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.