How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? – Maria Gatz

img_3275BIO: My name is Maria and I was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky. I spent a handful of years in the mountainous beauty of East Tennessee, but have always seen Kentucky as home. I was adopted from birth by two of the most loving and supportive parents a girl could ever dream of and then blessed with the best brother in the world when I was ten years old. As a Dominican-Mexican female with an African-American brother and Caucasian parents, our adoption story was no secret and both my brother and I knew how to tell our own stories from a very young age. Our adoptive parents have always been supportive of us having relationships with our birth families. I was fortunate to meet my birth parents and additional family members five years ago and am still processing how to develop proper relationships with so many wonderful people that I instantly fell in love with. I have also had numerous and diversified opportunities in working with children and youth ranging from 0-18 years of age for more than fifteen years. I am a passionate individual driven by mind, body, and soul. I love psychology (with special interest in behavioral science), health and wellness (especially the gym and fitness, as well as mental health), and have quite the art heart (with a love for it all but holding a special place for dance!). There have been ups and downs, c’est la vie, but there’s never been a dull moment. God has proven Himself to be so good and so faithful through it all. I am truly blessed!

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

Legacy of an Adopted Child

Once there were two women

Who never knew each other

One you do not remember

The other you call mother

Two different lives

Shaped to make yours one

One became your guiding star

The other became your sun

The first gave you life

And the second taught you to live it

The first gave you a need for love

And the second was there to give it

One gave you a nationality

The other gave you a name

One gave you a seed of talent

The other gave you an aim

One gave you emotions

The other calmed your fears

One saw your first sweet smile

The other dried your tears

One gave you up

It was all she could do

The other prayed for a child

And God led her straight to you

And now you ask me through your fears

The age old question unanswered throughout the years

Heredity or environment

Which are you a product of?

Neither, my darling –neither Just two different kinds of love.

-Author Unknown

I grew up with this cross stitched and gifted to me by my dear Aunt Brenda. I’ve had this framed for 30 years and the meaning behind this poem grows deeper and deeper daily. What does it mean to be adopted? How does it feel to be adopted? For me, the answer to both of these questions can be summed up in a single word – EVERYTHING. There’s a certain role and understanding that you’re born into, that must develop and grow up with you. To be born into adoption is to be born into both blessings and burdens. There is both beauty and pain. There is triumph and tragedy. There is a lifelong battle for balance to be had in being born into adoption.

My adoption has and always will mean everything to me.

I was created with a purpose and made up of the DNA of two incredible people. They were young and they had their whole lives ahead of them; so out of love, they gifted me to two more incredible people that were at a place in their life to love a child they could call their own. Now, was it as simple as that? Of course not, life and love never are – but, they can be. There are complexes created in the life of an adopted child and all the people involved; but then again, I believe simplicity is simply complexity resolved. I have three families and no divorce. And when I say I have three families and no divorce, I’m simply acknowledging my adopted family, my birth mother’s family, and my birth father’s family. I’m not including my church family, my friend family, my fitness family, my work family, and other families of choice.

You see one of the complexes of life as an adoptee – is pushing past the extremes to even begin to obtain some sort of balance. Family is one of the easiest and one of the most difficult things I’ve had to help me identify and develop this concept of understanding. I’ve talked with many adoptees over the years and extremely put, either you are able to view “everybody” as possible family OR “nobody” can be seen as family. Enter the created complex of abandonment vs attachment: I can’t attach to you, you might leave me OR you’re going to leave me VS I need you. I can’t live without you. You can’t leave me. Then, the adoptee begins a search for significance in life, trying to find his or her place with people in this world.

Was I left from the beginning, laying out a pattern of what the rest of my life will look like? Or am I everything anybody could have ever wanted? Am I destined for a life of disconnect and detachment? Or am I needy and overly attached? Have I been set up for a life of detrimental codependency or will I be a life-long interdependent? Could I ever make it on my own? Will I ever find a balance? Will I ever have a family of my own? There are a lot of thoughts that go through an adoptees head. And just when you thought you had exhausted all the thoughts that come with ‘what does it mean to be adopted,’ enter –matters of the heart. How does it feel to be adopted? Well…as an adoptee, currently in my life’s journey, I’m open to new feelings to be had; because, I’m not sure of many feelings that I haven’t yet felt through, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, as lives have turned into legacies. I’ve been a deeper feeler in my lifetime than I’ve been thinker. I was sure I had it all felt and figured out.

I always have been ‘the emo-child’ of the family. Thank goodness my brilliant mother was always there to encourage my discouraged mindset and remind me that my EQ (emotional quotient) was, is and always will be through the roof. My whole family feels quite deeply.

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My Brother & I

There’s a great deal of love invested into this family of four. My brother and I are both adopted and have very different adoption stories; but, he is also the only one in the world that knows what it’s like to be a child raised by OUR incredible set of parents. There’s a lot of love felt within this family of four and we have all been highly blessed time and time again, both in our home and out in the world as we see it. So again when asked, how does it feel to be an adopted child? It depends on when you’re asking, but at the end of the day, it feels a lot.

As the young woman that I am and continuing to grow to be daily, how have I found a peace of mind and heart in what it means to be adopted? Or how it feels to be adopted? “For HE himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility—“ Ephesians 2:14 I have surrendered to the fact that I cannot think everything nor can I feel everything. I am not God. I’m just little ole me – a beautifully blessed human being. And for me, that beauty was found in my brokenness and all around it.

I’ve always believed in the beauty of the brokenness.

Sure, it can feel like a heavy burden to bear sometimes. I just had this conversation with my papa. I was born to be different. I was born into being different. The thing that makes me the most different of all, I chose to like and embrace different as good. And when I question if different really is good… I go straight to The Source. My Maker. My Creator. The One, in whom I believe, has called all of us to tap into our identity, as a part of the same family – His family, the family of The Living God. You see, I believe we’re all called to accept our title as adopted. “He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and his will—“ Ephesians 1:5 But from one adoptee to the next, to embrace family is a choice. To love, to honor, to obey –to respect. To be who you are destined to be and to fulfill your purpose outside of yourself is not forced. It’s freewill. It’s commitment. It’s a choice of a different kind of lifestyle. Confession…

I’m highly strong willed. But my Heavenly Father sent His Son, my brother and best friend, Jesus Christ to save us all. No matter how strong we think we can be without Him, it’s limited. I learned that one the hard way. And I have yet to meet an individual whose free will has proven strong enough to take on this thing called life on their own.

Thankfully, we are all the same to Him, despite our differences. Our differences are simply personalized gifts of talent to be unlocked and used to bring the family together. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. So ultimately, when you ask, how does it feel to be adopted?

It’s the greatest feeling in the world.

Maria Gatz

Adult Adoptee

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