Word of the Day: Altered
Hopewaits left a comment, in which she wrote, "I believe all of us who were adopted have been so altered (even if you don't know it and think everything is O.K.)"
What an awesome, perfect word!!! (Thanks, Hopewaits!)
Besides, "to change or to make different," altered also means, "to adjust for a better bit."
And that, folks, is exactly what happened.
I simply did not fit in with my adoptive family. In looks, temperament, intellect, disposition.
My adoptive mother kept trying to make me fit. She gave me haircuts that did not suit me in an attempt to make me "match" her. She dressed us in matching outfits until I was nearly thirteen. She even tried to tell me what to feel. Clearly, whatever I was and felt were not acceptable.
With no other options - where else would I go? - I also made painful adjustments in an attempt to fit in. I pretended to be a party girl because my adoptive mother was a determined anti-intellectual. In high school, I became fashionable because she cared, greatly, about make-up and clothes. I never discussed the books I read or what I'd learned because, she complained, these topics were boooring and I was acting,"all snobby." (Using a big word in a sentence got me a mocking at the dinner table)
Pretending to be something you are not leaves little time for discovering who you are.
Not all adoptees have adoptive parents as woefully undereducated, ignorant or self-centered or insecure as mine. Of course. But, faced with an entire cohesive family system, the adoptee stands alone. And tries to fit in. What other choice does she have? All of her energy, most of it subconcious, will go into making tweaks and adjustments because the fit needs to be improved. She is out of sync, even if nobody else notices it.
And when, finally, she leaves the adoptive family system and strikes out on her own...that's when things can get tough. What does she do with all these quirks of character that she may no longer need? Who is she without these modifications? Who is she when she meets her first family and sees the bits and pieces of herself that she may have had to deny or suppress? How does she go about reassembling herself? How does she know what parts are real or fake?
The good thing is, if you had controlling adoptive parents and have left them and the pretense behind, you have more time to figure out who you actually are.
But there's no getting away from the fact that adoption alters the adoptee in a way that does not impact the adoptive parents or the first mother. And I'm not talking about pain or suffering or loss. I'm talking about the identity development of the adopted individual. It's like trying to make a rich soup without broth.