ADOPTION ISN’T A DIRTY WORD – ADVICE FROM AN ADOPTEE

For me, acceptance was blue eyes. Acceptance was long curly eyelashes, pin straight hair, and looking like a clone of a sibling. Coincidentally, these things never came, and they haunted me at family reunions and birthday parties. Me, with my curly brown hair, and even darker brown eyes. Me, the only one besides my brother who didn’t share the same blood.  I was the only one who seemed to care.

I think about my family’s eyes often. Parts of my childhood consisted of admiring my uncles, aunts, and cousins, beautiful blue eyes and silky straight hair. I would go home and stare at my brown, (almost black) eyes in the mirror, and will them to turn blue. I spent hours brushing my hair trying to get it straight, every time creating a Hermione Granger look instead of the flawless flow of my family.

Every year at family events I felt a creeping sadness. I knew I was loved. I knew hardly anyone saw me different. I would tell my mom, but she saw it made me miserable, so we agreed not to talk about it until I would bring it up. I would beg for information about Amber and Lou, my birth parents. I would feel lonesome for the knowledge I wasn’t legally allowed to have until I turned eighteen. My mom and I would stay up at night while I mourned feeling so given up on. Of course, I loved my mom. I knew she loved me more than anything. I was just starving for the reason of “why”.  Why would Amber have a child and think it was okay to leave it? I didn’t understand how that was fair to me. I cursed God for not making me look like my mom and dad, so I could have looked in the mirror and seen a family.

Eventually I learned to not let the word “adoption” eat away at me. The waiting period was almost over; I was almost eighteen. When I turned eighteen I would be given the option to pursue meeting my biological parents. I was afraid. Did I want this? What if they had more kids? What if I looked like them? Would this change things? Would this hurt my parents? What if they still don’t want me? I knew that if my worst fears came true I had a family who did love me and want me.

After a very emotional, overwhelming, lonely, and exhausting (to say the least) few months of getting to know my biological mom and biological aunt I broke down and wept to my mom asking her to intervene. It was too much. They were putting unfair expectations on me and oversharing details of their lives that I didn’t need to know. My bio mom confessed that she was moving cities for a new boyfriend and leaving my 9 year old half sister with her parents. She was abandoning another child.

I was so heart broken, but at the same time I was relieved.  That night I fell asleep in peace for the first time in months.

When I think back to the day Amber told me she was leaving her other daughter and moving to Pittsburgh, I realized I had my answer, my “why”.  My abandonment issues aren’t going anywhere, but my adoption finally made sense. I finally understood the thing that brought me the most sadness, but I realized that my greatest gift was being given away.

I may not share the same eye color or straight hair as my family, but they are just that: my family. I am fully accepted and know they aren’t going anywhere.

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