She tells us about the impact of not knowing her roots
and how adoptive love can illuminate the fog of the past.
My name is Ana G. and I’m an adoptee.
This is how I have always defined myself because I feel that adoption has conditioned my life. I feel adopted.
I was born in Marbella and, my adoptive mother and father, adopted me because they could not have biological children. Ana and Paco were not young when they adopted me, as they were already 50 years old.
I was adopted when I was very young. I was three days old when I was picked up from the hospital.
My parents told me that they had been waiting for babies for many years. They had applied for adoption in many autonomous communities, but it never happened. Those closest to my parents knew of the need, especially my mother’s, to be a mother; she wanted it with all her might. And one day, a neighbor told my mother that she knew a lady who lived very close to her, who was pregnant and did not want to keep the baby. They made an appointment, got to know each other and decided that when I was born, my adoptive mother would come to the hospital to pick me up.
In the meantime my adoptive parents hired a lawyer, who guided them through the process and made a legal adoption. My birth certificate says so.
I know very little about my biological mother’s pregnancy and those three short days I spent with her, because even though I have met her, she does not want to tell me anything about her life, or how the process was for her, or anything related to her past.
The truth is that this fact has disturbed me for a long time. Through her I sought to know my origins, to know my family tree. It was the key that I longed for all my life, to be able to complete myself, or so I felt, since I was very young. But I had to accept it, and work in therapy as much as I can.
I searched for my origins when my adoptive father had already passed away and when my adoptive mother had Alzheimer’s disease. Before that, I felt as if I was betraying them. I felt guilty if I searched for them.
All my life I wanted to know. I remember from a very young age standing in front of a mirror and asking myself, ‘Who am I? Who do I look like?’ I have always grown up with that feeling of emptiness, of not belonging to any family, with a lot of pain.
First, when I was six years old, my adoptive parents told me that my mom had passed away and they took me out of her belly and gave me to them. I guess following the lawyer’s advice, because at the time it was recommended not to say anything.
I am grateful that they told me that I was adopted and that they never lied to me about the fact itself. When I was a teenager they told me another part of the story. My first mother’s economic and health situation was what led her to give me up for adoption. And they knew nothing about my first father. They did tell me that I have a brother, and that he stayed with her.
This was not entirely true, but they had no emotional resources to support the truth. Their fear of me suffering and their own life stories prevented them from going deeper.
One day, my biological brother called my house, as he had found out that he had a sister and wanted to meet me. My parents told me and “allowed” me to have contact. But my mother was always afraid and sad, and as a result I didn’t really feel free to have contact with him or my biological family. In fact, I felt guilty if I started having a relationship with them. I didn’t want to hurt my parents, especially my mother. I had a feeling that I was betraying them. So, I saw my biological brother only once, and I refused to see my mother and the rest of my biological family. I was only 18 years old, and I didn’t feel ready. Years later we have resumed contact, and I have met my mother, but the relationship has no fluidity or consistency.
For me, growing up as an adoptee and in the context that existed in Spain 42 years ago, which is something that cannot be forgotten, has been like growing up between two worlds but without roots in either of them.
My childhood is full of questions. My adoption was only discussed in my home once, when I was about 6 years old. We didn’t talk about it again until my teenage years, when I burst out one day and brought it up. And it was only brought up that one time. I mean, we discussed my adoption only twice in my entire life. And my life was full of questions. The one that I have always repeated to myself the most is: ‘Why? What made her do it?’
For a long time, I have lived with a huge feeling of inferiority. For a long time, I have lived with the feeling of not being good enough for anyone, neither for my first family or for my adoptive family (because I could not be their biological daughter). It may seem absurd, but this was my belief and feeling for many years.
Adoption has conditioned all my relationships. Until three years ago, when I had not yet found a psychologist expert in trauma and adoption, I had never consciously approached this subject.
I grew up wanting to be perfect in everything so that everyone would love me; paying a very high price for it. Perfect student, the best daughter in the world, pleasing everyone, not knowing how to set limits to others, obsessed with my appearance, and a long etcetera that does not fit in this text.
It has been difficult, yes. Neither my parents nor I were ever accompanied by specialized (in adoption) psychologists, who could have told the three of us that love is not enough sometimes. Nobody explain to us that I could be very afraid. Afraid of abandonment, and that they (my parents) had to talk about this in order to help me.
But despite of all the fog, there has also been sunshine. I had a loving mother who has been able to repair and reduce much of the fear and the constant state of alert that my nervous system felt and still feels. And I had a father who, despite his emotional absences, has also given me a lot of love, the kind of love that makes amends.
So I have had a functional life, with many shadows and many lights. And they all make me the person I am today. Although sometimes I wish it hadn’t happened this way, especially when there are days when I fall back into the fog. But I also know that the EMDR therapy (to treat traumas) is allowing me to see the fog coming beforehand and to know how to get out of it on my own.
As a conclusion, I want to finish by expressing what adoption is for me. Adoption is the right of all children to have a family to support them, to be with them, to validate them and to love them unconditionally for who they are: children. We all have the right to have someone there for us on the other side. We want to belong and feel seen, to be loved, and then to feel worthy of love.
It can be difficult to adopt a child, but today there are many resources and mental health professionals who can prepare people and provide support. I am sure that many of the things that have happened to me, can be avoided with this kind of help. Don’t let fear stop anyone from doing it, because the sun can always take the fog with it.