A Piece of My Writing: Vulnerability

We respond differently to the trauma of separation from our first mothers. A year ago, I wrote a piece on vulnerability. I have always struggled with it. I was starting to see the potential connection between the two. A year later, knowing so much more about it all, I can say that I was definitely on to something…

 

Let’s talk about vulnerability.

How many of you struggle with this?

I find it very difficult to be vulnerable or show any kind of weakness.

I have only ever cried willingly in front of one person when sad or hurt.

I have ever only opened up fully to one person about issues that have affected me or bothered me, from issues in my family growing up.

I have ended numerous friendships for different B.S. reasons once they got to a certain point of closeness, rather than let them get too close to where I would have to really be myself – because most of the time I’m not sure who that even is.

I tend to flight rather than fight when things get tough around me, as in breaking an engagement when things were getting hectic and life was stressing me out.

I love the idea of starting over in a new place where nobody knows me and I can decide who to be. Until I build friendships and things get settled and it’s time to start letting people in.

There is nothing I hate more than having to admit to being wrong. As if I’m afraid that by admitting to being wrong, or having made a mistake, I become less loveable, less acceptable in the eyes of the person I apologize to.

And the slightest hint of someone making fun of me, even when done lovingly, infuriates me. I wish I could laugh at myself more, but again, it’s tied to being vulnerable, which I really struggle with.

Even writing this, knowing I will post it is hard for me…

Could it be that being abandoned as a baby, which is what my adoption papers say I was, has traumatized me to the point of being afraid to let people in? I was found by a woman in the street, abandoned, and she kept me for a month and when she couldn’t find my mother she brought me to the police. They say that even as babies being abandoned can traumatize us. I’ve never done much to explore this because I always pushed the idea to the side, calling myself the success story of adoption. Exploring any potential negative effects of my background would mean having to be open to vulnerability. And I never have been. I’m only now starting to invite the idea into my mind…

 

Written by

Amanda Medina

December 1st, 2017

 

NAAM 2018 – THE LAST DAY OF THE MONTH, THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!

THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!!!

National Awareness Month 2018 is coming to an end today. It has been a month full of emotions and insight. Some challenging, some heartbreaking, some inspiring, some validating, and some comforting.

Thank you,

to those who have read, liked, commented on, shared, and followed my blog and social media posts this month.

to those who have reached out in response to the posts, stories, and writings this month.

to those who have tagged, mentioned or shone a light on my blog and posts this month.

to anyone who has given any time to my blog and my posts this month.

AND THE WARMEST OF THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART AND A SPECIAL MESSAGE OF APPRECIATION TO,

Johanna, your words on identity that rings true for so many adoptees were the perfect way to kick off the month that would be all about sharing adoptees’ voices and stories in their words. You are much braver than you give yourself credit, and the world will be a better place for adoptees thanks to you and your courage. I appreciate you so much!

Kristen, fellow Colombian adoptee and cousin of mine. Words cannot describe how happy I am that you have let me share your story on the blog. Your strength in being yourself is inspiring. I love that you got to reunite with your family and that the timing worked out for you to share your story just as you returned from your trip back home to Colombia. Sending you so much love prima!

Tracy, thank you for sharing your adoption story. Yours is a strong voice in the adoptee community and I am honored that you let me share your story on my blog. A domestic adoption with its own nuances of struggle, your story rings true for many adoptees. I appreciate what you do, how you work to spread awareness and hope you keep pushing forward. You are a strong and important voice in the community!

Florencia, I love how you and I have connected over the past couple of months and thank you for sharing your adoption story on the blog. I admire the work you do, and how you use your background in psychology to advocate for adoptees and draw attention to the need for an honest and open conversation, including all sides of adoption. The peace you have found shines through in your writing. You are an inspiration for sure!

Michael, when I saw you come into the adoptee community in the group for Colombian adoptees the questions you posted stood out to me. A few months later I am beyond happy to call you my friend and universal brother. I have seen you grow in your adoptee identity and I feel fortunate to have been able to connect with you. I am so glad you shared your story on my blog as it has a unique and heartbreaking feature. I am always here for you hermano!

Yennifer, I loved how you shared your story. Bringing to light what reunion can look like. The feeling of being home, even in a place you didn’t grow up in, but because that is where your life started. That is where your family is. The work you do in the adoptee community, giving the mothers a voice and a face through your photography project No Mother No Child, and the work you do with organizations in Europe and Colombia is inspiring and motivating for me who am just beginning. Thank you. I am so happy to have connected with you!

Julie, thank you so much for using your voice to share your story on my blog. Yours is a story with features so many transnational adoptees can relate to. I appreciate your work so much and I can’t wait to read your book!

Frances, I saved your story to the end. Your writing is so heartfelt and when your memoir releases I will be lined up to buy and read it. You capture the emotions of your story so well, and my heart goes out to you. I cannot thank you enough for your courage.  I am beyond honored for the confidence of sharing your story on my blog!

I have so much love and appreciation for all of you, each and every one of you!

This month was full of ups and downs. Some days I felt very inspired and motivated. Other days my heart was breaking over and over again. At one point, I had to take a break from it all because I reached emotional exhaustion. I have found strength in a whole community of fellow adoptees over and over again. I am starting to feel like I am finding my place in the world in the work to change the adoption narrative to one that includes the voices of adoptees. This month is on its last day, but my motivation, my vision and my determination are just taking shape…I have a feeling this ride is just beginning!

I thank you from the bottom of my heart, for spending this time with me, reading my words and those of my fellow adoptees this month.

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!

#NAAM2018 ADOPTION STORIES: Frances Rove, born in the U.S., adopted in the U.S. – late discoverer adoptee

FELLOW ADOPTEE FRANCES TELLS YOU HER ADOPTION STORY IN HER OWN WORDS. AS PART OF A MEMOIR SHE IS WORKING ON, HER STORY IS UNIQUE IN THE WAY SHE WRITES AND TELLS IT. SHE IS ONE MORE VOICE WHO CAN SHARE THE EFFECTS OF ADOPTION ON THE ADOPTEE. SHE IS ONE OF MANY WHO, GROWING UP DIDN’T KNOW SHE WAS ADOPTED…

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“THE MYSTERY OF ME, excerpt from a memoir in progress

Frances A. Rove

I thought I knew who I was until I discovered the poems. I found two poems in my deceased mother’s puzzle box and, for the first time, I felt in my DNA that I had been adopted.

Despite my mother’s and my periodic arguments and her angry retreats into silence, I had tried to mirror her perfectly as she required. It had been hard to tell where she ended and I began.  The adoption revelation unraveled my identity. Who was I if not her “mini-me”? She had said that she and my father tried to have children throughout their twenty-year marriage. She said I was her miracle baby born just as she went through menopause.  If she kept my adoption from me, what was the truth?  Was I really born in Texas?  Was I really forty-two? So much time had passed, could I find my original birth and adoption records?

I phoned my cousin Sandy to confirm my intuition about the poems’ meaning. I was almost twenty years younger than Sandy, so we weren’t close, but she probably remembered when I joined the family.

My mother had told me that she lavished gifts on Sandy before my birth. They always joked and interacted without expectations like Mom and I never could. I admit I was jealous. They’d been more alike than my mother and I. Now I thought maybe they shared a gene for light-heartedness that I lacked.

I phoned and asked Sandy to lunch. She responded as if I’d invited her to the running of the bulls at Pamplona.

“Us? Lunch? Why?”

“My mother hid two poems about adoption, ” I said.

Sandy chuckled. “Well, it’s about time you knew!”

I swallowed hard as an earthquake cracked my fragile foundation as if a hand reached back and changed my past like a naughty time traveler.

The next day, Sandy arrived at the restaurant carrying a faded tote bag. We ordered, and I described the puzzle box and the poems. She laughed and looked out the window.

“That sounds like your mother, playful to the end and beyond. She loved a mystery.”

My mother had been “playful” with my identity. It was hard to believe she had lied to me for so long about something so important.  I looked away.  I didn’t want to alienate Sandy by venting my growing irritation.  She might have more information.

“Everyone knew you were adopted, but we were afraid to tell you,” Sandy said.

I felt like I’d been slapped. “Everyone knew?” I whispered.

Sandy unrolled the silverware from the napkin and said, “Both sides of the family knew, but I don’t know the details. Your parents brought you home from Texas and tried to pass you off as their own child.”

I glared at her, suddenly wanting to kill the messenger. My face smoldered with embarrassment for my parents and myself. I couldn’t believe I had discovered this, decades too late.

Sandy continued, “You looked nothing like your green-eyed mother or your swarthy, Italian father with your reddish hair, fair skin, and blue eyes.”

I clenched my jaw, willing myself to sound composed despite my shock and anger.

“Why didn’t anyone tell me?” I asked.

“You know better than I do, your mother had a temper. No one was willing to risk her wrath, not even your father, even if we disagreed with her.”

“People thought my mother was wrong and still didn’t tell me?  Daddy wanted to tell me?” I still thought of my father the way I had when he died when I was eight.  My voice was intense and shrill. I’d forgotten where I was.

“Franny, calm down. It wasn’t our place. Your parents were both forty-six when you were born out of town. We let your mother have her fantasy.”

I wondered why was I merely a prop in her fantasy, not a real person worthy of respect?

“I always thought the whole family hated me because there was something wrong with me! Now I find out there was this secret, this wall, I felt between us.”  I was almost shouting.

Sandy turned to see if we were drawing attention.

I gritted my teeth and said, “No wonder I felt like I had no real family except my mother.”

“I think your mother wanted to keep you to herself and to keep everyone at arm’s length so you wouldn’t discover the adoption,” Sandy said.

“And what about after she died? It’s been two years! No one could tell me then?”  I got out of my chair. “I’m leaving. I’ll pay the check.”

“Wait, Franny. Your mother gave me this bag. Your baby bracelet from the hospital is in the front pocket.”

Bewildered, I took the bag and looked inside. Betrayal burned all the way down my body. “What are you doing with these?”  I thought the photo albums and baby book were in storage. “I’ve never seen a baby bracelet.” The bag held a treasure trove of my history.

Sandy shrugged and said, “Your mother just told me to give it to you after she died.“

I was steaming about the lies and being the butt of family gossip all my life. “When were you going to give me these if I hadn’t called you?”

Sandy stared at me and didn’t respond.

I started crying before I reached my car.  I thought of all the conversations I’d never had.  Would my father have told me the truth and helped me to set boundaries with my mother?  My mind flashed through the years I’d felt isolated and inferior.

In the car, I examined the bracelet of tiny pink and white beads that spelled our last name, “R-O-V-E.” It barely fit around two fingers.

I wondered how I could be adopted but a Rove at birth.  It would be years before I would untangle the lies and adoption records and have the emotional strength to search for my birth family.  Eventually, I’d uncover numerous other family secrets.

Tears blinded me as I tucked the bracelet back into the bag. I started the car and sat for a moment trying to get back into my body.

I drove home with the heater on as a chilly wind blew, but I felt I’d never get warm again. Leaves drifted off the trees. They were naked to face the coming winter storms.”

Written by

Rances Rove

Born in the U.S.

Adopted in the U.S.

The above is part of a larger work Frances is working on, her memoirs.

She is an advocate for mental health and animal causes.

My Adoption Story part 7: My Colombian Passport and My Full Adoption File Directly From Colombia…

 

Recently I started feeling as though I was running on empty. I took a few days off from the blog and the social media accounts accompanying the blog, to spend more time with family and enjoy Thanksgiving. All the constant feed of adoption related things made me feel absolutely, emotionally exhausted. Ironically enough, while I took a few days off from social media, I had several things happen in real life that are in direct connection to my adoption.

My adoptive mother came to visit and spend Thanksgiving with me and the family. It has become somewhat of a tradition that she flies in from Sweden to spend the holiday with us. This year she brought something for me. My Colombian passport, my adoption papers in original, and the original page of the newspaper where my picture was published in an attempt to locate any family of mine in Medellin. What do these things mean to me? The passport means I can reclaim my Colombian citizenship if I wish to do so one day. It has my Colombian last name in it, and it is the ultimate connection, and tangible proof that I was at one point in my life part of the Colombian country and society. To me, it is in a way something that gives me the right to call myself Colombian. Ask any transnational adoptee, and I think many will tell you that it is no little thing to have a passport from your original country of birth in your hand.

My adoption papers in original means I now have direct access to my history. Whatever history I have access to at all. It is the papers that were given to my adoptive parents, directly from ICBF. I can’t tell you exactly why that is different from having the copies, it just is.

The newspaper article was a surprise. I didn’t know my mother had it. I have always been very curious to know what the articles around my picture were. The surrounding articles are those of missing people, shootings, shooting victims and other reported crimes. I think it was pretty much what I was expecting, but it still felt sad to see. It kind of points to the possibility of my being in the hands of ICBF being the result of a potential crime. There is no way of knowing, though so it remains a black hole in that sense.

I also received an email from ICBF, Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (Colombian Family Welfare Institute). Attached was a folder with 85 pages of scanned papers in PDF-format. My adoption papers, supposedly the full file that I requested well over 6 months ago, and had almost given up on getting without a fight. Most of it is made up of pages I already had, and a large part is the application process my parents had to go through to be considered and accepted to adopt a child from Colombia. I skimmed through that part. I’m not sure how much in detail I want to read it. It feels intrusive in a way. Like that part doesn’t have to do with me. I was surprised to see it there because I kind of see myself in my adoption story completely separated from my adoptive parents. The two ran very parallel of course, and I should probably read all those pages, if for no other reason than to know how faulty the process probably was. What was new to me was a couple of pages containing information about me specifically. In one paragraph it says I showed the kind of behavior that was typical for children who were institutionalized or abandoned; I had delayed development of motor skills, I was very malnourished, I had a sad expression, I showed complete detachment towards all adults, and I had bronchial affections. What breaks my heart about this paragraph is the “complete detachment towards adults”. Already as a baby, I had learned to be on the defensive. Already as a little baby, I didn’t trust anyone to let them in. Already as a little baby, I knew to shut people out. And to this day no one has made it all the way behind that wall of defense. But it’s a lonely place to be sometimes. I would have been about 6 months at the time. I think of how I interacted with my daughters when they were 6 months old, and my heart breaks for the little baby that was me at that age. In an upcoming post, I will share with you some very specific ways that my fear of rejection and separation has played out in my life. In relationships and in friendships. For the first time ever, I now feel I have some kind of proof of where it all comes from.

Those of you who have read my blog and previous parts of my story know that not having a single name of a single person that was involved in my life in the first year and a half has bothered me to no end. I now have one. A name. One name of one person. It is the name of the director of the transit home. She may not have dealt with me closely, but she was part of the group of people that did get to decide my story at the time, so it matters. It is one ghost that now has a name and one name that I can potentially track and make into one person who may or may not remember the little girl who was handed over by the police, whose mother did not claim her, whose picture was put in the paper, who was placed in a foster home and later adopted to Sweden, losing her connection to her country, culture, language and first family, until many years later….

Lately, I had started giving up on my potentially finding out any more information than what I already had. I did not think that my papers would really contain anything more than I already knew. One name is not much, but it is something. One page of information about myself is not much, but it is more than I have ever had before. Can I trust it’s true? I don’t know. But it has put a bit more fuel to the fire that was about to go out. I have some new hope, little as it may be. I have to find out what my story really is.

Next up, a call to ICBF to ask some questions about the information in my paperwork!

Wish me luck…

 

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!

 

 

 

 

#NAAM 2018 ADOPTION STORIES: Julie, born in South Korea, adopted to the United States

FELLOW ADOPTEE JULIE SHARES HER ADOPTION STORY WITH YOU, IN HER OWN WORDS. JUST LIKE MANY OF US, THE AMOUNT OF INFORMATION SHE HAS ABOUT HER LIFE BEFORE ADOPTION IS VERY LIMITED AND SOMEWHAT VAGUE. HOWEVER, SHE IS DETERMINED TO SEARCH FOR THE ANSWERS…
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“I was born November 5, 1985 in a hospital in Incheon South Korea. According to the
paperwork in my file, I was given up for adoption because my mother had left the
province she was raised in and was unable to support her and me. I flew to Minnesota in
May 1986 when I was 6 months old to meet my adoptive parents. I do not have all the
information regarding the length of the process that my adoptive parents went through,
however, I do know that my mom was not able to have children because she had been
diagnosed with breast cancer. I would eventually find out that the day I was picked up
from the airport, my adoptive mother had received cancer treatments that morning. The
information I have regarding my biological parents is rather limited. According to the
paperwork that I have received from Korea, my mother was raised in Yesan province
and lost her mother at a young age. My mother did not get along well with her husband’s
second wife and went to live with extended family. After my mother’s grandmother died,
she left Yesan and went to work in Incheon. After that, the story gets a little lost in
translation and then it was noted that she was pregnant and gave the child, me, up for
adoption. There is no information regarding my biological father and I have two
different birthdays for my biological mother. Growing up as an adoptee was a different
type of experience. I was raised in a predominately white small midwestern town and
there were very few adoptees in the community. My adoptive mother lost her battle to
breast cancer the summer I was seven and several years after that my father remarried.
Now, I am 33 and a transracial adoptee parent and former foster parent, I have flipped
the script. My adoption journey has not always been easy and there have been times that
I have struggled. My first trip back to Korea since my birth was the spring of 2018. It was
life changing. Words cannot describe the experience or the powerful emotions that took
over. I have learned more about myself in the last three years than I knew the majority
of my life. I know my story isn’t over and I will continue to look for my biological
parents.”
Written by
Julie
born in South Korea
adopted to the US
You can find Julie and follow her work on Facebook at
and on Instagram at
Julie is in the process of releasing her memoir.
Find her and follow her work on her website:

#NAAM 2018 ADOPTION STORIES: Yennifer Dallmann Villa, born in Colombia, adopted to Germany

FELLOW ADOPTEE YENNIFER DALLMANN VILLA SHARES WITH YOU, HER ADOPTION STORY IN HER OWN WORDS. WHERE SHE WAS TOLD THERE WAS NO FAMILY, AND WHERE SHE GREW UP THINKING SHE DID NOT KNOW THE CONNECTION OF FAMILY, SHE FOUND THAT NOT ONLY DID SHE HAVE A FAMILY, BUT SHE DID KNOW THE BOND AND CONNECTION. IT WAS ALWAYS THERE, WAITING FOR HER TO RETURN, WAITING FOR HER TO FIND HER WAY BACK HOME…

 

 

“TREINTAIUNO*

entering the full circle yennifer-image.jpg

I was dancing in the street where I was born. It was New Years Eves and five weeks earlier I knew nothing about where I was from. I knew nothing about my family. The insanity of this moment made my head spin. I drank every Guaro, every Run I was offered, grabbed the bottle and made my family drink with me. My head kept spinning.  I was happy, I was blessed, I could not believe what was happening to me. The neighbors neither. We children walked around telling one neighbor after another that I am the sister of my brother, the daughter of my mother. The woman that gave birth to me, in the house down the street, on the first floor, behind that window we can see. They all know my brother, they all remember my mother. And we enjoyed their look on the face, like seeing a ghost. They were in disbelieve and so was I. They kept looking from my brother to me and back and again. They said my mother’s name. It did not get old. No matter how often we played this game.

I grew up in Germany, in the most typical German family: Father a policeman, mother a stay at home wife with a gardening lot. And now I was dancing in the most typical Colombian barrio. With rumba in front of every house, music, fire burning, people dancing salsa, covered in orange light and motos sneaking their ways through the celebration. My adoption documents stated my mother was a drug addict, with only half a name. My paper of abandonment said: “From early on, Yennifer never knew what family was.” My mother trying, but losing her battle to care for me, did not count as family. I had no one on my team. Abandoned. So they changed my birthday to make me younger, they erased my first name Leydi an made me fit my parents’ request for a daughter. „But a white one, please. No N-child, no mix. White, blond, cute.“ Lucky me. I got what I have never known: family.

Except I have known family.

Except a mother trying does count as family.

Except I remember waiting in my crib for my mother to come back to me.

Except I remember giving up waiting on her and going with the wrong family.

Except, my abuela* wanted to get me from the orphanage but was denied access.

Except my abuela praying 10.585 nights for me to come back to them.

Except in my dreams, I heard a voice telling me, that I need to remember who I am.

Except I had a sister that wrote me a letter, when she was 8 years old, that never arrived.

Except I yearned my lost big brother who died even before I was born.

Except I prayed every night to not die myself before I could find my way home.

 

I had no one on my team.

Except my brothers’ grandmother allowing my birth in her home, 14 years before my baby brother was even born.

Except for the neighbors’ sister, who breastfed me, when my mother had no milk.

Except for the aunt of my brother, who gifted me her oldest sons clothes, when I had nothing but my skin.

Except not only my mother who tried but the whole street who decided to help me.

 

I was dancing in the street where I was born. 5 weeks earlier I knew nothing about where I was from and now I was not only reconnected with my abuela, sister and a baby brother but also offered family by seven tias* and tios*, another grandmother and 6 primas* and primos* I was welcomed back as warm as I was once clothed by them. New Year’s Eve and I was back where my life started, surrounded by those who have witnessed my birth. We celebrated for two days. And when I came home I wrote:

 

TREINTAIUNO

 

You came home, running late

With sand still covering your shoes

You feel your cousins arms around your chest

You came home running late

You forgot your way, turned around when no one was left

 

You found home, it was late

Orange darkness on your street

Your eyes cringed to remember the vagueness of the schemes

You are home, you are safe

Your head against his heart

For you the first time you can rest”

 

Written by

Yennifer Dallmann Villa,

born in Colombia

adopted to Germany

 

Yennifer is a photographer, designer, and human rights, activist.

You can find and follow her work on her website: http://yvilla.de/

and on instagram @ yvilla_cologne

She is the creating force behind the project “No Mother No Child”, in which she traveled to Colombia photographing the mothers in Colombia who have lost their children. You can find and follow her and No Mother No Child on facebook: www.facebook.com/NoMotherNoChild

 

*Treintaiuno – thirty one (31st of December)
* abuela – grandmother,
*tia – aunt,
*tio- uncle,
*primo- male cousin,
*prima-female cousin

 

Contradiction in the Life of an Adoptee

 

If there is one thing that most, if not all, adoptees can relate and attest to, I think it is the constant presence of contradiction. Our lives are made up of this, but also that, usually on opposite sides. Living in this contradiction is challenging. Challenging to feel comfortable with and challenging to move past (if that is even possible).

I was born in Colombia. When I was a year and a half I was adopted and moved to Sweden. My life before being adopted is a black hole. The information is vague at best, with no real details to hang on to. I have no memory of not being adopted. I have no memory of any other parents than the ones who adopted me. I have no memory of a time before I had an adoptive brother, also from Colombia.

I grew up not fully knowing my adoption story. My parents would have been willing to share any little information they had if I would have wanted to know, but I didn’t. I was better off not knowing, it was all in the past anyway, as far as I was concerned. I would tell anyone who asked that I felt just fine about being adopted, that I was grateful that my parents had been able to make it so normal, and that I was an example of an adoption success story. What I meant by success story was that adoption, as far as I could tell, did not affect me negatively in any way. It was just a fact. I was adopted. Nothing more, nothing less. And I had no interest in doing a DNA test to find out anything more.

With the introduction of DNA testing to the general market, my husband would ask me if I wanted to do it, but my answer was always no. While I did want to visit Colombia to get to know the culture, the people and the country in general, I was not interested in searching for anyone potentially related to me. In my eyes, at the time, the woman who had given birth to me was more a concept than an actual person, and I certainly did not think of her as a mother to me.

I had a brother who I got along with pretty well (until early teenage years). I loved the house we lived in, the backyard I played in, the school I went to and the free-time I had playing with my friends. I never thought of Colombia as my home country, I never thought of myself as having another family, let alone a biological one. I did not feel abandoned. I did not have a negative outlook on myself or my life in relation to having been adopted, whatsoever. I could go on and on about how great my life as an adoptee was, and how little I thought being adopted had affected me, and how proud I felt of being adopted, and it was all true. Every word. In the moment.

I can remember things changing in regards to how I looked at my family and my part in it when I was around 9 years old. As my view changed, new feelings emerged, that I had a hard time making sense of. Even in this positive adoptee life of mine, I realized there was an underlying feeling of guilt that contradicted these feelings of pride.  Feelings of guilt in a way that a child should not have to feel. I started questioning my relationships. I felt disconnected from the only family I had, which made me think something was wrong with me. Knowing that there were biological family relatives of mine out there somewhere, who I did not know, had no memory of or would probably never know, made me feel like something was missing. But I wouldn’t allow myself to go there. I had a good home and to somehow shatter my parents dream of a “happy family” was more than I could handle.

I could not wrap my head around where all those mixed emotions came from, so I stuffed them away. I kept quiet. I kept it to myself. Buried deep. In doing so, I hid part of myself.

Now, as a grown woman with a new insight into my own experience, I recognize that the “everything is beautiful” part of my story was indeed a defense mechanism, protecting me from the underlying trauma of having been separated from my first mother, from my culture, language, and place of birth. I didn’t even realize until recently, the amount of denial I was living within my life. I had re-defined my own reality and perceptions to protect myself from disappointment, feelings of rejection and abandonment and all the other contradicting feelings I was experiencing…

Confidence and insecurity

Social/outgoing and quiet/introverted

Needing to be around people and wanting to be by myself

Mature and yet childish

Openly happy and silently hurting

Feeling happy in my life, and always feeling something was missing.

Feeling like I can fit in anywhere, yet don’t belong fully anywhere.

To not wish my adoption away, but also always wonder what the alternative would have looked like.

To look myself in the mirror and not know who I really am.

I finally know I’m not alone. These are struggles I share with so many of my fellow adoptees.

The feelings of contradiction that I struggled with would not have been such a problem had they been accepted, acknowledged and validated. It is a big part of who we are, as adoptees. By feeling the need to shut our feelings out, to hide them or to keep them to ourselves, or to think we need to protect the feelings of those around us, is not a healthy way to live. We need to be able to explore these feelings in a healthy way in order to come to terms and work through them. In order to do so, especially as children, we need the support of the people around us, mainly our (adoptive) parents.

In the last year and a half, since I decided to dig up these feelings and revisit my entire adoption story and what it has meant to me, I have realized that had my parents had the right support and known about the things that I (an adoptee) might experience, they would have made sure to connect with me more, and would have made sure to open a door of communication with me. They would have known not to mistake my distance for confidence or rejection for independence. I would have known where the mixed emotions came from, and not felt guilty about them. I would have known that not opening the door for communication with me was because my parents simply didn’t know how to. I would have known that my parents did the best they knew how to, and I would not have resented them. I would have known that some, if not all, of my brother’s problematic behavior, had everything to do with being separated and abandoned, and then adopted.

Ironically enough, by not trying to be the “perfect family,” the family with strong bonds, the family that did things together and the family who enjoyed each other’s company, I think my life as an adoptee might have had a chance at lessening the contradictions and expectations, to replace them with peace of mind and understanding, for myself, my brother and for my adoptive parents.

It all comes down to information and support for everyone involved in the adoption triad.

I now have children of my own and have experienced, for the first time, what it is like to have biological relatives. As such, curiosity about my own background started growing in me. I have since done a DNA-test, connected with a few distant cousins and embarked on a healing journey.

Today, I am committed to speaking my truth and spreading information that helps to raise the adoptee’s voice. I do not oppose adoption per se but advocate family preservation. What I do wish to see happen, and I share this view with many of my fellow adoptees, is for people to be open to our side of the story. Especially prospective adoptive parents. What we have to say is not all good but embracing the full truth of what we have to share about our experiences and our lives is helpful in understanding an adopted child, and being able to be the parent that child needs.

Written by

Amanda Medina

I wrote this to be featured on the blog of RG Adoption Consulting Agency, because I believe that I can work to change many aspects of the adoption process, domestically and transnationally, and while I personally advocate family preservation first and foremost I believe I can also use my voice to help fellow adoptees, mainly the little ones who don’t have one yet, current and prospective, by sharing my story, my experience and my truth with a group who really needs to hear adult adoptee voices; the adoptive parents…

Original post: Contradiction in the Life of an Adoptee