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Disclaimer: I am but one person with my own experience. Adoptees are human beings, so of course our feelings and experiences vary from black to white to every shade of grey. I cannot and do not speak for everyone, but will always stand up for everyone to have a chance to speak.

 

 

nelie baby

When I was a baby, my “biological mother “gave me up for adoption.  To date, I am not sure why she let me stay in Princess Alice Adoption Home until I was four months’ old, upon when I was taken into “Foster Care “and only adopted one year later!

I would find out at the age of 42, the true impact that time had on me, as in the sixties, they took a different attitude towards children who will be adopted. (had little to no human contact).  The staff back then only bathed, dressed and fed me, and so many others, so our “bonding and feeling loved” was filled with fear and rejection.

(In those years they thought it best) needless to say it had devastating effects on me throughout my life!

Adoption is how I came to be with my family. I know people, who has gone through similar types of experiences and had to live in “secret “will understand that my journey was truly very confusing!

I “suspected “since the age of 12 that I was adopted, but over the next 30 years, all my attempts to get the truth from my Mother and Father was denied and I was told “I am imagining things” – you are our child.

So, in case you were wondering and because I have shared it with people since I was very young, this is what I want you to know in response to years of questions I had to face…...

 

  1. Foster kids are not like the Foster kids you see in the movies.

Yes, I was in foster care for a while, (almost a year) but I do not have blonde curly hair, a really furry dog or a gang of plucky girlfriends who can sing.

Foster kids are kids. They are not damaged goods. They are children who have endured hardships that many of us cannot imagine; children who deserve safety, security and love. There are thousands of these sweet faces who "age out" of the system at age 18, still without a family to call their own. We ALL need a family.

I still want somewhere to go for Christmas and Family Functions.

I want someone who cares if I have taken my vitamins or who always has a place for me. Don't we all? The difference is that you and I HAVE that. It's likely we take it for granted.

These children still want and need a family but has sadly fallen on their own devices to make sense and to feel they belong and so many have truly sad and lonely lives.

 

  1. Adoptees have different feelings about their own adoptions.

I’ve had questions since before it was confirmed.  I was told to be thankful, and I was extremely upset about being told “you can be grateful and thankful “ that somebody wanted you (am I a dog???) but as time passed and I made peace in my heart, “thankful” is the best word I have for it.

Adoption is where my family came from. Where my love and my life truly began.

Some adoptees will always feel the loss of their biological family or the life they might have known and choose not to be "thankful," and that is their prerogative.

 

  1. Adoption is not something that should be a secret or something that anyone should be ashamed of.

I think that is why it has been a big deal for me. I was lied to my entire life, believing I was their child!  Upon learning at 42 that I was adopted was a tremendous shock and it had a major affect on me. 

I came to learn that If you always know, then it just IS what it IS -- there is never a feeling that someone kept something from you.

For me, however it spiralled me into depression which almost lead to my death!

If you are a parent through adoption, tell your child FROM THE START. Be honest and always keep the lines of communication open. And remember, an adoptee's story is theirs.

I felt so “ashamed” (I viewed myself intelligent), when I learned so late in life that family, friends and most of all my parents lied to me it made me question if I had not mis-diagnosed myself – as I now am the fool!

My advice to my mother was, I loved you as my own mother, and would never have left you, but at 21 I had a right to know. I felt my parents had a great responsibility towards my brother and I to inform us and to help us through the process.  My dad died and I never could talk to him or even tell him that I loved him and blood or not, he was my Daddy!

 

  1. Adoption is NOT a second-best choice for family building; it is just another avenue. 

Not everyone who adopts suffers from infertility. My parents both were infertile but I assure you, though my brother and I was both adopted, I was never second best.

My mother was no less a mother, nor I less of her child, because I was adopted. I was no less of a pain in the butt through my teens or no less sweet and loving as a toddler.

She was no less present and would have taken a bullet for either of us. The time, the attention, the love -- all the SAME. I am not #2!

 

  1. Some adoptees say, "I wasadopted," and others say they "are"; either way, we are many other things, as well. 

I do not wear a badge that says, "HELLO MY NAME IS Nelie AND I AM AN ADOPTEE." I want you to know that I WAS adopted.

I am a million other things besides an adoptee, and I am not defined by it. It is just ONE part of my story, just as it should be for all children of adoption.

Please never refer to a child who was adopted as "the adopted child." He or she is a child.

In their mind, today, they might be a cowboy or a ballerina. When they grow up, they might be a doctor, a parent, a friend, a dog lover or a teacher.

Let them be the million other things as well.

 

  1. While it is not right to judge or to quantify what type of adoption is best, it will happen; others seem to always have an opinion.

Whether it is foster care, domestic infant adoption or international adoption, if it was done to provide a loving home for a child, it is a good thing, and that is all that matters.

No doubt parents through adoption will continue to be asked if they adopted from the same agency as Madonna or how much their baby cost, but people are curious, sometimes ignorant and other times just without manners.

There will ALWAYS be people who judge you, whether it is regarding your sexual preference, choice of hairstyle, your neighbourhood or how you choose to decorate your lawn for Christmas.

People will judge, and adoption is no different. Remember: No matter how you built your family, YOUR family comes first -- ignore other people's judgments.

 

  1. Some adoptees really need to find their birthparents to find closure, or maybe a new beginning -- but not all are the same

I have never met my birthparents and yes, I have tried over and over to meet my “biological mother “and yes, she does not want to be reminded

of that part of her life.

I made a decision to never contact her again.  Although it was heart-breaking, I respect her wishes and now refer to her as a “surrogate”- not that it makes me feel better, I just moved on and she “prefers “the word “surrogate “, as I think in her mind, she finds peace.  (and again, who am I to judge her)

This is what everyone seems to want to know about when they hear I am adopted. I am not a living Lifetime movie. I reached out and as painful as it might be for me, it is for her. 

I hope my own birthmother has peace and even a portion of the happiness I have known in my life.

Other adoptees might not want to seek out their birthparents.

Adoptees are entitled to whatever feelings about their adoption they have.

We cannot be put in a box; adoptees are individuals and we all have our own thoughts and feelings.

 

  1. Parents' words and reactions are important.

Some children become available because of a loving, thoughtful choice by their birthparent(s) at birth, others because their parents have failed them in some way.

Whatever the reason, if your children came to you through adoption, do not ever badmouth their birth family. Your child may feel it is a judgment on who he or she is if you do.

If my mom was ever asked offensive questions, I never knew. Be the grace. And for heaven's sake, if you are a family member or friend or just chatting with someone, please stop and think before you say something inappropriate in front of a child or even when they are adults.

 

  1. Real is not defined by biology.

My Mom IS my REAL mom. She dealt with tears over math homework and finding prom dresses, and came running when I fell off my bike and picked the gravel out of my knees.

She listened as I poured out my heart over the stupidity of teen boys and loved me beyond my biology.

Mommies through adoption ARE real Moms.

Daddies through adoption ARE real Daddies.

Real in every way. REAL is not defined by DNA, it is defined by L-O-V-E.

  • Adoption is often predicated on some kind of pain or loss.

 

The pain of a birthparent and whatever led them to placing their child.

The fear of the adoptive parents that their child or children might resent them one day for keeping their true identity a “secret “

The trauma of a child who has known things in their life that no child should.

These wounds are not caused by adoption; adoption is often the best solution to very difficult issues.

  • Parents: there is no voice on or about adoption that is more important than YOUR ADOPTEE'S. 

 

I think people make a much bigger deal about adoption than they need to. I just wished that my mother and father told me the truth and not let me fall apart at 42, living a lie.

I feel they “shielded “us in the hope that we could live a normal life, but the entire town knew we were adopted as well as the family and they hinted for years!  It was just me that was “naïve” and “not familiar” with the word “adoption”.  Anger replaced the fear and rejection I felt for not being trusted to know the truth

I knew my parents would have done whatever they had to if I had any need for anything more to help me cope through my journey of self-discovery. It was not pre-determined that I would automatically suffer from any number of issues relating to my adoption. As they were just as ill-informed regarding “closed “adoption (those years)

I was just a normal kid and sometimes I think even some parents through adoption have a hard time accepting that. If you are a parent through adoption, listen to YOUR CHILD, because ultimately, with all the voices you will hear about adoption, theirs is the most important.

Let your child be your guide and please do not ever lie

So, when you hear that someone was adopted, or notice because they look different from the rest of their family, know that so many of the stereotypes about adoption are not true. That we did not just step out of a made-for-TV movie. We are individuals and don't all feel the same way.

 

We are REAL people with REAL families, and there is so much more to us than having been adopted.

And parents, love your child and meet his or her needs, adoption-related or not, because that is what parents do.

Nelie Olivier