The jury in my mind is still out on the subject of adoption.
I grew up knowing that I was adopted. My adoptive parents were so open & forthcoming about it from the very beginning that it was stunning to find as an adult that they had withheld crucial information. But I digress already. Growing up adopted made me feel special. Mom made sure to always phrase it like this: “You were special. We got to pick you out.” I envisioned a big room, crowded with children & babies, with a big window on one wall like a TV maternity ward, where prospective parents perused the progeny and chose the most adorable. And these two people thought *I* was the most adorable. How could a kid feel more special? But there was an undercurrent of uncertainty that always played at the periphery of my consciousness as I got older. I didn’t belong. I wanted to know who I was. Who I looked like. Who had given me away. I did not belong.
After my adoptive parents passed, I decided to finally, once and for all, answer the questions that attended every glance in a mirror. Certainly that would quiet the disquiet. Through a sequence of events that will be for another entry, I eventually found myself gazing into the face of the woman who’d given me life, but not a life. Only it was just a photo, because she had died six years before I found out who she was. Oddly, I didn’t look much like her – only around the eyes. And in her fire, I was told by those who knew her best. But I was a total surprise to the rest of her family. No one knew of my existence. Once again, I didn’t belong.
When my adoptive parents died, I felt the orphaning acutely, more so than I think a natural daughter would.
There is a separateness, an exile, to being an adopted child with no other blood family. I look to my own children to provide the familial link that should also flow from my past. My genetic line originates with me. It is a separateness that nothing can bridge. Sometimes I see myself in my mind’s eye, alone on a gray windswept plain, nothing but scrub in the landscape and a swirling, disquieting mist all around. There is no sound, no color. Just me.
Contrary to what my mom always told me, I am not special. I am disconnected. Adrift without mooring.
So I’m not all that sure that adoption is a great thing.