From the earliest time I can remember, I knew I was adopted. I knew I had another mother and father somewhere out in the world that were not the same people I called Mom and Dad. I knew that I was born on February 1, 1983 in Fort Worth, Texas and relinquished at birth. I knew that my adoptive parents picked me up from the adoption agency and flew home with me on May 24, 1983. I knew the first picture of me was taken on that day as my head rested on my new mother’s shoulder, right next to the fresh pool of spit up on her bare shoulder. I knew that my adoptive mom passed away when I was only two years old, and it was just my dad and me from then on. I knew that I was different from other kids because I was adopted, didn’t have a mother, and didn’t have any brothers or sisters. I knew I was always the uncoordinated fat kid with four eyes and bad skin because the other kids often reminded me of those things. I knew that adults looked at me with pity in their eyes because I lost my mother. My adoptive mother, not my birth mother. I knew that adults told me I was lucky for having such a great dad that took me in and treated me like his own. I knew that my dad was the only person on Earth I ever felt completely comfortable around. I knew I liked going to play with my cousins at their homes even though I didn’t feel like I was really a part of their family. I knew my family never did anything to make me feel different; they couldn’t help that I didn’t look, sound, or act like them. I knew that other people thought I looked like my dad, but I didn’t believe them. I knew that I was involved in many group sports and activities, but I didn’t feel like I truly belonged to any team or group. I knew I dreamed of many scenarios where I saved the day and was the hero that everyone wanted to be around so I would finally feel like I fit in somewhere.
I did not know where I came from or my true ethnicity. I did not know a family medical history or possible medical issues to be concerned with growing up. I did not know if I had brothers and sisters somewhere out in the world or if I would ever find them. I did not know who I looked like, who I sounded like, or where my mannerisms came from. I did not know if I was creative by nature or a product of being an only child. I did not know if the woman I saw in the grocery store was my mother or the man at the mall my father. I did not know what my mother and father looked like or where my grandparents were from. I did not know why my parents didn’t keep me. I did not know why I wasn’t enough for them or what I did wrong. I did not know how anyone else could love me if my own birth parents didn’t. I did not know why I never felt like I truly fit in anywhere. I did not know why I felt like I should have been able to play instruments or sing but didn’t have any musical talents. I did not know why I could not have my accurate birth records even though they belong to me. I did not know why the adoption agency wouldn’t tell me my sister’s identity when I did discover I had an older sister. I did not know that adoptees are four times more likely to commit suicide, are more likely to have mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bi polar disorder or narcissistic personality disorder, are more likely to have learning disabilities, and are more likely to have colic as a baby. I did not know that I wasn’t alone in my feelings as an adoptee.
Now I know where I come from and who I look like. Now I know who my birth parents and grandparents and great grandparents are. Now I know where my creativity comes from and who I sound like. Now I know that I have three sisters and two brothers. Now I know that my birth mother wasn’t the mothering type but kept the letters and pictures I sent her. Now I know that my birth father never knew I existed. Now I know that I have another family that looks like me, sounds like me, acts like me, and loves me. Now I know that talking to other adoptees and birth parents is critical to understanding and making sense of my own experiences. Now I know that my rights are being violated because I don’t have the same access to accurate birth records that non-adopted adults have. Now I know my family medical history. Now I know why I always felt so out of place growing up. Now I know many ways my adoption still impacts my life. Now I know where I fit and where I belong. Now I know there is an entire community of adoptees out there supporting me through my journey merging my adoptive and birth identities and families together.
Now I know what I didn’t know growing up adopted.