Making Peace With My Adopted Self
As an adopted person, I have gone through life feeling that there are pieces of me missing. I have an empty spot, causing me to look for something without knowing what that is. It’s a birth defect, so to speak. Slapped on me from the moment I was born and then relinquished. My path in life feels as if there should be something more. I’m always trying to achieve the unknown without knowing where it leads. Searching for my ‘real’ self, I wonder if who I am is who I should be. Because I left behind a part of me, and I want to know her.
Even in the best of circumstances, adoption has a lifelong effect. It touches my soul and becomes the foundation for my feelings, reactions, and decisions. People did not talk about adoption trauma when I was growing up and wrestling with my adopted self. Studies hadn’t been done, so the term was unrecognized. There wasn’t anything known about the impact adoption had on a person’s psyche. So, no one felt a reason to explore any residual effects of adoption.
My birth mother placed me for adoption at birth, and separation from her happened before I had any conscious memory, yet it still influenced me. The trauma inside me created identity issues, where I constantly compared myself to my adopted family members. I’m sensitive to our differences and feel misplaced. My adopted family was wonderful. Yet it was hard to appreciate everything they gave me because I didn’t know how to move beyond the empty spots inside. It took me many years to understand the trauma and how it left me insecure.
There was a point when I said, ‘An adopted child will adjust if they grow up knowing the truth.’ I recant that statement because I now believe all adopted people deal with some level of disorientation. I’ve made mistakes from decisions I consider ‘trauma thinking.’ It doesn’t go away, but I am learning to be aware of and recognize how I respond. The more I understand the source of my feelings and how they cause me to react. The easier it becomes to turn them around.
Finding my biological family has helped me move through these feelings of displacement. Although I don’t have a relationship with my birth family, it’s not about that. It’s about finding the part of me lost through adoption. Acknowledging that I am a part of two families has eased my sense of loss and emptiness. I have roots in my biological family, and that’s where my heritage comes from. They are the foundation of what I am made of. Like everyone else, I traveled a unique path in life that brought me to my adopted family. This family has become a part of who I am. They raised, guided, instilled morals, and mostly loved me.