BIO: S.M. Ezeff was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a Master of Arts degree in Counseling. While searching for her birth family, S. M. Ezeff discovered there was a shortage of African American adoptees speaking out and came to realize agency based adoption is still taboo within the African American community. Constantly being asked if her adoptive parents were black, she also learned that being adopted into another black family was somewhat of a rarity. With this in mind, she began openly to share her adoption story and discuss some of the unique challenges that come from being an adoptee of color. After locating her birth mother in 2011, she discovered there were more secrets to unravel. Her birth mother refused to tell her the name of her birth father or introduce her to her own brother. In 2015, DNA research made it possible for her to locate her birth father’s family. Today she continues to search for her older half-brother and does not plan to give up any time soon. She strongly believes the truth will always reveal itself in the end. In her spare time, S. M. Ezeff enjoys traveling, photography, baking, and for the first time ever, genealogy research.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?
Passage taken from: Adopted Out: A Memoir of Closed Adoption and Blackness by S.M. Ezeff.
This indicates the intense struggle that young adoptees deal with even as young children.
I longed for those quiet nights in my room when I could fantasize about who my mother was. I haven’t met an adoptee yet who didn’t fantasize. That’s what you do when you have no reality. You make it up. For years, I slept with a big, pink stuffed bunny. He had long floppy ears and a black nose with chipped paint encircling his tiny nostrils. On the bottom of his left leg was a small patch of crusted, matted dark fur, where I had spilled a can of soda. And around his neck was a floral pink bow tie with frayed, ruffled edges. It was he who knew all my secrets. When I cried, he cried too. When I laughed, he laughed with me. Clinching his plush body around my small arms, I would fall asleep. I dreamt about my other mother. I longed for the day I would be able to see her face. Then there were dark moments when I prayed for her death—why else would she leave a precious little baby? Aren’t all babies precious?
Sometimes in the middle of the night I would pull out my non-identifying information and read it. It was my own private bedtime story. That was all I had of her. She must be real. Why would someone make this up? No one could possibly be that cruel. My young mind was conflicted, but I knew she had to be real. My paper proved it. Even though I couldn’t see God, I knew He existed. Maybe if I closed my eyes and wished really hard, she too would hear my prayers. So that’s what I did. Every night I wished and prayed for her to find me. I asked God to direct my prayers and send me clues so that I would know she too was thinking of me.
In 1997 Celine Dion released the ionic ballad, “My Heart Will Go On.” That was the year of my 16th birthday. Sweet Sixteen is supposed to be a memorable occasion for any girl. Some might say it’s the year you become a woman. As I sat on my bed that day, I wondered if my birth mother was thinking of such a special day in my life. I went through the same anguish every year, but that year it was somehow more painful. My parents took me to see The Titanic and then out for dinner to commemorate the special occasion. I was not in the mood to celebrate. I never expressed my pain to them. Like most adoptees, I hid my feeling. I bottled my emotions. I knew that if I allowed myself to be anything other than grateful I was been ridiculed and scolded. I would be forever deemed as the “ungrateful” and “angry” adoptee. I thought it was better to hide my feelings.
Eventually, I knew I had to find out the truth of my origins and I was determined to once and for all find out if I had been loved by the woman who gave me up.
As an adult, I found my birth mother. I was terribly disappointed. I found a woman who refused to admit she had any feelings for me at all. She treated me like I was just a nuisance. “I just wanted to leave you and go on with the rest of my life.” I will never forget those words. They told me it’s only a small percentage of adoptees who get rejected by their birth mothers. I could not believe this was happening to me. Talk about bad luck.
Within the next few years of being in contact with my birth family, I have been lied to repeatedly and rejected by the people I thought were supposed to love me the most. My birth mother refused to tell me who my birth father was, stating it is none of my business. I have an older brother that she refused to tell me about as well. Other family members are afraid to give me information, because they do not want to upset my birth mother. They remain loyal to her not some “stranger” they just met. I can’t even get a photo of my own big brother. A freaking photo? Imagine that? My birth mother gave him up when he was a toddler. His birth name is Eric Ezeff. I suspect he was raised closely within my own birth family. Growing up as an only child, I had hoped to get an opportunity to know any siblings I had. I don’t know if my brother is a good man or a convicted felon, but I deserve to know the truth. All adoptees do. I will not stop looking for him. If there is anything I learned throughout my journey, it is that the truth will slowly reveal itself in time. The worse thing our birth families can do is lie to us. We’ve already been lied to our entire lives. Please respect us enough to be honest.
Eventually it became clear that I was no longer a part of my own family. Too much time had been lost and too much pain had been caused. That leaves me here today with 2 different families, and I do not feel like I belong in either one of them.
I struggle trying to find a place where I can belong.
Today I still suffer from the trauma surrounding my initial adoption. Then I faced another trauma when my birth mother rejected me for a second time. Most days I am fine, but certain times of the year like birthdays can be triggering, and I feel like the pain cripples me. Most people do not understand adoption trauma, and the sad part is they don’t want to. They would rather hear the comforting lies than the hard reality. The reality is adoption is painful. Adoption is loss. Adoption is a traumatic experience for all parties involved. Even adoptive parents must come to terms with the reality of their own infertility struggles. My adoptive parents were not given the proper education, training, and particularly the counseling that should have equipped them to raise an adopted child.
One of the worst problems I see with adoption is that the mental health community is not adequately capable of helping those of us in the adoption triad. As someone in the mental health profession, I work with psychiatrists, social workers, and other professionals who cannot fathom the word “adoption” or “trauma” in the same sentence. Throughout the time I spent in graduate school, I never encountered another student or professor who understood adoption loss.
It made me sad, but most of all it made me angry.
It made me angry because another generation of uninformed therapist would go out into the world and dismiss another adoptee’s pain. They’d diagnose us with some form of bipolar disorder or tell us to “get over it.” If you choose to seek out professional counseling, I strongly encourage all adoptees to find a therapist who is trained in adoption related trauma. Do not be afraid to ask them.
The good news today is technology is making it possible for adoptees to reconnect with family members every day. A DNA test helped me locate my birth father’s family, who I learned is from Mississippi. The resemblance I have to my family of origin never ceases to amaze me. My birth mother would have a heart attack if she knew I had this much information. Regardless, I will not stop searching for my truth, and I will not be silenced. After all I went through, I know I can’t quit now. If I give up now, it will mean all the pain I went through will have accounted for nothing. No child should have to go through life feeling unwanted or afraid to express their own feelings. I was one of them.
I didn’t know they had other adoptees like me. Please don’t be afraid of the bad stories. I urge you to learn from them. A really special lady once told me, “It’s the truth that sets us and others free.” If my story can help even just 1 adoptee feel validated, 1 more adoptive parent acknowledge the trauma, or 1 less birth mother inflict a 2nd rejection, I will know this was all worth it.
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