Adoptees and the Extended Family
At least, that's what I've said.
That said, oddly enough, I always felt like I was a member of the family.
My aunts fussed over me. So did my maternal grandmother who always cooked something special when I visited. My paternal grandmother got stuck with me almost every weekend and she was always sweet. Maybe they knew just how lousy I had it with my self-centered adoptive parents and were trying to make up for it.
But now that I look back on it, I don't think that even these kind folk saw me as one of them. I was just too different. Now that I'm an adult, I suspect they felt sorry for me. I also believe there was a lot of talking amongst themselves about me and my quirks and why I was the way I was.
Why do I suspect this?
First, my adoptive family was a closed family system. Suspicious of outsiders.
Second, since I don't run around with "Adoptee!" stamped on my forehead, I pass for regular folk in the community. So at parties people tell me about me about the (usually weird) adopted kid in their family or at my local bookstore the owner tells me about the quirks of her adopted grandchild and the other day at Starbucks, I overheard a woman (loudly) discussing her Guatling niece and attachment or the lack of it and the trouble the little girl was having at pre-school and how, well, quirky she is.
See what I'm getting at?
Despite all this adoption is wonderful business, when you bring a kid into a nuclear family, the extended family is going to have their own opinion. While few dare say anything to the adopted family's face, they say it behind their backs. I've heard it. Believe me.
So that's what I think went on in my family.
And I can prove it.
Besides a cousin telling me I didn't belong to the family and that's why I was so weird, there also seemed to be a lot of whispering and sideways glances. And when I'd look up, they'd have that guilty look on their face people get when they've just said something bad about you. Plus, after my adoptive mother died, her side of the family just sort of drifted off, probably because they no longer had to pretend they liked me. (For the record, I am very close to one cousin because her mother is a narcissist, too, so we've bonded)
Of course, not all adoptess have this experience. Some do. For those of us who do, we're like poor Fanny in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. Somebody to take pity on and help, but not the same as the primary children, her quirks of character to be examined and noted.
There's that word again. Quirk. Quirkish. Quirky.
In our adoptive families, we're quirky. But when I met my first family, I was just like them. Or at least parts of me were. This has nothing to do with how I feel about them. But at least I'm finally not quirky.
Hah. A word could not describe us better!
Quirk: 1) a pecularity of behavior;
2) A TRICK OF FATE.
And that is exactly what happened!
Fate has tricked me.