‘What does it mean to be adopted?’ I was asked.

Exposing roots


It means you look into the mirror and your face disappears behind the silver backing.  No one you know is reflected there.  You would see if you could see, no familiarity, only difference.

It means you look into your amother’s eyes and nothing is reflected from the dullness of depression brought on by hostaging another woman’s child.  She knows she will never know the child she holds.

It means grandma will sit with you and read the Ten Commandments and know she did well to love and not leave her alcoholic husband.  A virtuous woman, her children were born in the marriage bed.  Being adopted means they think your mother was a slut, and you will be like her.  ‘The sins of the father . . .’ is whispered as you pass.

Being adopted means you see the poster read the words sing the hymn and know ‘Jesus loves all the little Children, all the little Children of the World.  Red brown yellow black and white they are precious in his sight . . .’ so you have a friend.  But he is not here so you conjure him and he comforts you.

He comforts you when They ask; ‘Where did you get that olive skin, those big brown eyes?’   You think of the spaniel in the pet shop with big brown eyes begging to be taken home to be taken home by anyone anyone who might want you.  These people have not studied genetics, do not know two blue eyed parents can’t have produced you but they know something, they know how to make you anxious about your very being.

Being adopted means when someone does take you home and you are sexually abused it was always expected; you were destined to be a slut like your mother.  You didn’t wear your burka on your bike.

Being adopted means you are second-hand, and you could be third- or fourth-hand.

Being adopted means you find hope in the tale of the ‘Ugly Duckling’.  Somewhere there will be a Swan Family who will give you your own voice, because honking quacks and quacking honks don’t make good music.  Your skin will match and your plumage will be fashionable and your feet will fit.

Being adopted means you want clothes with pockets, you always put something in your pocket, you know about the wicked stepmother and you don’t know if that’s the same as your amother, you just know some LAW made her your mother, but the law can’t make her keep you.  You have a map of the land in your head and you learn to memorise routes.  You will find your way home.

Being adopted means you understand why Heidi had nightmares in Clara’s house.  Her mother died and she was re-located to other relatives in the Swiss Alps.  She settled in and worked hard to be loved, but They found her a more suitable place to be.  She was to be a healing companion to a disabled child in a wealthy family.  Clara was cured but Heidi was hi-jacked.   Being adopted means having everything a girl could want is not enough.  Nothing will ever be enough until you look into the eyes of the woman who would have kept you if she could have kept you.  Until you are told your life was not a mistake; you don’t have to prove your worth day after day after day.  She was not a slut; you are not a slut.

Being adopted means you wait for your mother to tell you, she gave life to you, and she wants you to live it; live it no matter what.  She knows your pain; it is her pain too.  She has to believe it was all for the best.

Being adopted means you look into and choke and look and choke in the eyes of your first born child, your first known flesh and blood.  You know the myths of motherhood.


About sofie gregory

I'm an adoptee; co-founder of the group IdentityRites - peer support and advocacy for adoptees.
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