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Adoption Gives You a Different Life

Updated: Mar 16

I stumbled upon the social profile of an elementary friend I had lost touch with long ago. As I scrolled through the highlights of her life, I saw she was exactly how I remember. She was more fulfilled and robust after a decade to grow into herself. Now, she is married with a baby. That joyful spirit of her childhood still stains her digital presence. I scroll through her posts and find her making the same silly pose in pictures with her sister. Her feed was scattered with familiar places and faces, practically captured in a time capsule. I stopped on an intergenerational mother's day photo. It showed the family I had known as a child aging gracefully and blooming into the next generation with a pregnancy announcement. I smiled. I had always been rooting for that family. They were nice. It seems everyone is doing well.

Then I suddenly felt a sharp sting. Not jealousy or loneliness, but this sudden sharp awareness that who I was when she knew me is fundamentally not who I am now. I am no longer the 'good adoptee ' struggling to fit in a life and personality that didn't fit me. The brief window of time I shared with this acquaintance is riddled with painful memories of trying to conform without success into the social circles and expectations around me. Indeed, in retrospect, it all feels like a badly rehearsed play, a game of theater that left me lost and empty. Our lives drifted apart because, perhaps, they should never have collided in the first place. We were different people. Even when I was pretending to be in her social group. But I am remiss.

Unlike her, there was no familiar family photo to be found in my feed. No proof of my personhood and people, all aging gracefully, for someone to discover on an Instagram years later. There was no continuity. I didn't even dare keep up a photo of my biological family reunion. In fact, I didn't even know where I was born until I was in my 20's. I didn't even know my inherited name until half a decade ago - when this acquaintance was already planning to carry on her grandmother's name in her own daughter.

Yes. I felt a sting. Adoption gives you a different life...maybe many different lives. And you have to grieve them all.

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