Earlier this year I got to take part in the new series of BBC Three Things Not To Say, with my particular topic being adoption & people who’ve experienced life in care. The series, if you weren’t aware, is meant to be a light hearted look into a specific topic, by asking the stereotypical questions that the people taking part get asked a lot. We are then sat down and asked those questions in front of a camera, and are expected to react with humour infused truth. The process took about two and a half hours per pair which was condensed into the six minutes you got to see.
When the people behind the show are seeking people to take part, they ask us to relay to them which questions we’ve been asked before, as well as any scenarios we have found ourselves in. A question that never came up however probably the question I get asked the most when it comes to my experience of adoption is “does it get easier?”
The short answer is no. Well, sort of. It sort of gets easier.
Traditionally, when you are born, you have two parents who raise you love you and who are with you throughout your life for as long as they can be on this earth. They are your parents and they are the people who you are meant to know the longest.
Yet, untraditionally and perhaps more realistically, for one reason or another, sometimes your parents cannot provide you the love and the care that a parent is expected to. Therefore you end up being bounced through the care system (which is nothing like Tracey Beaker, in case you were wondering). Perhaps you end up in an adoption with two people who saw your potential and wanted to give you a chance to succeed.
I will never, ever be able to repay my adoptive parents for doing what they have done. They gave me a chance, they raised me as their own, pouring time, money and love into ensuring I was – and remain – happy. No amount of money or love will ever be enough to show them how truly grateful I am.
Recently, me and my adoptive mum were sat talking about my adoption after an interview I did with Take a Break (hitting shelves soon, I believe!). We both agreed that although factually she isn’t my birth mum, we never ever question the mother-son bond that we share. We go through life with this as our norm and sometimes for me personally, I have to almost remind myself that she adopted me when I was a baby. Rather cliché but she is my best friend – and the one person who I can always call my safe house.
But then, on the other hand, one underlying factor remains true. My birth mother couldn’t keep me, (more she couldn’t be bothered raising me in my case) and my real dad has never been anywhere to be seen – apart from one time last year when he was my bus driver. Nothing will ever change that fact, and it is something that rears its ugly head occasionally.
That resentment is something I will touch upon another time, but it is something that comes in waves. From time to time, I stop in my tracks and realise how bitterly disappointing it is to be adopted. It’s not something I am ashamed of, but it leaves the adoptee feeling like a disappointment, that we weren’t good enough for the two people we should have been good enough for, and so a downward spiral begins.
It does get easier, in short, to live life as an adoptee. I think especially as we enter our twenties and start being able to truly the carve the life we want to carve. We get to choose the people we call home and with them at our sides we begin to build the foundations of the rest of our lives. But, it does hold me back too. I recently started seeing someone new, he truly is amazing with his patience when it comes to these topics. But during the typical get to know each other conversations, I realised that I have a deep rooted fear of starting my own family, of raising my own children. Because the story of my birth parents is so wrapped in failure on their part, it has almost placed an echoing voice of doubt in the back of my mind. Because they failed me, I am so terrified that one day I will fail my children. We all know this to be wrong, as we witness me idolising Ruby and Martha (my nieces) on social media. I even was recently named the “Best Uncle of 2019” in our house. But that doesn’t necessarily make my fears go away.
So does it get easier? No. It doesn’t. I find that as you navigate through life as an adoptee, you face more emotional obstacles. The self doubt of your future parenthood. The abandonment issues you are left to deal with alone and the pent up resentment you have towards your parents are always there, scratching away in a tiny corner of your brain. But what does get easier is the way in which we deal with it. Over time, adoptees almost develop a second skin, an armour if you will. We march on through life determined to make something of ourselves, as if we have something to prove to the world. And that determination allows us to muster through the obstacles, leaping over them in order to carry on running the marathon, if you will.
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