Day in and day out adoptees live their lives just like everyone else. Most days I don’t even think about being adopted. It is a small part of who I am, not something that defines me. I don’t feel like I am different because I am adopted. Sometimes though, people say or do things that make adoptees feel excluded. I don’t think it’s always intentional, but these stigmas do exist. Maybe through education about adoption we will one day see an end to this.
“Oh, I’m Sorry.”
For as long as I can remember, anytime it came up that I was adopted, whoever I was talking to would always come back with, “Oh, I’m sorry.” My first immediate thought was, “I’m not.” It was as if somehow being adopted was a negative thing. I’m not sure if people thought I had been abandoned by my parents or if it was assumed I had bounced around in foster care first. I never thought of my adoption as my biological parents not wanting me, but more that adoptive parents really, really wanted me. The act of adoption is always a good thing. It means you are getting a family to take care of you when another one couldn’t.
“Do You Know Who Your Real Parents Are?”
This almost always directly follows, “Oh, I’m sorry.” My immediate thought was, “As opposed to my fake ones?” My adoptive parents are my real parents. They were real at the hospital where I was born. They were real at the church where I was christened. They were real by my side when I had my tonsils removed. They were real for all the cooked dinners and help with homework. They are real just as much as your parents. Once I stepped over their ignorance and corrected “real” to “biological” I would answer, “No.” I didn’t have any desire to find my birth family back then. My life was completely fulfilled. That’s not to say that if I had wanted to find them, it would have been because I was unfulfilled. As an adult, having found them, I still have no real and fake parents or first and second parents. I don’t feel like one is more or better. Now I have two moms and two dads. There are a multitude of reasons why an adoptee would or wouldn’t choose to find biological family. All of those reasons are personal.
“Your Parents Didn’t Want You.”
It’s no secret that kids can be mean-spirited. While I never heard this one directly, my older sister heard it from our cousin when they were little. She responded with, “My mom and dad chose me, yours got stuck with whatever came out!” There are many reasons children are placed for adoption. You can’t assume what someone else went through. On this, I am guilty myself. In my non-id paperwork it listed my mom as being approximately 25 years old when I was born. I wrongly assumed I must have been the product of an affair. Why else would a grown woman have placed her child for adoption? I was way off. Not only were my parents in a committed relationship, but they went on to get married and have more children. It just wasn’t the right time for them to have me, so they found a family who was ready for me. Never assume anything.
Families Look Alike.
My adoptive parents are Scotch-Irish and Italian. My older adopted sister is Hispanic. I am English-Irish and Welsh. My younger adopted sister is biracial. I heard all throughout my childhood how much I looked like my mom. That of course reminded me that she was not, in fact, my biological mom. I’m sure it felt the same way to my sisters when others pointed out that they didn’t look like her at all. It wasn’t a big issue for me, but it was annoying and unnecessary. Can’t everyone just keep their comments to themselves? Who you do or don’t look like has no bearing on who you call family.
The Pages Are Incomplete.
When you go see a new doctor, the last section of the new patient packet is dedicated to your family medical history. Sometimes my mom would leave that portion blank and inform the doctor once we got into a room that I was adopted. Other times she would be scribbling away and I would touch her arm to get her attention. As she looked up at me I would see it click, and she would start scratching out her own family’s medical history she was putting down as mine. Now that I am the one filling out the forms, I put a large slash across those pages and write “ADOPTED” across the line. I always felt like I belonged with the family that I grew up with. I always felt confident in my own skin. Doctor’s offices though, are the only places to ever make me feel incomplete.