How Does It Feel To Be Adopted- Rebecca Dolan

adopteehdiftbaHOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

BIO: Rebecca Dolan is 28 years old living in Georgia with her husband. Adopted very early in her life, she only recently discovered via Facebook ,met, and began talking with her birth family. This experience has caused great relief and stress and answered so many questions and raised so many more. Rebecca grew up in the Pacific Northwest, attended culinary school and now works in the food industry. Her passions include cooking, writing and discovering more about her roots

I have a terrible problem with deleting my voicemails, I finally cleaned them out last night and the ones I kept all start with “mija it’s your mom”. I’ve waited my entire life to have someone call me that and some days I wish that no one would. The mess and complication of having two families is not easily explained but I’m going to give it a shot in hopes that one adoptee can feel less alone in the separateness.

Every time I tell the story of my lost and found family it gets easier to process. the idea that this is my story still hasn’t sunk in most days. For 27 years and 8 months I’ve been “adopted”. Its been as a part of introducing myself as my name and when my birthday is. Imagine with me for a moment if introducing yourself to someone, a friend, a coworker and especially a potential suitor had to include a paragraph on why you’re a different color than your parents and why you have no idea what time of day you were born. I’m sure this seems like overshare especially for first dates and things but I feel the need to issue that information as a disclaimer because I say things like “my mom was on drugs when I was born” and people assume that I’m talking about my tiny completely naïve adoptive mother whose never smoked, chewed or hung around boys who did. I’ve always known I was adopted. I never felt like the bond that most of my friends did with their parents and I was aware from a very early age of just how different I was. When I was small I remember my mom reading us a children’s book about adoption and it explained how God gave us to a lady who gave us to our parents because she knew we’d be taken care of. This concept never brought me the comfort I think it was supposed to. This idea that there was somebody in the world who looked like me, acted like me and shared fifty percent of my DNA but in my opinion seemed to have no interest in being my parent seemed like such an unnatural concept when every part of who I was screamed like a girl at a Bieber concert to know who she was.

In addition to be always told that I was adopted, I was also always told that my mom was on drugs when I was born, that my grandparents who had custody of me and my siblings gave me up as a selfless act of concern for my welfare and that “no one really knows who my dad was because my mom was a mess” I carried this around for 27 years and wondered about these people who my adoptive family had always said were German and “a little bit Spanish”. In addition to always knowing I was adopted I also always knew that I wasn’t white. Being Hispanic seemed as normal to me as my adopted brothers being Guatemalan was. When I brought it up,my adoptive mom was always quick to remind me that “you’re white we don’t really know what you are” which left me feeling more confused and unwanted than I started before I had asked the question. Most children don’t struggle with the concept of race and which bubble to fill in on standardized tests unless they’re in a situation where it’s apparent how much they don’t belong. People often tried to tell me “you look just like your mom” unfortunately the truth of the matter was that my adoptive mom is at least 3 shades lighter than I am and built like a 12 yeartire life to have someone call me that and some days I wish that no one would. The mess and complication of having two families is not easily explained but I’m going to give it a shot in hopes that one adoptee can feel less alone in the separateness. Every time I tell the story of my lost and found family it gets easier to process. the idea that this is my story still hasn’t sunk in most days. For 27 years and 8 months I’ve been “adopted”. Its been as a part of introducing myself as my name and when my birthday is. Imagine with me for a moment if introducing yourself to someone, a friend, a coworker and especially a potential suitor had to include a paragraph on why you’re a different color than your parents and why you have no idea what time of day you were born. I’m sure this seems like overshare especially for first dates and things but I feel the need to issue that information as a disclaimer because I say things like “my mom was on drugs when I was born” and people assume that I’m talking about my tiny completely naïve adoptive mother whose never smoked, chewed or hung around boys who did.

I’ve always known I was adopted. I never felt like the bond that most of my friends did with their parents and I was aware from a very early age of just how different I was. When I was small I remember my mom reading us a children’s book about adoption and it explained how God gave us to a lady who gave us to our parents because she knew we’d be taken care of. This concept never brought me the comfort I think it was supposed to. This idea that there was somebody in the world who looked like me, acted like me and shared fifty percent of my DNA but in my opinion seemed to have no interest in being my parent seemed like such an unnatural concept when every part of who I was screamed like a girl at a Bieber concert to know who she was. In addition to be always told that I was adopted, I was also always told that my mom was on drugs when I was born, that my grandparents who had custody of me and my siblings gave me up as a selfless act of concern for my welfare and that “no one really knows who my dad was because my mom was a mess” I carried this around for 27 years and wondered about these people who my adoptive family had always said were German and “a little bit Spanish”. In addition to always knowing I was adopted I also always knew that I wasn’t white. Being Hispanic seemed as normal to me as my adopted brothers being Guatemalan was. When I brought it up,my adoptive mom was always quick to remind me that “you’re white we don’t really know what you are” which left me feeling more confused and unwanted than I started before I had asked the question. Most children don’t struggle with the concept of race and which bubble to fill in on standardized tests unless they’re in a situation where it’s apparent how much they don’t belong. People often tried to tell me “you look just like your mom” unfortunately the truth of the matter was that my adoptive mom is at least 3 shades lighter than I am and built like a 12 year boy.

My search for my birth family began when I was in 4th grade and I found a piece of paper that had both of my birth parents names on it. This changed the rules for me. I finally had concrete proof that my birth father was a person known to my mother and acknowledged as my dad. I wrote down their names on a piece of paper and carried them around until I was an adult. On a scrap of paper I wrote “Lana Rosales” and “Andrew Matthew Ronquillo”. I took the paper and hid it in the drawers of an American Girl doll that my aunt had given me. I had a lot of reasons for being secretive but the biggest was that my parents were so secretive about the details of my adoption. My mother also had an unusual habit of tossing my room looking for contraband like I was in prison. Starting in junior high ,when the random room searches became a frequent event, I began to carry the piece of paper with me hidden in a pocket in my backpack and sometimes on my person in case she searched my bag. While sitting in a computer lab in junior high I took out that crumpled piece of paper and carefully googled “California birth records” I found my original birth certificate that listed my name as “Destiny Anne Ronquillo”. I felt like throwing up and crying at the same time, finally the concept that I started as someone else wasn’t something I had cooked up in my angsty brain but it was an anchor I could sink into the sea of insecurity called biracial adoption. In my naivety I excitedly told my mom and the reaction was exactly the opposite of what I had hoped it would be. She screamed and yelled and cried and grounded me from using the computer and told my teacher that I wasn’t allowed to use google without supervision anymore. All I wanted was for her to be excited for me and celebrate my roots with me but as with everything in my life she took it as an affront to her parenting skills.

I’ve tried to explain the particular mystery of being adopted to the people I love the most, but the feeling of being adopted is the most separate and solitary feeling on earth. Most I try to explain it to mistake my feelings of separateness as being ungrateful. They try to point out how messed up my siblings are and how lucky I am to have grown up free of the tsunami like devastation of poverty, addiction and incarceration that my siblings have faced. Yes I am thankful that I was given parents who worked hard to give us a good education and to teach us to be the best we could be. Despite that even in my moments deepest of gratitude, I cannot shake the feeling that I am tumbleweed like in my unanchored rambling through life.

Sometimes being adopted is like having a parasitic twin. It’s like the rain cloud that follows eeyore. It colors every circumstance, every relationship and it’s impossible to get rid of. For those unaware of the psychological sandstorm that follows most adoptees,it seems like a simple and uncomplicated gift. It is the gift of complication and confusion and this is how it feels to be adopted.

Thanks for reading

Rebecca Dolan, Adult Adoptee

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2 thoughts on “How Does It Feel To Be Adopted- Rebecca Dolan

  1. ” the feeling of being adopted is the most separate and solitary feeling on earth”
    So absolutely true Rebecca. I was adopted in 1971, along with my twin sister, to the same family. And yet I STILL always felt/feel almost completely alone.
    Thank you for your story.

    Gareth Price

    New Zealand

    Liked by 1 person

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