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Perfectionist or Rebellious? Which One Were You?

June 14, 2017

 

While growing up, after being told you were adopted -  were your adopted parents forthcoming to you, in a way that made you trust them? Trust what they told you of how you were placed into their homes? Were you truthfully told what kind of people your birth parents really were? Or were you given a story, that would be passed down from generation to generation, until you really finally figured it out? If you have. 

 

I often think about when I was a small child of eleven years of age, and away at a sleep away camp hundreds of miles from my adopted home - where I was so aggressively told by an older cousin "you are not our real family, cause you were adopted!!"......Wow! I still shudder when I think of that comment. The impact, I remember, completely through me for an undeniable loop. That day, I was just another happy camper, playing Jax on the floor of my cabin. And then, I am not who I thought I was? What?

 

I was recently asked if being adopted had affected me in my life?  My answer:  It definitely has. I do not have any memory of what happened the rest of that awful day, other than my adopted parents were flying across the country to take me out of camp. That is it, no recollection! I can not remember how my adopted parents reacted to me, or to the situation with my cousin. How they consoled me, or how they explained anything to me. Or even why my "real parents" had given me away. How did I wind up with theses people? What the heck is being adopted??  Who were they, who was I? I can sort of chuckle now, because at that time my favorite children's book was 'Are You My Mother?', by P.D. Eastman'. That book was a trusted friend for me back in the late 1960's, we had similar issues! Who WAS my mother? 

 

I know from other adoptees, and social workers - that we either grow one way or the other. We either tend to be perfectionists as children, not wanting our adopted family to send us back. Trying to live up to who we think our adopted parents want us to be like, and not wanting to disappoint. Or we end up like me, rebellious. I have an understanding now, that my insecurities played a big part. Was I being that way because that's how my birth siblings or parents would act? Is that my authentic personality?  It had to be serious, my adopted parents sent me to therapy!! Were they hoping to fix a problem they had essentially created? I was one of the unfortunate adoptees, who was never told (before age 11) that I WAS adopted, or what that even meant. I felt alone.  I think for those reasons, I was the rebellious adoptee. Being rebellious was MY way of finally being in control of my life.  It was my choice, right? And finally, at age of 18, I made the ultimate decision of my own..... to search!! I was able to finally, find me. Of course, I am no psychologist, or social worker, but I do feel that being adopted has been a life long struggle, for me. For others, maybe not so much. You are the lucky ones. 

 

Adoptees, don't always know why we do what we do. Some of us go the perfectionist route and others like me, rebellion all the way. Either way, we end up at the same place, in a world of other adoptees, struggling with the same fears, the same hopes, the same fantasies of our 'birth life', and our dreams of one day being complete. We are adopted. I am not rebellious anymore - and I think I am starting to understand, that being adopted has shaped me into who I am today. A compassionate adoptee. And I am good with that. So? Which one were you?   

 

Dedicated to K.G.