It is a question I get all the time.
‘So when did you actually find out you were adopted?!’
I realize that, for some, there is this momentous occasion where you are told that you were adopted. I couldn’t imagine the shock and disbelief! I have heard so many stories in this regard, and none of them seem to have a happy ending. And that breaks my heart. I can’t imagine what a betrayal that would be. Granted, I have had more than my fair share of dramatic moments in my life, and I am sure I will be sharing some of those with you, But this isn’t one of them, I have always known I was adopted.
I have tried to stretch my memory as far back as it goes. I am not a spring chicken anymore, so that is harder than one might think! But I always come up with the same boring answer. I don’t remember a time that I didn’t know. In my memory, It is always US – a Mum and Dad, a big brother, a big sister, and me. Oh, and we also had a few pets along the way!
My sister was adopted five years before me, so by the time I came around, everyone in my family was well versed in all things related to the matter. It just wasn’t that big of a deal. I mean, of course it was a big deal, but speaking about it wasn’t. It was normal! And we always knew we had an open-door policy whenever it came to asking questions. Our curiosity was always met with patience and with love. I implore anyone who has adopted a child to do the same thing. Use the correct verbiage, and speak about it often. It helps adoptees like me to adjust!
I do remember quite far back, I must have been two or three years old. I know this because I was sitting on my Mum’s lap, facing her, with my tiny hands on her warm face. We had been playing Patty Cake, Patty Cake, Baker’s Man. It was something my Mum did with me often after I had heart surgery, to get my arms moving and my skin stretching. I didn’t realize until I was an adult that my favourite childhood games were actually used as physiotherapy. But I digress.
I asked her to tell me the story again. I think I probably asked that question a lot. It was my favourite story. It was beautiful, and age-appropriate, and made just for me. There were no sordid details, or ambiguous feelings. It wasn’t even slightly sad. It never made me feel anything but special and absolutely loved. And it answered all of my questions, at least at that time, anyhow.
As the story goes, I was grown in my Mum’s heart, but in my birth mother’s belly. One held me in her womb, while the other held me in her heart. My Mum had problems growing babies, so a very special lady helped me to grow. And when the time came, she brought me into the world, and gave me to parents that I was always meant to have. I imagined myself, inside a big box, wrapped up with a bright red bow. I was a gift. I was chosen. And that made made me special, somehow.
I don’t know how much of that I really understood at that age, but that was always the way the story went. It seems really simple and I am sure it sounds trite to some, but it has always meant something to me. It meant, no matter how I came to be, I was wanted. And I never forgot that, even when I had moments of feeling like I had been abandoned somehow. Yes, I have had those feelings too, if I am honest with myself. However fleeting, I struggled at times. I am human.
It is funny, how things have started to come back to me in the past week. I see short clips, vignettes of certain times in my life. I have been reliving moments of my past, but with more clarity and wisdom than I have ever had before.
I always knew.