Who am I?
I am me.
I am adopted. ‘A rose by any other name is still a rose.’
What does that mean exactly? Being adopted is part of my identity but it does not define me.
This is a strong contentious statement. One that people assume many things about. I might not have existed should abortion be legal? Again – this is a contentious argument (BTW I am pro-choice – that is another debate for another time). If I did not exist I would not know. Telling people I am adopted provokes strange emotions in them. Generally when I tell people I am adopted their first reaction is pity or they say ‘I am sorry’. This is so wrong. Why assume it’s bad?
Why is anything unusual or not common or unknown wrong or bad? I am who I am because of my DNA but also because of my upbringing and life lessons. This spurs yet another contentious debate – nature vs nurture, but I want to tell you my story.
Growing up, like any child –we sometimes think we are overly special and sometimes not special at all. I can’t remember a time I didn’t know I was adopted although I might not necessarily have known all that it meant. I would use it as ammunition on the playground or with friends. I remember once when I was about 6, saying to a friend at the time “I am adopted”; well he replied, “Well, I am allergic”. So knowing and ‘KNOWING” were completely different.
I didn’t fully understand the meaning although I did know that it meant my family was not my biological family. Like most things concepts, theories and ideas need to be taken in context. My parents got married and wanted children, lots of children. My father, from a big Lebanese family and my mother from a divorced household, both shared the value of what they wanted a family to be: a big united unit. They tried for the first 5 years of their marriage to fall pregnant, despite the treatments and operations all to no avail. It was my mother’s gynecologist who first suggested adoption. He had another patient who was pregnant but didn’t want the baby. It was a match made in heaven, and I was adopted.
A few years later after adopting me, they adopted my brother and then surprisingly enough, my mother fell pregnant 3 times with my 3 sisters.
I had an amazing childhood from farms in South Africa, to yachts in the Caribbean, golf course estates in Texas, to Dairy Farming in Vermont, all girls posh school in Connecticut, a university in Switzerland and California – lived it all. To living in lavish lifestyles to slumming it in the back of a van. I more than survived my childhood – I relished it.
I learnt all I could, and I had the best family support system. Throughout all the moves, we became best friends.
Throughout the years though, I imagined my biological mother might have been a drug addict or prostitute, or both. I then imagined her a princess giving me up under duress.
So when we moved back to South Africa I took the opportunity to make the stories in my head real and I contacted a social worker who found her a day later. Living in Johannesburg. Again it was meant to be. Meeting her and her meeting my family was the best I could have imagined. I now have a biological mother and 2 other beautiful sisters to know and love.
So the moral of my story is everything is meant to be and we decide we decide to make it difficult or to learn and grow from it. We also define our own identity. Knowing where I come biologically can explain some of me but I decide who I am. Nature vs nurture is a cocktail mix I decide, but knowledge is power.
I am me. A sum of all my parts.