What does it feel like to be adopted? To know that someone gave you up and someone else welcomed you home? The answer depends on who you ask. My new friend, Anne Heffron, and I bonded over being adopted as infants, but our stories are very different. She believes the trauma of being separated from her birth mother lived deep within her, wreaking havoc long into her adulthood. She just released a poignant, heartfelt, memoir about it that's raw and honest ( You Don't Look Adopted available on Amazon). My adoption experience is vastly different and Anne asked me to write a short piece about it. The exchange of positive and negative experiences is important because adoptions run the gamut from good to bad and all touched by adoption should know they are not alone. Anne and I and millions of others are with you.
This is what I sent Anne about being adopted:
My adoption is simply a part of who I am, a part of who I have always been, as subtle and well integrated into my life as being left handed. I don’t feel traumatized by it, nor do I think it is the reason I am a disorganized comfort eater who was bad in math growing up. We all have our junk, but I can’t say in my life it comes from one place or one event. I think those lesser parts of me are the accumulative affect of many things, but not because I was adopted as a newborn.
Much of what I have read in Anne's book and from adoptees posting about it could lead one to believe that there is no other truth than life long trauma from adoption and if you don’t identify with that, you are not in touch with your adoption reality. But little in life is that black and white. The affects of adoption are not one size fits all. In my case, I have always felt at home with being adopted and it’s not because of delusional thinking or ignoring my past. I have always somehow known I was exactly where I was supposed to be, with the parents I was meant to have, especially my father. He and I shared a bond so strong that it continues even after his death. I wonder if that deep connection between us healed any wound there might have been after I entered the world. Perhaps those who have a deep, wonderful relationship with one parent or another feel the loss of adoption less. I can say with absolute truth that I don’t feel like I lost in the process, but that I gained one of the most important relationships I can imagine, an incredible life in a pro sports family, an upbringing that prepared me well for adulthood.
Did I ever wonder about my birth parents? Only after I started thinking about having babies of my own. I wondered about medical history and the potential implications for my children. And I also wanted to say thank you for what they gave me in giving me up. My gratitude to my birth parents and my real parents runs very deep.
Adoption is complex and a series of events have me thinking about it now, in mid-life, more than at any other time and the conclusions I'm drawing are profound. More on that later. Meantime, please pass this on to people who are touched by adoption, whether positively or negatively.