Adoption: the good and the bad

Growing up I gave as little information as I could about my family. I always felt this immense shame that I am adopted. That people will find out and will treat me inferiorly, because I am not meant to live in this lavish lifestyle. I needed to feel grateful no matter what.

Later on I realized part of my shame was that I believed I was less. I struggled with my inner contradictions; I had enormous ego and so little self worth. Part of me always believed there is an end game that it was bigger than this. The other part knew there was nothing special here. On a manic day I think I’ll have a reunion with my biological parents, they will be separated because they couldn’t live with eachother without me, until I come along and we all live happily ever after in a big mansion in a green land right by the river. My Cinderella story was never about a prince it was always about parents. However, in my days of depression I imagined a scenario where my mother is mentally unstable she probably lives until this day in a psych ward; my dad wants nothing to do with me. 

I often ponder why all that search, why waste all these hours thinking, day dreaming of that day. I live a good life, I may have lost my parents but I have an aunt that trumps all of my family put together. I never had to work a day in my life to support myself; I never was hungry or cold. I got to live among a family, unlike orphans who lived in an orphanage or foster kids who moved from one family to another. What is wrong with me? Is it possible that I am the only ungrateful adoptee who feels this pain? After long nights reading about adoption I confidently  can answer no. we all think we are ungrateful because that is just part of the adoptees DNA but we all crave deep down that reunion, we are all scared to confront our fear, our abandonment issues and our loneliness.

I live in Abu Dhabi; it’s the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Here we don’t really talk about it. Adoptees act like it never happened but and mostly because I am one I can identify the acts and behavior of my fellow adoptees which some are: people pleasing, not wanting to be different, we want so badly to be accepted, included. Some can swallow their pride to get a few laughs at their expense. We would embody the person you want us to be. I know I never wanted to be spotted out. I couldn’t help it, I was, I was that black duck following the yellow ducks.

Adoptees get discriminated against. I have noticed this common biasness over the years. Like the term ‘pure’ gets thrown around a lot. Being adopted right away throws you out of their pure Arab breed category. The other term ‘my flesh and blood’ that throws you more further away from your adoptive family. Growing up knowing the importance of these two aspects then realizing you don’t have them, alienates you internally and that feeling usually festers to anger and resentment.

Where you came from usually puts you in a category.  People treat you prejudicially the further your origins get away from the gulf area. I find myself fortunate that I have that common face no one suspected me for being nothing else but Emirati growing up. But I am not from the GCC, I come from Morocco. Finding out this aspect of me recently convinced me that I needed to do this. Why hide that, why not proudly lay it all out?

Its 2015 and I will soon turn 29 according to my fake birth certificate. I wasn’t born on the 29th of july, can I ever talk about it without being crippled by anxiety. Are there any adoptees in my region who feel the way I do? Do they feel alone and different but feel like they can’t speak out? Is the stigma that follows adoption something adoptees have to hide or carry around all their lives?

You grow up not knowing who you look like, what behavioral pattern you got from your father. If you have siblings, if your parents had to give you away, if they are dead, if they are poor and need your help, if.. if.. if..

A life filled -too early- with unanswered questions and never-ending ifs.

Love and peace to all.

Sara H.



Disney princess Syndrome

I often wonder when do kids start to notice what is beautiful and what is not. Parents, obviously, have an effect on a child’s view. Just last week a 9 and 7 year old girls mention who they find pretty and how they wish they were her. So I asked what is so beautiful about her and they replied with excitement she is white and has long straight hair. Now mind you these two girls are quite beautiful with an olive/tan skin tone which is common in the Middle East. But they hear since childhood how fair complexion makes a girl beautiful. I was once that little girl, I looked at the mirror and felt ugly because I didn’t have the right skin tone to be accepted as beautiful in my community, I tried starting from the age of 12 to look for ways to brighten my complexion. During my university days, i was complimented for my looks and i almost always shut them down because I thought this must be a pity compliment.

The first time I realized I wasn’t so bad looking was at the age of 23. What happened at that age? Not sure exactly but I have finally noticed not all girls shared the same features that I used to hold as perfect. Some were very tall, short, white, brown, black, thin, and thick and I always find something beautiful about them. Also, started to look at the most beautiful or sexiest female countdown at E! and some were Latin’s or Mexicans or black, they were not all white with long straight hair. I finally acknowledge I have a low self esteem but I also acknowledge and I hope I don’t sound obnoxious I’m not bad looking at all.

When taking a family picture, kids are often instructed in how to smile and which way to face and what or how to act, it is rarely ever natural or spontaneous.  Then people wonder where did the duck face phenomena come from.  Following what is fashionable to be accepted, regardless if it felt right. I started recently to take pictures of my nieces and nephews while they are unaware and show them how pretty they looked, at the beginning they strongly disagreed with me, some still do. But I hope in time they believe they don’t have to look a certain way and to relax and have anxiety free confident full life.

The last point I like to bring up is the Disney princesses’ unrealistically beautifully angelic looks.  Young girls spend an hour and a half watching a movie of this girl of terrible beauty who gets subjected to abuse or neglect and then finally meets her prince charming and the rest is rainbows and butterflies. This dare I say Disney princess Syndrome, starts by watching a Disney princess movie. Then by imitating these characters in order for society to view us as these characters. Then daydreaming and waiting for the moment that someday this will be us. Afterwards, realizing how unattainable these looks are. Some grow up to idolize celebrities, some resort to plastic surgery, some just never leave their parents basement and you will find them yearly in a Disney like comic-con.

It gives me great anguish to see parents or society put their kids in this self esteem roller-coaster and in such a young, fragile age.  Kids, nowadays, follow fashion and trends. They hardly ever leave their houses without accessorizing. Kids are teenagers and teenagers have become adults, it is sad to see the carefree look in their eyes disappear and to be replaced by the look of insecurity.

Love and peace to all.

Sara H.