This month’s PAC-UK guest blog is from Niki Winterson, who has an adoption blog called Adopted ID.
A recurring theme of my life has been the assumption from others that because I am adopted I cannot experience the love that I am given. In darker places, when people wish me less well, this has even devolved to the claim that I cannot give love, and this has been the hardest thing of all to bear.
Non-adoptees are many and adoptees are few. Understanding us will always mean deviating your expectations from what is ‘normal’. But if you love us you must try. It is not fair to expect us to do all the heavy lifting. We are trying to understand you. We have more need to try. Our lives depend on it. Yours do not.
Even now it is not possible for me to imagine how people raised in bio-families feel at seeing their own bio-material everywhere - what level of individuation do they feel? What struggles must they go through to achieve separation? For me it is not that way. My individuality was enforced early. My journey is back the other way. So many problems were caused in my life by being processed through assumptions about development which are made to assess people who are living within the biological environment. When the ‘normal’ family unit seeks to align me with its ways of being I fail most tests. I am not like you.
Where you are seeking to individuate, I am seeking to crawl back. I am searching to merge, while you are searching to break away. I am looking for home while you are seeking for independence. And when I find home I am seeking to earn my keep there. It is one of the ways that I show my love.
To be of use is a powerful thing for a non-bio person. I wish to make myself indispensable because I am ultimately, truly as dispensable as the last person out before the biological people are counted in.
I am not your family. I am the second best thing. Who would have chosen to adopt if they could have families of their own? Put it on the table. I am almost your family. I am your half-sister. I am the child you birthed but didn’t raise. I am what you had because you couldn’t have the child you dreamed of. There is nothing wrong with my understanding.
There is nothing wrong with me for not accepting the stories you need to be true in order to round off the difficult edges of your lives.
Do not compound the pain of being the outsider by additionally analysing me as unable to accept love because I do not accept the lie that I am just as much a family member as the biological members, or that I am as privileged as those raised in the natural environment. Don’t gaslight me by suggesting that the problem is that I can’t accept love.
I do love. I do love. I love just as much as you. I love all of you in my half-families. I do not love you half because I have two families. Love is not like that. I love you fully. I suffer loss as you do. I suffer loss twice over as I age. The year I lost my adoptive father and my natural mother’s husband was the hardest of my life. I did not suffer those losses less because I suffered them twice. I suffered the full on body-blows of parental loss twice as most suffer them once. I staggered to my feet with everyone asking what was wrong with me.
I do love. And I have a very clear understanding of the extent to which you love me. There is nothing wrong with my loving or my analysis.
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