My name is Kandice, and I’m a 29-year-old African American adoptee. I have an identical twin sister named Katrice, and we both were adopted at the age of 5 from a foster home. Life wasn’t always easy for my twin and I growing up in a big adopted family. I often felt lost in the crowd and felt like I was always on the outside looking in. I found this article to be hard to write especially since I have tons of mixed feelings about being adopted, but it’s my true adoption story. I should just start from the beginning.

My twin sister and I were born in the summer of June 1990 in New Jersey. My birth mother and father were in their early 30s when they had us. My birth mother was a crack addict, and my birth father was very abusive, going as far as punching my birth mother in the stomach while she was pregnant with us. My birth mother knew she wasn’t able to take care of us, so once we were born two months early, my twin and I were placed in the foster care system. That’s really all I know from that part of my life, and I’ve never tried to once contact or look for my birth parents.

Back to my adoption story. For four or so years, Katrice and I grew up in a loving foster home with Caucasian, Catholic foster parents who loved us like we were their own children. When Katrice was around 2, she was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and later, my foster parents found out her autism was severe. But despite her autism, I only saw my loving and funny twin, and we were always inseparable! I remember having multiple foster siblings, and I’m still in touch with most of them through social media. My sister and I were always accepted by my foster siblings, and we loved all of them like they were our forever siblings.

We were going to be adopted by another family before being placed in the family we have now, but I don’t remember all of the details, but I do remember the fact that it never worked out. I also remember vaguely that my sister and I were going to be split up, which if it happened, we both would have been devastated, and I would always wonder what would’ve happened to Katrice if we weren’t together. I do wish that my foster parents would have adopted my sister and me because they were truly the first mom and dad that I’ve ever known. We always had such fun! Going camping, to the beach, to amusement parks, even going to the movies were full of happiness, laughter, and love. Just being a young kid, playing with my twin, and I loved being around all of my foster siblings and family friends even though it was only for four short years.

Just a few days short of our 5th birthday, my sister and I were finally adopted by Caucasian parents, and today, I have 12 adopted siblings (3 adopted sisters and 9 adopted brothers)!

My adoptive parents have always wanted to adopt since my adopted mom couldn’t have children of her own. So they adopted children from Maryland, New Jersey, Florida, Delaware, and even overseas from South Korea! My adoptive parents found my twin and me on the Internet, and once we were adopted, we both became the first to be adopted from the Internet.

It’s a lot to take on growing up in a big family with different ethnicities and races, but for the most part, it’s been okay. As kids, we all had fun playing together, and with my very active imagination, I made sure every day was a blast with my eight younger siblings. And although some of my younger siblings developed faster and grew faster than I did, they still saw me as their big sister. Life was simple back then—being a carefree, creative, and quirky child. I never wanted the good times to end.

However as teens, the majority of my siblings were popular in school and always had friends; my older siblings moved out and started to have lives of their own. Meanwhile, I was more reserved and quiet, and although I did my best to remain kind to my family, I was struggling with so much on the inside. I dealt with major social anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem, while Katrice’s autism got harder on my adoptive parents. My adoptive parents tried their best to raise all 14 kids, but most of it was tough love, criticism, public humiliation, and it all had a negative impact on not just me, but a few of my adopted siblings as well.

I always felt like the black sheep. While my adopted sisters were into cheerleading like my adopted mom was, I was much more into writing, reading, and poetry. Writing has always been a huge outlet for me while dealing with the ups and downs of being adopted in a big family with a variety of issues. While a couple of my siblings dealt and some are still dealing with being deaf, ADD, ADHD, separation anxiety, OCD, and my twin being autistic, my needs have been pushed to the side, and I feel it’s because of the fact I stayed quiet and was used to being ignored. So while my adopted mom was busy taking my adopted sisters back and forth to cheer competitions, I was basically a built-in babysitter for my two younger brothers and Katrice with no regard for how I felt about it. In a sense, I felt lost in the shuffle of being in a huge family with different wants, needs, and aspirations.

There are so many good and bad things I could write about my adopted siblings, but although we’re all different and have our personal opinions and feelings, I hope they realize I’ll always care for each and every one of them. I haven’t been the best sister either and kept my distance for a while, but when it came down to it, I’d help them out in any way that I can. Even though some of my adopted siblings are very straightforward on how they feel, they always made sure I knew it, even if it was unintentionally hurtful. They made sure to have my and Katrice’s back, and I can’t thank them enough.

I never considered myself close to my adoptive mother at all. I’m not saying that she was the evil stepmother, but she always played favorites with my siblings, and it showed. She made sure most of my other adopted sisters and brothers had the best clothes, shoes, accessories, you name it. She also made sure her friends and family knew who was the best in her eyes, and without a doubt, that’s when my insecurities and self-doubts festered from. My adopted mom was supposed to be there for me. It seemed like every time I tried to get close to her and show her my writing, she’d scoff and say she was too busy with work or with my other siblings, and that hurt deeply every single time. She wasn’t all bad as far as mothers go, and I was just thankful Katrice and I were even adopted at all.

Even though I was going through a lot personally, one person I was always closest to was my adopted dad. He always stuck up for me when my siblings were going too far with their raucous jokes at my expense and when my adopted mom would apathetically push me aside because I didn’t want to do cheerleading like her and my adopted sisters. I felt like he was always an ally and an adult figure that would always have my back. Since being adopted, he always felt like a real authentic father figure, up until I turned 17. I had a social anxiety panic attack and walked into a grocery store and then lost $150, and when I told my adopted dad, he was verbally harsh with me. Another life-shattering moment when I was assaulted; I felt like he should’ve protected me from that, and that it should’ve never taken place. For two years, I felt so much anger and sadness that I didn’t think would go away until I moved out with my boyfriend, who is now my husband. To this day, I don’t see him as my father anymore, and as sad as it is, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget what he’s said and done.

Growing up, I was very conflicted about being adopted into a huge family; I often wondered how my birth parents were doing and how life would have turned out differently if my twin and I weren’t adopted. How life could have been if it were just my sister and me that were adopted into a family who made sure to make time for us and care for my severely autistic sister—if we both had adoptive parents who showed love and affection rather than criticism and frustrations; if I could have been with fewer siblings that were authentically empathetic for Katrice and me; if we had adoptive parents who accepted us for who we are and would never try to change us. I’m thankful that we were adopted; it’s just that most days I wish that we were adopted by a family who made sure to always be there for us and love us unconditionally.

All these complicated feelings aside, I’m very fortunate to have been adopted with my twin by my side. I never want to imagine a life without her, and I’m so happy to still see Katrice grow as a person. I’m thankful that my adoptive parents adopted us together. I couldn’t bear to see us split apart. I don’t think I would’ve survived my whole life without her. She was my driving force and helped me push through all the troubles and hardships I faced. Still to this day, I think of her when life gets hard. Growing up with her has given me so much strength and love to one day make the best life that I possibly can for her. I love my twin so much that nothing and nobody can come between our special twin bond.

Today, I have a very complicated relationship with my adoptive parents and some of my siblings. I still consider myself as the black sheep of the family and never quite see eye to eye with the majority of my family members. But no matter what we all are going through, I’ll always be there for them and love them all unconditionally. If they’re reading this, I’m not sorry that I wrote my story, and I have no regrets. To my adoptive parents, I still love you, and I hope this article opens your eyes to how I’ve been feeling for so long. To my adopted siblings, if any one of you are reading this, just know I’m here if you need me, although I’ll absolutely hear no end to what I wrote. If you’re upset at me after this, just try to have some empathy and walk in my shoes for a change. To my family’s friends, I’m writing about my true life experience as an adoptee, and I hope that this article doesn’t give too much of a bad impression of my adopted family.

I believe adoption is one of the best things you can do for children that biologically aren’t yours as long as you have enough love, patience, the ability to sacrifice your own wants and needs for them and accept them for the unique individual that they are. I don’t regret being adopted because I wouldn’t be the woman and writer I am today if it wasn’t for my big adopted family. I thank you for whoever is reading my story, and I’m glad to have a website to openly share my story on.