What being adopted FEELS like....today

by - 7:58 AM

It's extremely challenging to really put into words what being adopted "feels" like.

I guess I should preface this by saying, this is what it feels like TO ME. I do not represent every adult adoptee in the world, and each of us have our own feelings that can often evolve and change as we grow and age. So, this is how it feels today, but not exactly how it felt 10 or 20 years ago.

Today, being adopted feels like a burden that nobody understands or has to bare but me.

Today, being adopted feels like this giant stigma that people make assumptions about.

Today, being adopted is exceptionally frustrating because as I find out some huge genetic news, it feels as though very few understand how and why this news is huge to me.

It feels as though an ENORMOUS piece of myself was stolen from me. It feels like I was literally robbed of an experience that NO current learning or knowledge could ever possibly make up for.

It feels when I look into the mirror that I don't often know who I am looking at.

I often feel like I am a part of something and yet still standing on the outside. I attribute that to my adoption. That's not to say that my family ever intentionally set out to make me feel like that (they didn't) but it's all internal. I have CONSTANTLY felt like I was physically in a group but still stood away from everyone else.

Being surrounded by people and yet being utterly alone.

Being adopted used to make me alternate between just wanting to blend in to wanting to intentionally shock...just to feel noticed.

Being adopted and hearing people talk about traits they get from their parents makes me sad.

When you're adopted, and you express a sense of frustration or strong feelings about anything related to your adoption, you are typically instantly pinged as being "bitter" or "angry".

Do you know what that feels like? To have this HUGE life narrative that people automatically write you off as "angry" for?

I'm not an angry person. I am an exceptionally passive person who is constantly talking about love and peace and goodness and yet the MOMENT I express that something about my adoption is frustrating, hurtful, or bad- I am AUTOMATICALLY called angry.

Honestly, if you want me to GET angry, call me angry. Ha.

I am dismissed constantly for "dwelling on the past". How do you explain to someone that it isn't the past that you are dwelling on but your very current life? How do you explain that things like genetics for example STILL make up a huge part of who I am NOW, and that they matter? How do you explain how a life event such as the continued rejection of my birth mother (in adulthood) shaped me as I am now and that when someone brushes it off as the "past", they invalidate me?

Some days, like when I work with teens in the foster care system, being adopted gives me something to relate to them with. It gives me something to bond with them. Those days, being adopted isn't bad, but rather something in my life that gives me drive to help another.

Some days, when an adoptive parent "gets" whatever I am trying to explain to them about how to relate to their children, being adopted feels like a good thing, because I know that I am potentially helping another child not have to deal with some of the same experiences I had.

Then there are days when people say things such as "Well, what? Would you have rather not been adopted?" I stare at them blankly and internally think "YES."

Please don't misunderstand that. It doesn't mean I wish I was with my birth mother. It means I will that adoption wasn't a part of my story. I wish that I had just been born into my family.

And then I feel guilty.

Guilt, sadness, anger, confusion, happiness, love, hate....those are just some of the feelings I feel about adoption. It's so unfair to expect me to feel just one when this is just a part of who I am.

And I'm not against adoption. Don't get it twisted. Am I against unethical adoption? Yes. But having the feelings I have about adoption doesn't mean I am against adoption.

See how complex that is? It's just not black and white. There's a WHOLE lot of grey.

So when people say "What does being adopted FEEL like?"

.....there's just not an easy answer to that question.

As always, leave me some comment love. <3

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  1. Thank you Claire for your candor. I am an adoptive mom with a child who I believe feels a lot of what you feel. 16 years ago I thought I could just love her enough to make it "all better"...but I can't...it isn't easy like that. So I will continue to love her as we muddle through all the "grey" in her world...crazy conflicting emotions and all!! God bless you for posting this. ;)

  2. As adoptive parents of a now-2-1/2 year old, I appreciate the insights you've provided. Genetics play a huge part in every person's life, and to have your curiosity and frustration disregarded shows a complete lack of empathy. Obviously it's easy for others to dismiss your need to know, especially if they know their birth families or have come to terms with their own adoption. More power to you to find the balance between the knowledge you can find and the disappointment of information being withheld from, or unavailable to you. And continued strength to persevere in the face of unkind people.

  3. Thanks Claire, great writing...clearly expressed, passionate, and authentic. I feel like I understand somethings better now. My kids say "adoption sucks!" and I've been known to feel really bad at those moments, trying not to show it of course. Lately I am just able to say. Yeah you're right I agree. Miraculously they seem a lot like you - kind, good hearted, interesting, vibrant people. I'm grateful, even though it does suck. but I'm the mom so of course I'm going to feel that way. (Plus adoptive parents get to feel like heros -of course that's bullshit but still it's a nice feeling now and then...in the midst of the parts that suck....not to meniton being a parent and loving your child, it's just the greatest heartbreaking open experience there is. Thanks so much for your courage and for sharing.