Who are my parents?—at some point in life, I think each one of us asks this question. There are those who ask it philosophically to help them figure out more about themselves through examining their roots. There are those who ask it rebelliously and seek to undo all that their parents have “done” to them. And there are those who, like me, ask it simply because we have never met them. We are the adoptees of this world, who for some reason or another, have grown up with parents that grafted rather than bred us into their families.
My parents told me when I was very young that they had adopted me as an infant. I appreciate their honesty with me, but because I knew, and everyone in my church and school knew, I felt that people were always looking at me and saying to each other behind my back, “She’s adopted.” The word soon took on a negative connotation in my mind. I felt like I was walking around with a big red A on my chest that everyone could see. It was a label that I couldn’t get away from, no matter how much I wanted to.
My childhood world was small and sheltered, and there were several other kids in my church that were adopted. Everybody knew who the adopted kids were because they were the worst kids you can imagine (sex, drugs, drinking). Most were older than I, and they all went to public schools (I went to the local Baptist school where nothing like that ever happened, wink). I was always scared that I would turn out like that too, that it was just a natural progression of an adoptee. I felt like being adopted meant you were a “bad seed,” that everyone was just waiting for me to go bad and show my true colors. I felt like everyone pitied these families and thought if only they hadn’t adopted that kid, they wouldn’t have this trouble.
Thinking this way from such a young age quickly had me wondering about my biological parents every day. Because I thought about it so much and my family never openly talked about it, I began to feel that it was one of those dirty little secrets that everyone knew but never discussed, the elephant in the room, if you will. Since they never brought it up, I didn’t want to either. I didn’t want them to think about me being adopted much because I always felt I wasn’t good enough. I worried that one day they would return me to where they got me if I did the wrong thing. A silly thought perhaps, but how realistic is your thinking when you’re seven? Or 12? Or 16?
I remember thinking in my junior year of high school that as soon as I turned 18, my parents’ legal obligation to me and mine to them was over. A typical teenager’s rebellion, I suppose. I planned to leave, mostly because they didn’t like my boyfriend and wanted to keep us apart. Of course I wanted to run away with him, and of course I didn’t. Reality set in, and I figured I had to stay around if I wanted help with my college tuition.
Now that I’m older, I realize that those other adopted kids I grew up with probably struggled with the same things I do: feeling like you don’t belong, feeling different, rejected, unloved. Maybe we feel like our whole existence was a mistake. Maybe we feel like our “real” parents rejected us and we’re unworthy of anyone loving us because of it. Maybe we feel like we were a last resort for our adoptive parents so they settled for someone else’s unwanted kid.
I struggled with these thoughts and feelings for a long time. Then one day I realized something. If I believe that God planned me, that He specifically created me and placed me on this earth to be a certain person and accomplish certain things, I have to accept that He put me in this environment for a reason. This made me realize that most people only have two parents to shape who they are in regard to genetics and personality and how they combine to create an individual. God had such great things for me to accomplish that He knew it would take four people to create my complicated self. Two parents gave me my good looks and strong immune system (thanks, wherever you are), and the other two created the environment in which I grew up and helped me develop into who I am today. I am one of a kind. I am special. I am loved.
So who are my parents? I may never know. But I know that I have a Father in heaven who planned for and loves me, and from the first I have been His.[Stories on RELEVANTmagazine.com are user-submitted. The viewpoints expressed are the opinions of the author and do not necessary reflect the opinion of RELEVANT magazine. For exclusive in-depth stories, subscribe now to RELEVANT magazine. If you are interested in submitting an article, please check out our writers guidelines.]