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.

@sarahumbleblog

22 thoughts on “Adoption: the good and the bad

  1. I understand you perfectly, this is a very unacknowledged grief in our times. We have no headstone to visit and no understood rituals to help process. Don’t let gratitude get in the way of having all your feelings about your grief validated, we can live what we’ve been given at the same time as feel immense emotion about how we came to be in that situation in the first place. That’s all OK. X

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  2. I’m so sorry that people say such things. My older brother was adopted, and I can’t imagine my life without him, just the same as with my two sisters. No one says those “pure” comments here in the U.S., thankfully. I guess that’s a cultural thing. People used to think my brother was my boyfriend or my sister’s boyfriend, which made all of us laugh, after we got over the horror. 😉

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  3. though I was not adopted, I can identify with this post.

    My mother was Filipina and dark skinned, married to a white man in the USA. I was their only child- and- growing up during the Vietnam war, caught a lot of flack from the other children.

    She was also violently bipolar and I DREAMED/WISHED I was adopted and my ‘real’ parents would finally come and rescue me- which, of course, never happened.

    My dad’s sisters and brothers were all blonde haired and blue eyed golden things. I envied them.

    When I moved to the middle east in my teens, it was the first time I blended in anywhere… although I was warned never to tell anyone my ‘race’.

    XOXOXOXOX

    I now live back in the USA, but I can completely ‘get’ you and this.

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  4. There’s a piece of you missing — your origins. I can understand that. But it seems like a lot of your lost feelings have to do with both the country you live in and because you’re a woman. In America, many people take pride in their heritage — I’m part Irish and part Hungarian. But we are all Americans, regardless of where we come from. And the gulf that exists is more between the rich and the poor.

    Take pride in being a woman. As Helen Reddy (an Australian American singer) said: “I am woman! Hear me roar!” 🙂

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  5. Very interesting read, followed your blog. As a young new author, reading things like this has really helped me understand the struggles adopted children face. Its really helped me understand some of my own characters better, and I can only thank you for that. If you have some time, I’d love for you to check out my work at http://www.kasimskorner.wordpress.com Keep Blogging 🙂

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  6. As a birth mom I hold some of those same anxieties, but on the flip side. The stigma you hear from others who state, “I could NEVER give up my child…” makes the decision I made to do the right thing, feel wrong. Like I am incapable of the same maternal feelings or something. The opposite is usually true on all sides. I am not certain how it would be in your culture outside of what you wrote, but your words were beautiful, and painful and poignant. Please don’t feel less than. It’s a good chance that your birth parent(s) gave you a gift, not a burden.

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    1. we all have so much pain – I think it is a huge act of bravery to give up a child for adoption – and a huge act of faith to adopt. Both require an enormous amount of love – maybe looking at it that way is helpful all around – simplistic – but the truth Peace and Light!

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  7. I grew up in a mixed household with my biological mother, step-dad and half sister and I can totally relate to this post. Not knowing half of my origins made me feel abandoned and conflicted about belonging to the new family unite. Thank you for sharing your story. I often find that I relate to the experience of being adopted because in a way I was by my step-dad but I grew up with a lot of other conflicts that contributed to me depression and anxiety. I think it’s brave and honest of you to share your feelings and that doesn’t make you an ungrateful person, it means you’re just trying to figure out who you are. Self awareness and discovery is so important. *hugs*

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  8. As a birthmom, this hits close to home. Adoptees and birth parents have long been shut down and spoken for by social workers, the adoption industry at large, and adoptive parents. Here and now we are seeing the multitude of folks from the other two sides of the adoption triad speaking up and speaking out. Thank you for your voice. I hope you will find your birthparents. I know, as a birthmom, I miss my son, I crave to hold him, and laugh with him, and dream of reuniting with him every single day. I have no doubt your birthmom is out there hoping you will come and find her, and I hope so very much you find out when your actual birthday is, because that is so many types of wrong. I hope to hear more of your feelings about being an adoptee. Speak your truth. All these people out there who just tell you to be grateful, and to feel blessed don’t get it. you lost your entire family in one day, and you lost all the generations previous. that loss is something that never heals, you just learn to live with it.

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  9. Hey, Sara – What is the cultural basis for the stigma? How does it affect your other life options?

    People that speak out sensitively, as you do, about these issues can have an impact on their culture. Here’s hoping that your experience is better than those that preceded you!

    Brian

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  10. To know the bright side we needed experience of the dark side. Sometimes it’s not where we come from, but rather what we do that makes us who we are. And when we do find ourselves, it is all we need.
    You have a really interesting life. Hope all is well with you.

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  11. Generally we count out misery not our blessings ,god closes one door to open other ,thing is be thankful else we hear lots of cases of molestation every now and then ,but you are not among them so feel blessed

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      1. We, as humans, often feel blessed and lost simulatneously. Shame comes when we question our feelings. It’s OK to feel conflicted. I felt shamed because my father died when I was four. In my little mind I thought that it somenow reflected on my worth. Makes no sense but then shame continued to follow me throughout my life.
        Your piece is beautifully written, poignant and thought provoking. Examining your life in this way will help you to make peace with what “is.”
        HUGS!

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