“I am not my treatment”

My adoption is my lived reality. I don’t like talking about my family – either the adoptive one I know or the biological one I can only speculate about – because the experience is more often isolating than it is unifying. Along with many other adopted children, I spend a part of every day wondering why my biological parents gave me up for adoption and if the fact that I was abandoned, a label I put on myself through my own insecurity, makes me unlovable.

I’ve had these thoughts in my head for as long as I can remember. After years of therapy, I understand how profound an impact they’ve had on my life. I have serious abandonment issues. I let myself remain in an emotionally abusive relationship for far too long because I was afraid of being alone. I have chronic major depression—not necessarily because I am adopted, but most likely because of the psychological aftermath of such a traumatizing experience.

More concretely, I can’t think about my birth parents without being paralyzed by emotions I still don’t understand. I don’t know if I’m predisposed to heart disease or breast cancer because I have no family records. I don’t know any people who actually look like me (and no, other Chinese people don’t count). These things are what come up for me when I think about adoption.

So perhaps one of the positive things about my self-given status as “orphaned” is that I belong to a community of people who know my pain.