Hi, I’m Rachel. A mom and wife who is constantly trying to find the secret formula to balancing my work, motherhood, and marriage – and keep my faith at the center of it all.
Thanks for taking the time to read a part of my story!
My entire life, I had one wish. It was a wish I never spoke aloud, but remained in my heart for as long as I could remember:
A wish that I knew who I looked like.
Easy. Simple. BUT – nearly impossible…
Growing up I listened to my family talk about how my sister looked just like Aunt Evelyn, that my brother had the same facial features as my father, and how my cousin inherited her beautiful red hair from her mother. However, no one ever looked at me and compared me to a family member. I had always longed for someone to smile at me and say, “that large forehead is definitely from your father” or “you have your mother’s eyes.”
Not only did I feel left out in the gene pool discussion, I also grew up with this huge desire to please everyone around me.
I thought if I could make everyone happy, then they would not be upset with me, which means they would not leave me.
I look back and wonder where did I obtain such a sense of anxiety and fear of abandonment?
I personally believe that when you are adopted as a baby, even though you have no memory of your prior life, your body holds on to that trauma. Your body remembers the loss, the displacement, and the separation. Your body holds on to that experience and those feelings, and then manifests that trauma in different ways.
For me, my trauma manifested as a child with people pleasing tendencies, fear of abandonment, and anxiety that caused nonstop picking the skin around my thumbs. In fact, the skin picking is still a sign of my anxiety that continues to this day.
Despite all of this, I love that I was adopted.
I love my adoption journey because it led me to where I am today: I am a strong woman, a wife, a mother, and in my faith, a child of God. I love this about myself.
However, while I am able to appreciate my adoption, I am also able to mourn what I have lost.
When an adoptee is ready, I think it would be so beneficial for them to explore the trauma, process through their grief, and create their identity based around their adoption experience.
Too often, adoptees experience gaslighting when we try to voice our pain and grief about our adoption. Our words are disregarded and then we are reminded how grateful we should be that our adoptive parents “saved us.”
The reality is adoptees are allowed and able to experience both gratitude and grief as anyone else is capable of having simultaneous emotions.
One emotion does not negate the other.
Does my adoption story reflect a perfect movie scenario? Absolutely not! Adoptions stories are not just one chapter in someone’s life. It is not over after the court hearing and being taken home by your adopted family. It is a lifelong journey filled with ups and downs.
Some adoptees may never get to the point where they want to look deeper into their adoption, which is okay. Some adoptees have experienced far greater trauma from their adoption than they might have if they remained in their previous situation. No adoption story is ever fully over or complete.
Adoption is an ongoing journey, and that journey can be enhanced when the adoptee is surrounded by loving, supportive friends and family who are willing to listen.
And guess what?!?
When I initially started writing this, I thought my lifelong desire of finding out who I looked like would simply remain a wish…To my surprise, my wish actually came true! And while this is not a normal experience for many adoptees, I was fortunate to be able to fill in some of the blanks in my life:
In February 2021 I was given a copy of a letter.
This letter was from my birth mother which she had written to me in 2005, the year I turned 18. In that letter, she provided me with a picture of herself! Why I never received that letter until this year, I might never know. But I do believe this timing is perfect and I was given this information at the right time in my life.
I am thankful that I have the opportunity to journey through my trauma, my loss, and grief and now have a greater appreciation for the life I’ve been given. I feel ready to take this new step towards what I hope will end in a reunion with the mother I never knew. The mother I care for more than she could ever imagine…