Thursday, June 21, 2012

Being Adopted: I Love You No Matter What

I wish I could ask my mom when I was born, what day of the week, what time.  A Christmas baby. That's what they used to call me since I was born 2 days after Christmas.  But that's all I know. I was adopted at 3 years old along with a Navajo Indian brother a few months older than me, and a Korean sister a couple years younger.

My auntie raised four kids in her lifetime that weren't her own.  Her body just wouldn't make baby's even though every fiber of her being ached with the longing of being a mother. But she raised us like we were her own.  She knew she was taking on quite a lot.  She was doing it for the right reasons, she had so much love to give, and Lord only knows, we had so much love to be needing.

"You aren't my mama!  I want my real mom!!"  I still remember how red hot my face felt when I hollered those words.  I didn't care.  I missed my real mama and in my four year old mind, tantrums had become a way of getting what I wanted.

A most endearing photo of my daughter Kate, ( karmic debt being paid back in full, with compound interest.)

My poor auntie. She really had her hands full there. I was a brat! a brat and a half! naughty, naughty, naughty, and I knew I was being naughty and I didn't care.  I knew I was saying the most hurtful thing I could say to her.  Even at four years old, I knew what buttons to push. 

*** One Truth About Adoption***

You are not cut from the same cloth.

When the adopted child realizes this,
it will be bitter.
But the sweet will come...

While growing up, me and my aunt were complete opposites.  She's a morning lark, I'm a night owl.  She can do trigonometry over the phone without a pencil and paper, I ...... can't!  She worked faithfully and honorably for the government for over 30 years, I took one little desk job after high school and knew I had to get the heck out and start my own piano teaching business.   

I knew I was different.  I felt like one of them baby swans who got shuffled around and somehow landed in a family of ducks instead.  (Except I wasn't a baby swan. More like a chicken.)


I loved the story of 'the ugly duckling' as a child
Parents second guess themselves all the time.  This is especially tricky when raising an adopted child.  It get's me thinking about the pervasive idea that if we just have enough love to adopt a child, it will be enough for the child to grow up grateful. 

But I didn't grow up feeling grateful.  I knew I should be grateful. But I felt so..... different. In fact, there was a lot of second guessing on my part as a child, which led to feelings of confusion as to whether I was really wanted, whether or not I was what my new adopted family hoped and dreamed I would be, or if I was disappointing everyone.  

***True Confessions***
I don't think adopted children owe gratitude to anyone.

That idea implies they are already in deep debt. 
Guilty until proven Innocent
Not a fun way to start a relationship!


Adopted children do not owe gratitude to anyone.  Not to their new parents/old parents/sperm donor/new siblings, especially not to their new and better life. They don't owe it to their mother, they don't owe it to civilization in general. Gratitude is not a debt you pay for occupying a space marked "family".  Adopted children who grow up with this kind of pressure will only grow up resentful. 

Now, I'm not saying that they SHOULDN'T be grateful. Gratitude is beautiful and satisfying, and makes people have a warm and happy heart.  But in the hierarchy of priorities, gratitude stands several rungs high from what an adopted child will acquire over time, through constant assurance, patience, and un-conditional love. 

So, what does 'adopted-children-don't-owe-gratitude-to-anyone' mean in practical, everyday terms? It means that they don't have to apologize for who they are or why they are different.  It's hard to love our children unconditionally. It's natural human instinct to feel good and compare our children to ourselves. (same nose, eye color, excels at math like great grandpa so-and-so). 

If children feel loved for who they are no matter what, where they come from no matter what, and completely accepted for their differences no matter what, you will reap the benefits of a grateful child. 

I could shout the following sentiment on the rooftops!  I'm grateful to my aunt for adopting me.   I'm so grateful, there aren't words to express.  But I didn't get here by following all the road signs that say 'this way to gratitude.'  It came about by traveling a route fraught with pitfalls and wrong turns and some back tracking and starting over. This translates into both of us being able to say I'm sorry, I made a mistake, and I was wrong.  But most of all, I got here from hearing and saying the words "I love you no matter what." 

Humongous Love,

XxOo

Danielle

7 comments:

  1. As the mom of now 4 adopted children (whom I have chosen to love), I have worried about how they will feel. How they will look at the world and our family. How they will feel about adoption. How they will feel about their birth parents. How they learn to feel, accept and offer love in their lives.

    I love the reminder that love comes from gratitude and gratitude comes from being loved no matter what. It helps me let go of my own fears and doubts and focus on loving them everyday in every way!!

    Thanks for the love today Danielle!

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    1. oh Addie, thank you. I'm singing your praises for adopting four kiddos. Adoption really is a beautiful thing. I know that love overcomes fear. You are an amazing woman! xoxo

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  2. So many gems in this. I love the perspective of an adult adoptee, a voice that isn't often heard.

    xoxo

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