I enjoy telling my story, I always have. Coming out of the fog hasn’t changed that at all. What has changed is maybe how I tell it. I am more open, more honest, and more real. If you have read my previous posts, you know what I mean. Where I used to brush over adoption as a pretty neutral feature of my life, I now engage in conversation about what that means with anyone from close family, to perfect strangers. Some people are ready to hear what I have to say. Some people are not. Because with telling my story honestly comes mentioning the struggles, internal emotional rollercoasters, and dilemmas that adoptees go through, our entire lives. Whether someone has had a good or bad adoption experience and life, I think it’s important to know that the following are things that most likely every adoptee you come in contact with, has felt or experienced to some degree, but may not have told anyone. We keep these things to ourselves. And when we tentatively share them, more often than not, they are shut down by responses like “But look at where you are today.” “Aren’t you happy you were adopted though?” “Where would you have been if you wouldn’t have been adopted?” and the likes. In a separate blog post I will be going through some of these, and give an adoptees response to them. For now, I just want to share with you, some thoughts, emotions and things adoptees experience that people might not know, might not want to know or might have a hard time accepting…
One of the most essential features in my life has been a constant presence of contradicting feelings, contradicting situations and contradicting messages. The woman who created me, carried me and gave birth to me, is a woman I know absolutely NOTHING about. The woman I call mom is a woman to whom I am not connected in any, other than by a signature on a piece of paper. And that is not my signature. I feel like I am a contradiction as a person myself, with two opposite personalities in the same body. I am a confident, happy, and loud-spoken extrovert, just as much as I am a hesitant, insecure, and self-doubting introvert. Most days I am not sure which one is the real me. I have always been happy in my life, loved the opportunities I have had, and never wished my adoption away, and yet, there has always been something missing, and I have always wondered what the alternative would have looked like.
I was born into one family, where I would then presumably belong. I was adopted into another family where I was told I belong. Having the option of two families, I instead don’t feel like I belong fully in either. The same goes for belonging in a place or another. I was born in one country, but don’t feel like I have the right to claim it as my own. I grew up in one country that I don’t want to exclusively claim as mine. I created a life in a third country, where I am not fully belonging yet. I can belong anywhere partially, and nowhere fully. While that sounds great, it is also difficult to feel unrooted and unanchored as I go through life. Unlike the family that moves around a lot, even between countries, or the children growing up in mixed background households, I did not have any bond to anything from my past. I was the first in line of my genetic make-up. I am reminded of this at any encounter with the medical field. I can’t tell you my medical history. I have no information about it.
The inability to feel connected to the only family I know created a guilt in me that I have lived with for as long as I can remember. Not being able to feel belonging, wanting to move away, and needing to distance myself from my family came with mountains of guilt. Cringing when my adoptive mother would say that I was so “independent”, “reliable” and “confident” made me feel guilty, not understanding that these compliments were actually direct proof that she did not know what was going on inside of me. Feeling that if I was to say something, I would risk shattering my parents’ dream of a happy family. Yet not being able to turn those emotions off made me feel guilty.
Who would you trust, if the one person who is supposed to protect you, be there for you and care for you, abandon you? In the mind of the child who does not yet understand the situation logically, who does not have the language to rationalize and who does not know what actually happened, what other explanation is there, on an emotional level than your mother has abandoned you? How do you trust after that? Trust after that, has to be earned, carefully, gently and over time. I built a protective wall around myself that has been there for as long as I can remember. My parents could not penetrate it. My adoptive brother could not make it through. Even the closest of my friends did not make it to the other side of that wall. It became a lonely place to be at times, but the alternative was too scary. To trust someone, anyone, when the one person who should have been there for me, was not when I needed her the most.
Combine all of the above and how would you not feel conflicted and confused? All of the above have been constantly present in my life, as far back as I can remember. I know I am not alone in this confusion. Just the fact alone that so many of us do not know our origin. As a domestic adoptee, you might not have your original birth certificate, which blocks access to the real information about who and where you come from. As an international adoptee, your story might be anything from completely true, to a complete lie depending on the time and country you are adopted from, and you might have no shot at ever finding out who you came from. What is the biggest possible source of confusion? Could it be not knowing who you are, where you come from, and how your life started?
These are truths many adoptees live with, and that many people don’t know, don’t want to know, or are not ready to accept…
I thank you from the bottom of my heart, for spending this time with me, reading my story.
If you would like to share your story, I would love to connect with you and help you share it here alongside mine.
Own your story, share your story, write your story.
All my love to all of you.
– Amanda Medina
PS. We are all in this together!