At seventeen years old, I feel I know enough about my adoption to share my knowledge and experience with others.
I was adopted at a mere age of a few months, where my adoption was arranged prior to my birth through an agency. I am very fortunate in my situation to have a close relationship with my birth mum. I grew up knowing her, where she lived in the same country as me for seven years of my life and I now annually travel to the Gold Coast to stay with her in my school holidays. I see her a few times a year, where she ultimately feels like family. I have two half brothers on her side, both of which are much older (25 and 33); I am an aunty to the three kids of my oldest brother. I also have a younger brother (16), who my adoptive parents conceived after my adoption. I don't ever remember being formally sat down at a young age and told by either my adoptive nor biological parents that I was adopted. I am actually unsure of how I developed an understanding of my adoption at a young age, however, I do know that it was the smoothest way to come to grips with the concept.
For most people who remain within their biological families, family holds a significant place in their lives. For myself, however, this is less of a significance. It's not that I don't desire this feeling of belonging, I've simply never experienced it to the extent of which others around me do. My relationship with my adoptive mother is tense; where I doubt this would change if she was my biological mother. This does not mean to say, however, that I am suppressed by my adoptive family against reaching my potential or full capabilities. I am very privileged to possess the ability of attending a prestigious school, participating in overseas sporting trips, travelling and being provided with financial support. However, I am not quite privileged enough to feel any strong connection towards my adoptive parents. I do feel a connection to my birth mum's side; however, with my noticeable absence from years of their lives it isn't strong enough to say I feel an overwhelming sense of belonging.
I have spent countless nights mulling over details of which I lack profusely in regards to my origin (especially from my biological father's side). As a result of this, I finally decided to contact my birth father at the age of fifteen. After extensively scouring the internet with a mere first name, last name and hometown (of which I guessed), I finally managed to stumble upon a mobile number. Unsure if this number even belonged to him, I sent a text; I hoped to simply receive confirmation towards the existence of the person who provided me with half of my genetic make up. I received a reply within minutes of contacting him, where I was assured that I had not been forgotten. I also discovered upon contacting him of two half sisters I have on his side (26 and 32), a revelation of which came as a rather large shock. In addition to this, I have also discovered from a cousin on my birth father's side that at age 18 he conceived a child of whom was adopted at birth. My 46 year old half brother, of whom I discovered I have no way of contacting after speaking with the NZ adoption services, has no idea I exist. When people now ask me if I have any siblings, my simple answer is "a younger brother". If I want a more elaborate conversation, however, you'll find my response is something along the lines of "six and counting".
There hasn't really been follow through since initially contacting my birth father in August 2016. I have sent multiple texts asking to meet him, where in turn I receive a similar excuse. I have now given up trying to initiate a meeting, where the extent of our contact consists of a birthday text to me each year with again the assurance that I have "not been forgotten". This situation does frustrate me, however, recently I have realised there is no desperate need to meet my birth father. After disappearing from my life when I was four years old, an absence of thirteen years is one I feel would restrict the salvaging of any relationship we may have.
To my friends who read this, you will know that I am open about my situation and am not hesitant to answer your questions to the best of my ability. You will not fully understand the nature of adoption, nor the feelings adoptees possess regarding their individual situations. That's ok. Regardless of your levels of understanding, I am incredibly thankful for your support and just simply being there. Please remember your willingness to listen is worth more than enough, where if I talk to you I do not at all expect advice; I understand the concept is difficult to depict - even I get confused! My friends are essentially the closest people to family I have, I thank you all with all my heart for your love and support over my seventeen years.
This is not to say though, that my adoption was an overall failure. To say an adoption only affects the adoptee is incorrect. It allowed my adoptive parents, who had been trying for a baby for several years, to finally welcome a child (legally) of their own into their lives. In addition to this, my birth mum can utilise her title of being a mother to me without the complications that would have arisen if my adoption had not occurred. It may not be an ideal situation for myself, however, a beneficial outcome for multiple people is more worthwhile than that for one person. It is hard to imagine what my life would be like if I wasn't adopted, where mostly I try not to think about it extensively. I am immensely grateful for the life I have now and will admit it is not an experience without difficulty. However, I appreciate this would be exactly the same for my potential life if I had not been adopted. Imperfection is necessary.
It is unclear whether I will be able to discover more about my adoption. What I am beginning to discover, however, is that being an adoptee is more than simply a label. Adoption is a concept of which is unique to every case. Generalisation of this concept would be incorrect and misleading. However, that is not to say that adoptees significantly differ from each other. It is very easy for an adoptee to fall into the trap of believing they are alone. Hence, I am constantly reminding myself of the ultimate privilege I possess in belonging to a community of open minded, relatable people of whom I feel connected to without needing to physically meet them. This community, combined with my friends and some birth family provide me with the closest feeling to belonging that I am capable of experiencing.
Adoption is hard; unique; complicated. However, with the constant love and support of those who I do connect with, I continue to be inspired everyday to appreciate my life after adoption.