I always knew I was adopted.
There was no way to hide that blatant fact with two white parents and siblings who looked nothing like me. I don’t remember, though, the specific conversation I had with my parents when they spelled it all out for me—what adoption meant or why they chose that option. Somehow, I’ve always known.
It wasn’t a specific moment that remains burned into my memory, because my entire life was built on the truth that I was adopted and, as I saw it, stuck in an upbringing that didn’t fit who I truly was.
I created the story that would breathe life into my identity—I chose the negative emotions I felt for years that I was unable to cope with and unable to fully explain to build a foundation for my miserable existence.
I was pissed off, first, because I desperately wanted to fit in—to have something in common with someone, anyone around me. I took specific offense to the perception I created that focused on being abandoned as a small child, despite what the circumstances truly were. I had no desire to engage in getting to know my birth mother, although the option was always available as an adult, and pushed those who wanted to be close to me as far away as humanly possible. I was misdiagnosed with attachment disorder in my early twenties, giving more misplaced value to being adopted—and an added, unnecessary degree of confusion.
I chose men who mimicked that experience—offering little more than a warm body when it was convenient for them, and them alone. I wanted everyone to love me, and gave up whatever I felt was required for that affection to be reciprocated. I had the idea that I needed to cling to whatever was being presented in any given moment, whether it was safe/healthy/appropriate for me or not.
Most of the time, it was none of those things.
I was filled with hate toward most people and felt as though the world was against me in a very real way.
It was my fate to be let go without hesitation and without a valid reason, and my life mirrored that perception. Relationships—those men—came and went after my divorce, and I felt no remorse for being unfaithful/shut off/bitter/harsh in those ill-matched partnerships. I fell the hardest for those who were the most unavailable—somehow it hurt less in those moments, but stayed with me for years after.
They were bound to leave anyway, right?
In addition to being tragically furious about being abandoned as a small child, I eventually developed a deep angst toward my adoptive parents. They were nothing less than supportive through each and every one of my life lessons—my failures—but I could not help but hate them for bringing our family to such a culturally bare town. They gave each of us all they could, but I could not bring myself to stop questioning their intent.
How were any of us to thrive in this great big world if we knew only one way, one path, one color?
I didn’t understand it, so ran far away from what they instilled in me as a child. For a time, I am positive, they had no idea who I was.
It was not until a few years ago that I realized I was moving past it all. I had let go of the resentment I allowed to build up toward my parents and had started to look inward about my anger toward my birth parents—where it came from and why I had held on to it for so long. My birth mother and I were friends on the almighty Facebook, and I had given some thought to meeting her. That was a big step for me and continues to be.
With professional help, I had been able to talk through some of my anger, which lead to my depression (the correct diagnosis) and started to correct my thinking in regard to relationships and what I deserved as someone’s partner.
But, it was at a dinner out with my parents over a brief visit home that I was reminded of where I came from.
We sat in a quiet restaurant, both my mother and father sitting across from me waiting for our server to take our order. I was fresh off a late afternoon flight and exhausted to say the least. Our conversation was the same as any other trip home—work, relationship, school. All was well with them and all was the same with me. We laughed, as we always did, at my dad’s dorky jokes, our stomachs stuffed with good food and our souls filled to the brim with love.
Our server circled back around to gather the empty plates, and asked a question I had not heard in all my time on the East Coast: “This was on separate checks, right?”
No, sweetheart. I’m their daughter…
She ran to the back to get our check, unphased, and seemingly annoyed at my response. Where the hell were we that a multiracial family, obviously operating as one unit could not enjoy and subsequently pay for a meal together?.
And then it hit me—I was home.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons