Full, For Now

By the time I was 18 months old, my mom had given birth to my brother, who instantly became the joy of my life.  My mom and dad were unable to have children before my brother came along. People call me the good luck charm.  This actually happens quite often with adoptive parents, perhaps because they are so grateful for their child, that the universe rewards them with another.

I came to my parents through a private adoption that I still don’t know much about.  My parents tried to explain to me that I was adopted as early as they thought that it would be comprehensible to me.  They must have overestimated my intelligence as a three-year-old, because for a while I thought “adoption” meant “Baptism.”  My parents would say, “You were adopted, and Pierre wasn’t.”  So, I thought I was part of a religion and my baby brother was not included for whatever reason.  I thought, “Ok, cool.  I don’t get it, but that’s fine I guess.”  I felt like I was a part of a cool club that he couldn’t join.  I can’t remember an exact moment of grasping the concept of adoption, but I can remember having a solid understanding in kindergarten.

I grew up in a small town, so all of my friends knew that I was adopted without me even telling them.  I don’t recall any of my peers being hurtful towards me about it, only curious.  I found out in fifth grade that a girl in my class had been adopted, too.  I didn’t believe her at first because of her strong resemblance to her mother.  Her mom talked to me about it when I was at her house after school.  She explained that they “just got lucky.”

In conversations discussing which parent a child resembles more, which features they get from which gene pool, and how similar they are to their relatives, I used to feel uncomfortable.  These conversations happen probably so much more often than people from traditional, biological families would ever consciously notice.  When I was in a group of people who knew that I was adopted, I knew that I would be left out of the conversation.  Although I find these conversations extremely narcissistic and superficial, I can be hypocritical and enjoy them when in the company of people unaware of my adoptive status.  When someone who thinks I am my parents’ biological child tells me that I look like my father, I get a deep feeling of joy and I beam with pride.  I love when the person rambles about how our eyes are the same, how we have such strong French features, and how we smile similarly.  I usually don’t correct them, and if my dad is there, he gives me a wink and a special smile.  These gestures that are imperceptible to the other members of the conversation carry that aforementioned joy even deeper down in my belly, and make me feel full.

Feeling not completely full is a fairly constant sensation in my life, and maybe other adoptee’s lives. I don’t admit it often, but I do feel like there is a deeper connection between blood family members that I haven’t experienced.  However, I am lucky that my brother was born before I was old enough to have an understanding of adoption, or even childbirth.  I got to love him purely and simply as my baby brother.  My love for Pierre, and the love I share with my youngest brother André, is what I use to combat my mind’s fears that I am missing out on a blood-deep love that most others enjoy. They are my brothers, I tell myself; they are a part of me.  I can’t imagine a stronger bond than the unconditional one we share.  Another weapon I use against those thoughts of voidness is the love I have for my mom.  She is so gracious and kind, I cannot imagine anyone else as my mother.

Many people ask me if I want to find my birth parents.  In its simplest form, the answer is yes.  It is not a simple task, though.  I have tried and been shut down.  I have been told that what I thought my entire life, that I could find them when I turned 18, was a lie.  I can find them on a passive registry, which means my biological mother or my father would have to be looking for me, too.  I plan to make the commitment to find them when the time is right in my life.  For right now, though, I feel pretty full.

- written by Emily St. Martin