A Shameful Secret

I am going to tell you one of the biggest secrets from my childhood. I was adopted at birth. My parents were my adoptive parents, not my biological ones. My parents told me this news right before I started kindergarten. I was way too young to grasp this concept. Growing up, I did not understand what adoption was. I only knew that I was “given up” before I was even born.

I was five. I still believed in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and now you are telling me my parents are not really mine? I was crushed. I cried and cried because I did not understand why my “real” mommy would give me away. Was I bad? I was far too young for such a conversation. My parents reacted poorly to my inability to understand this news, which made a bad situation worse. I was only five. I was a smart kid, but this concept was way too abstract for me.

Being adopted in the 70’s was shrouded in secrecy and shame. I was teased mercilessly for being adopted. I was called things like “orphan.” Growing up in a small town, the fact that I was adopted spread very fast. It did not help that I did not look like my family either as a young girl. Oddly enough, as I got older I looked more and more like my Dad.

I hated not knowing where I got my height (or lack of height rather) from, or the fact that I am left-handed. Who do I look like? These are questions I have never been able to answer. In many ways, being adopted means I can choose my own heritage. I identify only as American, since I do not know what my parent’s ethnic background was. I have my guess, but it is just that – a guess.

The good news for kids adopted today is that no longer is this such a shameful secret. Now adoptions are celebrated and not shunned. This is a good thing. Times have really changed for the better.

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6 thoughts on “A Shameful Secret

  1. Nancy, thanks for the invite to visit. I apologize for not stopping in sooner. What you have here is straight from the heart. I read about six of your posts, and it’s powerful shit. I applaud you for bearing and baring so much and having the confidence to share it.

    Blogging is a journey; @TheJackB is one great example of how he’s used a blog to work with life. I also like what @lifeforinstance/Lori Gosselin is doing on her blog to share the pain points we all have.

    Keep on, Girl. The corner is up ahead.

    • nancyadavis says:

      Jayme,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my blog and comment. I knew when I started my blog that it would be highly personal. I would not want it any other way. Life truly is a fascinating journey, and we never know what lies around that next corner.

      The future looks very bright! Better wear sunscreen. :)

  2. Bill Dorman says:

    Hey Nancy, thanks for sharing this story. I have an adopted cousin and I don’t recall when he was told or we were told. The crazy thing is w/in the last 5 years he found out he was a twin and has connected with his brother. He was excited and his ‘parents’ were as well.

    When is a good time to tell a kid they are adopted? I have a close friend who was pregnant with another man’s baby when she married her current husband (11 yrs ago). The bio dad wants no part of it and the mother hasn’t told the little girl anything. Do you let the girl think her ‘daddy’ is her bio dad? I don’t have an answer.

    Without getting political or discussing women’s rights; I will say I’m glad you are here and I had the chance to meet you. Your mother had her reasons for giving you up for adoption, but at least she had you and that means something. And that’s all I will say about that………

    Good to see you and hope this writing is rewarding for you.

    • nancyadavis says:

      Hi Bill,

      My advice about telling a child they are adopted is to wait until they have some emotional maturity. I would say no earlier than ten. In my case, I was so young I could not understand it at all.

      As far as your friend goes, that is tough. I would sit her down and tell her the truth, simply because she deserves to know. What if she finds out in some way later? That stuff happens all the time – something for the mother to think about for sure.

      That is really cool about your cousin. My best guess about myself is that “Dad” was one of three things – married, not the right race/religion or got drafted. Those are the big possibles considering I was born in 68.

      Writing is always rewarding for me :) This blog is how I meet all kinds of cool people, such as yourself.

  3. [...] Davis found out she was adopted when she was just 5 years old. At the time, it was a crushing blow, and people felt that adoption [...]

  4. [...] A Shameful Secret – A personal post about what it is like to grow up adopted. [...]

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