It’s spring cleaning season; the time of the year where we do the deep clean, purging, organizing and ridding of the dust bunnies that have been kept snug and warm in our homes all winter. As I was participating in this ritual, I came across a handful of old letters, dated around the time I was adopted. My mom had written down my responses to questions she had asked me about the whole process.
“Sometimes kids don’t want to get adopted. Sometimes they’re scared. Maybe they’ll take a time out. I like to be happy when we go to court. Sometime I be sad. Sometime I miss grandma and grandpa. I moved in a new family. I’m happy when I move in a new house. Mom and dad love me. You live in a family. You get some toys. You get Christmas time.”
“When you get adopted sometimes you get mad. I be scared to have a new family for a while. I’m not scared anymore, I am happy. I just love when I have a mom and dad. I care for mom and dad. I was mad I wasn’t going to see grandma and grandpa for awhile. I feel happy.”
I stared at those papers. Although they were over two decades old, the impact they had on me was powerful. I felt the pain this little girl was trying to communicate. I saw the confusion, the sadness and longing to be happy. I heard the little voice searching for stability and acceptance.
That little voice was mine.
Within the past few years, I have become more and more involved in the world of adoption; sharing my voice, my story, and raising awareness towards the complexity that adoption entails. I’ve realized there is a wide spread belief that when children are adopted at a young age, they will have no trauma and no emotional scarring. The younger the better mentality is preached between adoption agencies and prospective parents all too often.
Finding these letters speaks volumes against that argument. I was only four when I was adopted. I didn’t have a stable first few years of life, but I wasn’t around drugs, alcohol or abusive environments. There was still trauma. You can hear the desperation to belong, the fear of messing up, of not being good enough, and the longing to be happy even though I was confused and scared.
I hope by sharing these letters, the conversation will change. I hope that there will be more acknowledgement of the trauma and emotional confusion that is so prevalent among adoptees. I hope it shows that children have a lot more insight than may be perceived. I hope that parents can see behind a child’s words, behind the acting out, behind the tears or anger.
Listen to your children because those little voices can make all the difference.