BIO: My name is Victoria. I’m 20 and still live with my adoptive parents in a small town in England. I’ve always known I was adopted as my parents began introducing the idea as I was learning to read (upon recommendation) I’m glad of this, as it means my adoption has never been covered up as a dirty little secret. I have a younger sister who is also adopted, but from a different birth family. She has never outwardly shown the same interest or curiosity as me in her adoption. I was reunited with my birth mother in 2014 and we have a great relationship, though it still feels like we have been unable to grieve our unresolved issues for fear of hurting those closest to us. I suppose I’m still waiting for the time to feel ‘right’. I was reunited with my birth father towards the end of last year, and we are currently learning where we fit in one another’s lives.
I was born in the UK in 1995 to an incredibly beautiful and selfless woman. This lady wanted to keep her baby very much, but unfortunately circumstances meant she could not care for her little girl in the ways that she wanted to. She knew her baby girl would need the love, support and stability that two parents could bring, and she didn’t feel able to offer this at the time.
I feel very grateful to my birth mother for taking the time to consider the different options available to her. I’m grateful that she chose my name (and grateful to my adoptive parents too who kept my first name as part of my new, full name) I’m glad she had a say in which family her baby would be placed into. I’m sad she had to go through all of the pain and trauma of saying goodbye to her little girl. I’m grateful she took time to visit me for the few months I was with my foster mother. I love my foster mother for the care and attention she gave to me, my birth mother and my adoptive parents.
I’m grateful to my foster mother for the letter she wrote, and the photo albums she made. Without these, I wouldn’t have recognised my birth mother in the crowd that brought us together.
I’m grateful to my birth mother for writing to me during her pregnancy and after. Although I wasn’t allowed to see this letter until I was eighteen (it was kept in my social services file) I’m glad because it meant I grew up knowing I was important to her, and that these weren’t just words fed to my adoptive parents to ‘make me feel better’ It still hurt that she had to give me up, but the proof of her love was there. And for the eighteen years that we weren’t allowed contact, that was all I needed to see me through.
I grew up asking questions. I had a curious mind. I believe now that I knew something crucial was missing. A vital part of me that when I think about it, I still feel the aching space in my chest and cry. I don’t believe, on a conscious level, that I am crying for myself. I almost wish that I could, maybe it would make it easier to grieve and move on. I cry for the circumstance, for the situation. I cry for the times my mother held me, and for the years and moments she wished she could hold me again, and I wished I could be in her arms.
I cry for the rejection that my adoptive mum must have felt every time I would scream, “I want L!” and slam the door. I cry knowing all of the trauma she went through trying for the baby she desperately wanted, but just couldn’t have. I cry thinking about how all of my decisions and curiosities must have hurt her, but with all the gratefulness and love in the world for the support that she has given and gives me every day that I am dealing with this.
I cry for my fathers, because I don’t cry for them enough.
I’m glad we are together again now. I’m glad we all get along. But I am so, so angry. And I’m angry at myself for being angry. I know that it’s my defense; a way to make it not seem real so that when it all comes crashing down and people leave, it maybe won’t hurt so much.
I’m angry because this is my reaction to everything. I’m angry because I’m sad. I’m angry because I am so, so tired of this constant battle within myself. This constant hurting and aching and grieving and losing, that even in the present happiness’ I’m not present at all. “The past is your present” my psychotherapist told me, and nothing has ever rung so true.
I’m angry for adoptees whose voices have been trodden on. I’m angry at a society that stifles our worth. A society that views us as a possession, not a person. A thing to be ‘had’ and passed from pillar to post. I’m so mad that we’re not allowed to be mad.
YES I am grateful. YES I love my parents, my families. YES I am lucky.
YES I still hurt, and I don’t always know why. YES I feel like my identity was stolen from me before I even knew what that was. YES I feel like a ghost, floating around with nowhere to belong, nowhere to place my roots.
We accept that depression can affect anyone, rich or poor. I see my adoption sometimes like I see my depression. I’m rich in love and support, and I have been so, so fortunate. But this shouldn’t mean my experience counts less than the next adoptee who perhaps hasn’t been so fortunate.
We need to stand together as a group. Make our collective heard.
Please believe me when I tell you that I’m grateful, but I still hurt every day. Something was taken from me when I was very young that I will never be able to get back. It was replaced by something wonderful, something loving and kind, but it could never be the thing that I had first. I miss this first thing, those first months, as much as I am grateful for the years of loving kindness that I have been given.
I feel guilty for my birth mother who didn’t have a part in those years, and I feel the same for my adoptive mother for the first months, and the nine months before that.
I place blame on myself, don’t ask me why. Of course I know logically that I shouldn’t feel this way, and I know neither of my parents would want me to either.
But there are feelings, as an adoptee, that you just can’t shake- no matter how illogical that they are. The feelings are so strong that they are overwhelming, so much so that even the illogical becomes a reality, and for some, this is the only reality that they know.
I’m grateful for this incredible community brought together by this wonderful woman, because my feelings here aren’t illogical and they aren’t irrelevant. They are universal amongst friends, a whole other family that I now couldn’t live without.
The pain of an adoptee is powerful and so personal that it can make you feel so alone. This community reminds you that you are not. It has given me back my identity and purpose that so often feels lost.
Listen to our stories, because these are our truths. No one the same as another, but each as valid as the next.
Love us for who we are, not what we are labelled as.
Remember us as individuals. Like anyone we have a past, just that sometimes our past becomes so consuming, that it is our present.
Understand this and learn from this, because this is the only way you will understand us.
Here, we break down barriers to bring about a change that enables future adoptees to not feel so alone in their thoughts and feelings. If I am most grateful for anything, it is the fact that I do have a story to share and a voice to be heard. I have an experience that lights me up, and I’m moving now from a place of numbing grief to hope for a future that has destroyed the ignorance surrounding adoption.
Thanks for reading,