May 5, 2010

Open letter to my friend's daughter

Dearest Baby,

On this fabulous occasion of your baby shower, I wanted to write a letter from one adoptee to another…

Being adopted is something that you can’t understand unless you are. Most of the time you are pretty normal, and life is business as usual. Once in awhile you feel different, but not in the way that people might think. I never felt different because I didn’t grow in my mom’s stomach. I never felt different because I didn’t look like my dad. I fought with my brother like a regular kid. I loved my grandma just like a normal kid. But once in awhile I felt different.

Some people don’t get it; they think being adopted is weird. Adults try to tell you things to make you feel special, but they always miss the mark. You’ll hear the clich├ęs like “You grew in your mom’s heart instead of her tummy” and other sappy things. Nice sentiments to be sure, but people who write that crap aren’t adopted. Adoptees are in an exclusive club. You can’t join unless you are, and you can’t explain it to people because they just don’t understand. We’re extra-special, we’re more than normal. Our parents wanted us. REALLY wanted us. We have the unique experience of non-biological unconditional love, and it’s sublime.

The flip side of that is knowing that you have a dual history. There are always the questions you can’t ask, the questions that will break your parents’ hearts even though they’re expecting them. “Where did I come from?” “Who’s my real mother?” Real mother is the term you use as a kid before you have the language to say “biological mother,” before you have the awareness or understanding that calling your birth mother your real mother breaks your mom’s heart. Don’t ever feel guilty for having these questions. They are normal. They are part of your history, and you are entitled to that. Hopefully your parents will understand.

I was (and am) definitely different from my family. I am wild, impatient, impulsive, curious, and very unlike my parents. I don’t have my mom’s insight or my dad’s fortitude. My folks and I couldn’t be more different in temperament and personality. It was a challenge for my parents to raise such a foreign creature. I continually confounded them, and I think I scared them a little. They have always shown me the greatest love, but sometimes they didn’t understand me. Who is this person that they called daughter? It took me many years and lots of hindsight, but now I know that I landed exactly where I belonged.

It took parents like mine to raise a child like me into a happy, healthy adult. I have met my birth family, and I adore them, but if I had grown up with them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. My parents were a steadfast rock in my whirlwind life, and without that North star, I would be lost. They taught me values, goals, love, life, and God. They loved me enough to turn me loose and allowed me to make my mistakes. They took me back and let me lick my wounds without saying, “I told you so.” They were and are amazing, and I wouldn’t want to know life without them.

So I’d like to welcome you to lifetime membership in a pretty cool organization. You’re exactly where YOU belong, and knowing your parents as I do, I don’t know who is luckier, you or them.