The most powerful insight into what it is like to be adopted comes from the voices of the adoptees themselves. These writings were created during many of the TBA groups.
On a bleak wintry day in Russia, Angela was born weighing 3 pounds 7 ounces. Some babies as small as 3 lbs. do not survive, but this baby said, “I’m here, I’m strong and I’ll survive.” This baby’s world was a sad place at the time as her birth mother wasn’t able to take care of her so she asked the hospital to find the baby a good home. The baby said, “I’m here, I’m strong and I’ll survive.” The baby was brought to an orphanage where she wore old ragged clothes and was not fed enough. The caretakers would never pay any attention to her, and she was never held close because the orphanage thought that it would make her too attached, so if she was adopted it would be harder on her to leave. Shortly after arriving at the orphanage, the baby had to have an operation. She had to endure pain and fear all by herself with no one to comfort her but strangers, but the baby said, “I’m here, I’m strong and I’ll survive.” For most people their lives start when they’re born but for me, my life actually began 8 months later with an American citizenship and the beautiful new name of Abigail. Now I, that baby can say “I’m strong, I’ve survived, and I’m ready for everything that I’m supposed to have and be.” I’m blessed to have been given a second chance at life.
When most people think of a hero they would think of those who are strong, brave, and willing to conquer any obstacle that comes their way. That’s exactly who my mom was and still is. Imagine a world where everything is different from anything you’ve ever known; a new language, culture, and atmosphere. It’s one of the scariest things, but the thought of a love so powerful gave my mother the strength to conquer her mission of making me hers. Living life as an adopted child is a struggle that most people don’t even think about. I live every day with an identity with which I am only half familiar. I live a life with a heart full of curiosity. It’s like a puzzle piece; there are always those missing pieces that take a long time to find. With that comes an immense amount of patience and time as I still haven’t found those pieces just yet, but one day I will.
As I sit around the table with my family I notice we all don’t look the same. An emptiness that can only be felt by the touch of adoption. I wonder about the woman who walks around with the same face as I. Who do I see every day looking back at me in the mirror? I envision tigers in the their cage; one gets pulled into the monkey cage, and that one tiger loves those monkeys to death, but will never know what it’s like to experience life in the cage with its own kind. That’s what it’s like to be adopted. I selfishly thank God every day for not allowing my mom to find love; Otherwise, I may not be the daughter she loves today. A bitter sweet story I will always carry with me; it’s like the worst thing that can happen in your life, you suddenly, over time, realize it’s the best decision that anybody could have ever made. I know this because after a long, still continuous journey, I am home.
I have spent the last four years of my life contemplating the truth of my existence.
Growing up, I began to understand what it meant to be adopted but wanted to find out more. Nobody knew anything about my birth father. Later, I would understand why.
It happened on a Friday after school during my freshman year. I was driving with my mom and I stumbled upon the topic of my birth. I asked about my birth father. I didn’t want there to be a gray area in my life story. My mom swallowed heavily and told me my birth mother was raped.
I remembered the photo I have of my birth mom. A plain school photo with a dark blue background, she has red hair, a small smile, perfect posture, and a look of pure innocence. My mind raced around this shocking concept. My birth mother was 19 when she was raped. Looking at her photo, I couldn’t wrap my head around how someone could hurt a person like her, in that manner.
As a result, I began to doubt myself. I thought I was a mistake and had no purpose. I was scared people would hurt me like my birth mother and lost trust in those around me. I couldn’t look at my dad the same way. I learned what true cruelty was and shut down my feelings, “No pain, no gain” became the stupidest saying to me. I couldn’t figure out what gain was coming from the pain I felt. I felt powerless and grew accustomed to spending my time lying around moping.
My goal was to find some purpose as to why I am alive, so my birth mother's pain was not for nothing. I began to study how people found their worth and value. I began reading poetry. One poem was The Layers by Stanley Kunitz. He says, “Wherever I need to go, and every stone on the road, precious to me.” Every step we take through life and every moment is precious.
After feeling the power of Kunitz’s words, I started writing my own poetry to express my emotions without having to go outside and converse with others. I had lost trust in the morals of humanity. This experience made me more aware of the horrors that exist in the world. I felt empathy for my birth mother whom I had never met. Empathy led to compassion, and compassion led to hope.
A turning point occurred on Thanksgiving when I was 16. I am the youngest of 29 cousins on my mother’s side and the whole family came. This was the first time in my life when I finally felt confident enough to share my ideas and thoughts with my older cousins. I remember my uncle taking a photo of all the male cousins together. Ironically, they put me right in the middle, and I knew that I was meant to be there with those people who have guided and raised me. I never should have let my trust in them fade because love will always triumph over sadness. The love of my family will always make me feel whole.
Never question your worth. Since I found my own, I have promised myself that I will live everyday like it is my last. But I don’t hope to live without regrets because I already have them. I regret spending so much time wrapped up in my head instead of living life to the fullest.
One day I hope to have the strength to face my birth mother and thank her for the pain she went through for me to be here.
All programs are facilitated by Susan W. Baron, LCSW and Risa J. Werner, LCSW, co-founders of Touched By Adoption and are held at our offices at 2 Lincoln Street in Westport.