actually doing anything awful to me except punish me, deservedly.) “Why do Mom and Dad hate me? Why do they treat me this way? I just don’t understand what I have done to deserve this. Why don’t they just send me away? They hate me anyway. Why else would they treat me this way? WHY??? Why did they adopt me? Why, if they were going to treat me this way? All I want is to feel loved. I have NEVER heard anyone in this family tell me they love me. I might as well just die right now. It’s not like anyone would care. I just need someone to talk to and no one wants to listen, no one wants to hear. It’ll only make them feel bad and that would be out of their comfort zone. No one cares if I die anyway. They’d be glad they were rid of me. WHY CAN’T I JUST DIE???”
Wow. I’ve gotta admit, this was the first time in a VERY long time that I have looked at this journal. The foreshadowing of my 14 year old self is scary. I just need someone to talk to and no one wants to listen, no one wants to hear. It’ll only make them feel bad and that would be out of their comfort zone. Wow, is that ever familiar. That is still what I am struggling with as an adult. How to talk to my family about some of the pain and grief that I cope with as a result of being adopted. Some things never change, I guess.
Clearly though, based on those journal entries, I truly did not feel like I belonged with this family. I did not feel like I had a place in the world. It hurt so much that I wanted to die. It hurt so much that I actually did try and take my life one night. Fortunately, I was a pretty stupid kid, that or subconsciously I didn’t really want to die, because I did a poor job at trying to do it. Obviously, I failed. But it’s a scar that has stuck with me. I was 14 and reached a point so low in my sense of belonging that I tried to take my own life.
Adoptees are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide. FOUR. Don’t you love being apart of a statistic like that? I certainly don’t. We feel like we don’t belong for a reason. I am an adult now and have come to terms with my place in my adoptive family. I still feel like the outsider. I still feel completely different than my siblings. I feel like a guest in my parent’s home, not family. But all that is what it is. I am me and I am confident with who I am now. Somehow, out of a completely tumultuous teenage experience, I emerged, stronger. Somehow, all of that grief, hurt, pain, anger and sadness translated into an extremely tough person today. Adoptees deal with so much, at such a young age. It is no wonder that so many that I interact with today are the epitome of strength and resilience. Cheers to us, guys. We survived. We overcame, or are overcoming. We are more than our beginning.
So, where do I belong? I belong in this world. I belong as a weird, black sheep in my adoptive family. I belong to the adoptee community.I belong with the man I found who loves me for everything I am, included my adoption scars. I guess what I am trying to say to those out there who don’t feel like they belong anywhere… don’t give up. I did and it almost ended my life. A life that never would have had the chance to turn into the pretty great thing it is now. It may seem hopeless. It may seem like no one cares and you have nothing to live for. But you do. Your future. It gets better. At least, it did for me. All I can do is share my story.