As this year comes to a close, I’ve thought a lot about my path as an adoptee and what has brought me to my current state of mind. Looking back, I can see how much of my life has been mired in guilt, shame, and judgment. , and non-adoptees alike. The lack of respect for lived experiences is something so pervasive that it has taken me many years to be able to acknowledge the pain, much less speak it into existence. Continuing to stay silent would be inauthentic, something that would betray the truth of my lived experiences. Truths that have shaped and impacted my life thus far.
Having been a compliant and agreeable child, I never spoke openly about adoption or adoption-related issues. In the long run, this would only serve to delay my understanding of the complexities of adoption. Feelings of guilt that have plagued me throughout my life meant no one would have assumed I was anything other than “happy.” The reality is that I was far more pained and traumatized than anyone would ever know. Speaking to this as an adult, many have been surprised by my stories and point of view. There has been a tone of disbelief and more attempts to guilt me because I have voiced opinions about my own experiences. No acknowledgment, just guilt, and feigned ignorance.
How many ways can one be shamed? Let me count the ways. To have everything that has been “given to you” thrown in your face is something that brings about an immense amount of shame. It is unmercifully cruel, a last-ditch effort in an attempt to control. Shamed for putting up boundaries, shamed for speaking to past (and unspoken) pain. Instead of validating these experiences, criticism, and centering take its place. On one hand, there is a sense of relief to finally be able to speak to these truths. On another hand, it brings forth a new wave of shame that often accompanies guilt.
For the majority of my life, I have found the judgment around being an adoptee to be soul-crushing. It’s not just judgment from one group or another, it seems to come from everyone and everywhere. Judgment from those close to you and random individuals, it’s as if everyone has an opinion about your lived experiences but no one cares to actually listen to what is being said. If it’s not a narrative someone agrees with, it’s automatically brushed aside and judged. Deemed non-important and non-essential even though it’s a legitimate lived experience. It is hard enough speaking one’s truth without having to justify and rationalize it to those who criticize and judge.
The Path of Most Resistance
Finding my voice has meant taking the path of most resistance. A journey of trial and error, filled with successes and failures. It has felt like it has taken centuries to get to a place where I am finally able to speak truth to power. To be able to be who I am, accepting that I am human and I am beautifully flawed. I think oftentimes one can put pressure on themselves because they aren’t where they think they should be or that they aren’t doing it “right.” When the reality is that they have always been doing the best that they can, the best way they know how.
For someone who has been made to feel nothing was ever good enough, it’s been difficult finding a footing in a place of self-acceptance. While both feet have not always been firmly planted within this space, it has been empowering to finally be able to acknowledge that it’s okay to take one step forward and two steps back. Just because it’s less than perfect doesn’t mean that it is wrong.