The Sadness That Comes with Being Adopted (#NationalAdoptionMonth)
Today, I am going to be writing about a very personal part of my life. I will be writing about the single action that changed my life forever.
I was adopted.
This occurred when I was 8 months old in Ekaterinburg, Russia. My parents actually traveled to Russia and picked me up around Christmas Eve of 1997.
I don't remember the small part of my life in Russia. I don't remember the orphanage, the plane ride, my fellow orphans, or the people who cared for me. I don't remember my mother who dropped me off at the orphanage. I don't remember if I had siblings. I don't remember why I was brought there and how I was treated there. I don't remember any second of my life in Russia.
However, I still proudly say every day that I am adopted. It is definitely something I talk about a lot. If you've met me, you probably already knew about this.
I've been given a beautiful life. I have two parents that love me dearly. I have a great brother that was also adopted (from Bulgaria). I've been given so many amazing opportunities with a solid education and a safe place to live. I'm eternally grateful for those things and I will never be able to truly repay my parents for what they have done for me. They saved my life.
Absolutely NOTHING about my life would be the same if I wasn't adopted. My name, my language, my family, my friends, my knowledge, my opinions....would be all completely different.
Though this event is positive in countless ways, there are few things about being adopted that lay heavy on my heart. What I don't normally mention are the emotional repercussions that have come with being adopted. I wanted to chat about those today:
1. I don't know my biological family...and probably never will.
I've noticed through the years that there's a bond with biological family members that can't be recreated through adoption. I've heard many of my friends say that their mom/dad/sibling is their "best friend." That is something that I definitely don't experience (of course, that's not saying that I don't love my family dearly). Something in my head associates the fact that I don't have that bond with my family with the fact that I am adopted. I'm sure there's no connection to that, but it's still something I consider.
Also, when I learn about my family history, I'm not learning about MY family history. I'm learning about my parents' family history. It's definitely interesting and fun to learn, but I'm not able to have that connection and fascination with it simply because I'm not adopted.
I always wonder what my birth mom looks like. Does she look like me, or do my characteristics come from my dad? What were my parents' issues? Would they accept me for who I am? Why did they give me up?
The Russian orphanage system is extremely disorganized and hard to navigate, so I will most likely never learn this information. That makes me feel very lonely sometimes.
2. Living Life in the Unknown
This is definitely something that I've begun to wrestle with as I'm entering adulthood, but there are so many things I don't know about myself.
I don't exactly know why I look the way I do. (Supposedly, it was said that my grandparents MIGHT have been Mongolian, which could explain my dark complexion.)
I don't know who I gained my personality from.
I don't know my family history.
I don't know the medical history of my family.
I don't know if I'm expected to get a cancer or disease. I don't know if I'm prone to alcoholism or addiction.
3. The Horrible Comments
I have definitely been 100% Americanized. I've been here my whole life & definitely don't consider my self very familiar with Russian culture. However, I still get constant ridicule, whether it has to do with my skin color or where I was born:
"You're a communist, right?"
"You look like a terrorist"
"Hey, Genghis Khan"
"You're a dirty Mexican/Mongolian!"
I honestly don't know why I've been called these different things because none of them actually apply to me. If I'm called that, I'll laugh it off because I don't know how to respond. I don't know how to defend myself because I don't particularly like confrontation. I know most of the time that the people who say it are joking, but I really don't think it's something to joke about. There are so many people in this world that are constantly attacked verbally and physically simply for being who they are, and that is WRONG.
Now, I don't want this to seem like I am complaining or whining. My adoption is the only reason I am alive and able to type this today. I wouldn't change it for the world. However, I want people to understand that living without any knowledge of your family or genetics can be lonely sometimes. Every once in a while, I will just sit down & try to imagine what my birth mom and dad looked like... and I can't do it. I have no idea.
So, in conclusion, I just want you to never take any part of yourself for granted.
- Make an effort to learn your identities & be proud of them.
- Learn your race, ethnicity, and your family background.
- Appreciate your family's culture and what makes you different.
- Learn your medical history so you can prepare yourself if you are prone to certain diseases.
Do these things for me... because I sure would love to do them myself.
P.S. Next week's post will most likely be a VIDEO! Not completely sure yet.. if you have anything you want me to talk about, please let me know through social media :)