Ten Things That I Wish My Parents Knew, Had Told Me, or Done Differently Regarding My Adoption

1. I always did feel a little “gyped” by the whole being adopted thing, but not for a single moment did I blame you!

2.I wish you hadn’t kept on telling me that my being adopted was “nobody’s business”. Even at an early age, that had that same feeling of “ickyness” that went with not telling people about other stuff the family was sort of embarrassed about.

3.It really upset me that the cousins seemed so obsessed with it. When we visited, it seemed like it was all they ever wanted to talk about. I always felt like I belonged when they arrived, but not so much by the time they left.

4. It really upset me when you were talking quietly with other adults (including my aunties) and when I walked in you would stop talking and send me out of the room. Granted, you certainly weren’t always talking about me or the adoption; but sometimes you were. By the time I was five, right or wrong, it always crossed my mind that you were probably talking about my adoption. After all, it was the biggest and most consistent secret our family had. At that age, I was unaware of the myriad other things adults often talked about in hushed tones.

5.When we met people for the first time, it was always awkward when they would scan us and comment about “how much we all looked alike” (‘cause we didn’t). In fact, I wonder if this was the very reason they were broaching the whole issue of family resemblance in the first place. Inevitably they would pick out a single feature that they thought looked consistent (generally eyes) and would make some gratuitous comment to that effect. You shouldn’t have played along with that because it felt very much like a lie (See #2). Well that’s wrong actually, it was a lie. It was the very thing that you kept on telling me was a sin and offended God (we were very Catholic). From a little boy’s perspective, I realized early that the secret must have been VERY important for my otherwise perfect and sinless parents to lie about. In retrospect, I think it would have been better if you had just thrown your heads back, laughed and changed the subject. I would have liked if you just said, “Yes, he has nice eyes, thank you.”

6.It would have been nice if you had talked to me more about my birth parents. Eventually when I found out that you knew more than what you had told me (in my late 20’s) and that you even had documents reflecting my first name (I had always wondered about that small locked metal box) I felt a little betrayed as though you didn’t trust me with the secret. Up until this point, I had always thought of the secret as being mine, but this really did cause me to wonder if the secret really wasn’t yours. And one that you apparently even kept from me. It didn’t change how much I loved and appreciated both of you…but I was disappointed. For some reason, even when I was very little, I wanted to be proud of my birthparents who I sensed were somehow under the same adoption cloud that I was. It was obvious they had done something “wrong”, but I wanted them to be good beautiful people. I can’t explain why.

7. It’s a shame that you raised me to be an “adopted person”. I always told people “I am adopted” or referred to myself as an adopted person. Even to me this seemed like an integral part of my identity as opposed to an isolated event in my life over which I had no control. People don’t say, “I’m a Cesarean Section” or “I am a Breach”. Those sorts of things are simply details of a past event. They might make interesting historic information but don’t serve to define the individual from cradle to grave. I try hard now to say “I was adopted” and understand in my heart that it describes a past, if not important event, but really should have nothing to do with who I am.

8.I have always felt that I am missing pieces. This feeling has only gotten worse as I got older. Please don’t make me feel that I am betraying you because I feel this way. Do you know how significant it would be if you had offered to help me with this?

9.I always thought about my birth parents on my birthdays. Why do you think it was the only day of the year that I checked the “Personals” in the classified section of the newspaper.

10.I love you. I always found it humorous, but also a little distressing, that you could even imagine that you could possibly lose me to my bio-family. It’s even hard for me now to imagine how you could ever think that was even a remote possible. What were you thinking?

JMP ’15

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