When we are born, we begin a journey that unfortunately ends with death. But this isn’t about the end result, for a change. You see, when we begin the journey, we go through the motions and milestones that come with being alive. We grow from babies to children to stroppy teenagers and eventually to the feared phase of adulthood. We learn in school and perhaps go onto bag ourselves a degree. Somewhere along the way we might fall in love, finding our human to share a life with.
But as somebody who was adopted, somewhere in between all that, an unusual event took place. I call it in the Second Wave, but I am sure there are some experts out there who have found a much more apt name.
I have always been aware that I was adopted. It has always been my story. It was never a secret in our house and it was something that we openly discussed. I thought I was accepting and understanding of my situation, but when I hit my teenage years, I took the typical step of rebelling one step further. I completely hit back at anything my parents said, I would sometimes remind them that they couldn’t tell me what to do, because they weren’t my real parents. I would be completely oblivious to the fact that they are my real parents regardless of birth until I reached my late teens. When I turned 18 and began to think I was an adult, I mellowed in my bitterness and began to understand the chain of events that had gotten me to the point I was standing at. I accepted why my birth-parents were incapable of raising me. I allowed the love my adoptive-parents presented me to really sink in and I was truly happy with where I was at.
And then came the Second Wave.
Around three years ago, I wrote my first piece on adoption, sharing my story of adoption and the resentment that came with it. It was in the early days of DanCooleDaily being less about lifestyle and more about mental health. I wrote a spiel about how I hated the people who gave me up, but was caught in a conflict because I adored the people who accepted me as their own. It’s a conflict we have discussed many times before, you and I. What I didn’t realise at the time was that I hadn’t truly accepted my situation, and had perhaps been too quick to presume I had.
As adults, we begin to create the life we have always wanted. We take a blank canvas and begin to sculpt the ideal scenario, tweaking our skills and brush strokes with degrees and marriages and all thats in between. But when you’re adopted, you have to begin building that life you want from an early age, because you feel the need to prove to the world that you aren’t going to become another statistic. And so, in turn, you grow up quicker too, because you are sometimes left to fend for yourself. All of this combined means that processing the ins and outs of your adoption happen at a younger age – I was turning 18 when I first thought I understood my adoption.
But then came the Second Wave.
Looking back, just when I thought that I had a solid footing in the adult world, I was actually losing grip of the progress I had made. My resentment began to resurface, only this time it was worst. The Second Wave is a lot worst than the first wave – let me tell you why. I started to look around me and see some of my friends settling down and having children of their own. As I was introduced to the new arrivals, I started to understand what parents mean when they say they’ve never felt love like they feel with their children. As an adult processing this, my thoughts turned to my parents we clearly didn’t feel the love that they should have. Slowly, I began to process my adoption all over again, only this time it was with grown up eyes and I didn’t like what I was seeing. I was finally starting to feel the true anger towards the two people who abandoned me. It’s the only time I can honestly say I hated somebody. There was a period in my life where I was so consumed by overanalysing everything when it came to my adoption story that in turn I was creating answers to the anger fuelled questions I was asking myself. I was bitter. Very, very bitter.
And then, just like every stormy sea, the wave settled.
I can’t tell you the exact moment the waters calmed, but I can tell you that where resentment and bitterness stood, absolutely nothing stood. I no longer feel anything towards my birth parents. I sometimes wonder what I would say if we were ever to be in the same room again, and if I am completely honest with you – I would say nothing. I no longer see her as anything but another human being in this world. If I had to feel anything at all, it would be disappointment.
There will almost certainly be a third wave somewhere in the future – and perhaps a fourth and a fifth. Maybe these waves will keep on coming for the rest of my life. Whilst I am dreading its return, I feel la lot more confident in my ability to process it. I would like to think that I am strong enough to fight it, but I think that there is the issue. There is no way to fight it, there is no way to predict where it will take us, my only advice to all of you adoptees – and adopters too – is to ride the wave. Allow it to come, wash over you and give yourself the chance to soak it in. Because I feel that these waves, whilst unpleasant are a necessary step in processing the grief. Adoption is a lot like grief, we mourn the people who should have been our parents, one day they give birth to us and the next they don’t exist.
Allow yourselves to process your grief with each wave that comes. It allows you be clean of the resentment and guilt that builds up over time.
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