FELLOW ADOPTEE DORIANA SHARES HER ADOPTION STORY WITH YOU, IN HER OWN WORDS. A SELF-PUBLISHED WRITER, POET, AND ARTIST, SHE USES POETRY TO SHINE A LIGHT ON THE EXPERIENCE, THE QUESTIONS, THE FEELINGS, AND THE REALITY OF HER OWN ADOPTION STORY, ONE THAT MANY OF US FELLOW ADOPTEES SHARE WITH HER… THE FOLLOWING IS TAKEN FROM HER BOOK (LINK AT THE BOTTOM) THAT IS A COLLECTION OF POEMS SHE WROTE DURING HER RETURN TO PUERTO RICO TO MEET HER FIRST MOTHER…
“My name is Doriana Gabrielle Diaz,
When I was born, my birth mother gave me a name: Gabriella Diaz. The women who adopted me chose a new name for me when I was placed in their arms: Doriana Markovitz. The change of a child’s name is common in adoptions. In the last year, I legally changed my name to Doriana Gabrielle Diaz, to reclaim the name my birth mother chose for me, to reclaim my heritage, and to reclaim Puerto Rico as my place of origin. Knowing your own name is power. It is being able to look at a map and point to the place on earth your people originated from. I have identified myself by newly connecting my name to the woman who birthed me. In this process, I have begun to redefine myself and my place in the world as an adopted person.
The following is a poem from my book (page 43) Day 4 July 10th, 2018
Mami calls me Gabriella
She sucks her teeth sweet,
And folds her tongue into
her throat like a quilt.
She smiles into my eyes.
She says it likes she’s never
known me as anything else.
Not many people discuss adoption. Adoptees rarely do in public, adopted parents keep it to themselves, and birth mothers and fathers often times suppress their stories and pretend it didn’t happen. I was in that silent place, I am not any longer. That is why I am here to tell you how I made it out of the fog and began to process my adoption story. It is important to note that this process looks and feels different for every adopted person. I am speaking only from the “I” perspective. My adoption story is mine and no one else’s. I am not here to speak for all adoptees, or to speak for all transracial adoptees. I am here only to speak my own truth.
In this story, I will outline my process, reflections and self-discovery starting from childhood to my recent reunion with my birth mother and birth family in Puerto Rico. Throughout this story, I will also be reading poems from my book to further my explanations.
I was raised by many mothers, many women have poured themselves into me. I am the product of the multi-dimensionality of womanhood. I have only ever known the struggle and hardship, while also the joy and power that women can offer to one another and their children. But I am also motherless because there is a woman out there who I did not know, but whose body was my first home. I knew this from the time I could understand that the women who adopted me did not look like me. Their skin does not look like mine, their hair does not feel like mine, and their bodies are not shaped like mine. Even though I knew this, I felt safe inside that truth.
When I was a child, my parents tried to explain my adoption to me. When they tried the first time, I didn’t get it. I was maybe four or five. When they explained it again, I didn’t want to understand. I might have been nine or ten. The more they tried to tell me, the less I wanted to know.
Now I understand there is not a moment when I’m not an adoptee. When I buy groceries, I am an adoptee. When I go to the doctor, I am an adoptee. I hug my sisters as an adoptee, I brush my teeth as an adoptee. I cannot choose not to be an adoptee. There is no end to it, just like there is no end to being someone’s child.
My birth mother was my first love and my first heartbreak. I was born and then I was surrendered and throughout my life, I have been in pain. When I met her I thought my story would change. I thought the loss I carry would disappear. My trip to Puerto Rico did not change that. But it did teach me that the hole that was left inside me from the separation is where my power resides, and that power is strong and unwavering. It cannot be broken and it cannot be tamed.
I am a miracle child.
(pg 38), Day 4, July 10th, 2018
I got out of the shower. Mama dried me off, as she wiped my back and zipped my dress she said, “this is where you didn’t grow up”
I don’t know these mountains.
I don’t know the ways they bend and fold into the sun.
I don’t know the language they speak here.
I don’t know how to curl my tongue to make the smooth melodies.
I don’t know how to eat a guava, every time I try, the seeds end up in the crevices between my teeth.
I don’t know the sound of the tropical breeze, the whistling is unfamiliar to me.
I don’t know hours of skipping barefoot in acres of lush vegetation.
I don’ t know passionfruit or morning glory.
I don’t know about the breaks in Leo’s fence and the shortcuts through the woods that lead to the next barrio.
I don’t know the sound of light falling between my legs.
I don’t know Javier, his shirt always stained yellow with sweat, who lives next-door with three dogs and no wife or children.
I know nothing of this place, and yet, I am still here pretending to know.
I got on the plane back to the states unaware of how to exist as the woman I was when I landed on the island a week prior. I know now that I am my birth mother’s daughter. As an adoptee, I know about what it means to mourn more than most do. I mourn the girl I could have been, I mourn my missing mother, and I mourn the life I’ll never live. There’s no way to become who I would have been if I hadn’t been adopted. Puerto Rico does not belong to me in the ways that it could or in the ways I wish it did, but it offered me transformative experiences that I will hold in my heart for the rest of my life.
(page 62) Day 7, July 13th, 2018
I saw a mama carrying a brown baby on her back,
in the waves.
there was a black family,
with lots of skin,
laying in the sand.
a man on the beach was sharpening his machete,
breaking open pounds of coconuts with
one well-placed cut.
there were flamboyant trees with
orange flowers covering the sky.
the last thing I saw was
bright specks of light dancing
Puerto Rico taught me that I am not a victim. I was, something terrible happened to me, but I am no longer the victim of that circumstance. The detachment that I had spent so much of my life feeling can finally be explained…
I am native to nowhere, no place, and no person. I am only native to this skin that contains me, these bones that hold me up, these hands, these feet, and this mind that never rests. I am native to this heart.
On July 19th, 1998 I was born into a decision in which I had no choice. But today, and every day moving forward I have a choice.
I choose to love despite the fear.
I choose to own my life.
I chose to face my grief, to process it, and to learn how to live with all that I have lost.
I choose to be the answers to my own prayers.
I choose which places I can call home.
I choose to heal myself on my own terms and at my own pace.
I choose to claim those ancestors who chose not to claim me.
I choose how to love myself.
I choose to speak when words are needed and to share the silence when they are not.
I choose the name I use.
I choose who to share myself with.
I choose to fight for children to know their mothers and fathers.
I choose truth.”
Doriana Gabrielle Diaz
born in Puerto Rico
adopted to the United States
Doriana Gabrielle Diaz is a transracial adoptee, poet, self-published writer, and artist.
You can find her work via the following links: