You’re not adopted? But you don’t look like your parents at all! What’s it like not being adopted? Are you sad because you weren’t chosen?
Knowing why you look that way and where many of the things you like and dislike about your appearance come from, being able to see these things in the people in your house and in the people you see at family reunions: What’s that like? Do you feel like a part of your family? Does having the same eyes or nose or laugh as others make you feel ordinary, not special? Do you ever think about other, unreal parents?
Is it embarrassing to fill out all the paperwork before your first visit to a new doctor? What’s that like? Did an employee ever fail to notice your “not adopted” note on the file and ask in front of everyone how you know all this family history stuff? How did it feel to be singled out like that?
Knowing your birth story, knowing how many hours your mother was in labor with you; knowing what name she gave you because it’s your name forever, knowing where your father was at the time: How does that feel? When you were young, did other children make fun of you for not being adopted? because nobody but your own parents wanted you?
When you were little, did you entertain fantasies like those Freud called the family romance? Pretend you were adopted and one day your real family would come and love you better, love you right? How did that feel? Did it fill an emptiness for you, or did it turn out there had never been any emptiness, and you were only seeking the love you had at home all along? Did you, as a child, feel sure you were adopted and announce it to your parents, only to see them smile and roll their eyes rather than rush you to a therapist or accuse you of being disloyal to the family? What was that like?
Are you grateful you were kept? Does it make you feel special to know your parents made you right there at home, literally between them, and waited nine whole months for you and gave you their name–that you were literally created by and for them? Are you grateful you weren’t aborted? How does it feel to know you belong where you are, that at least two people made or changed their life plans, sacrificing countless unlived lives, just for you? Does it make you feel blessed like this non-adoptee I met once and this one my friend knows and this one in this magazine and this one on the internet?
If you don’t feel grateful, do you think this is because knowing so much about yourself and your heritage mean you missed out on many of life’s wonderful surprises? When your friends did their “birthparent” searches, did you feel left out? Does it make sense that this still bothers you, or do you feel you should simply get over it?
Did you ever consider searching for your might-have-been adoptive parents, for that one “looking to adopt” couple who would have provided the perfect home for you? Why? Why not? What went wrong? Are you unhappy? Were you abused? Why? Why not? Why? How does this feel?
When people find out you aren’t adopted, do they say it’s wonderful and then change the subject? Do you sense they don’t know what to say to someone whose parents didn’t even have to pass a home study? Do they accuse you of being spoiled? Do they compare you to their non-adopted relatives? Do they expect you to be an authority on all aspects and schools of thought on parturition, and to be able to explain it from the points of view of the mother, father, baby, OB/GYN, all members of the attending medical staff and any deity/ies involved or not involved? Does that bother you, or do you feel honored to be a spokesperson for parturition?
Has not having your amended birth certificate ever prevented you from obtaining either US citizenship or a passport? What was that like?
Maybe you don’t think about it, like fish don’t think about water, and that’s understandable, but have you ever tried imagining how it would really feel to be adopted?
Have you ever tried really hard to imagine it, to the point that your psyche began to feel uncomfortable in some way?
And have you then gone a little bit past that feeling, and wondered if you weren’t wrong about a thing or two?
Yes? Kinda disconcerting, wasn’t it? (Thank you for making that effort. It means a lot.)
Then STOP TELLING ADOPTEES IT “WOULDN’T BOTHER YOU” IF YOU WERE ADOPTED, BECAUSE AS LONG AS YOU HAVE A LOVING FAMILY IT “DOESN’T MATTER.”