All the other kids had stories about their last names. With 30 kids in the class, it took a while to get through the entire assignment. Each student making their way up to the front of the classroom, picking up the piece of chalk and writing their last name on the green board before they began their story.
Some had interesting stories like my little red-headed classmate told the story about her ancestors in Ireland who collected the fees to drive along the roads, and that’s where her last name, Feehan came from. I had a much less exciting story – my last name means son of Arvid, apparently a pretty common first name in Sweden.
That spurred my curiosity about my other surname. I wondered what the story was with that name. I never asked because I knew there was no way to know the answer. That’s when I first consciously told myself, “It’s no big deal.”
Throughout my life whenever I would talk about my adoption I was conflicted. Part of me wanted to shake whomever I was speaking to and look them in the eyes and say, “THIS IS IMPORTANT! It’s the most important thing in my life.” However, I would more often than not brush off their questions with short answers, feeling the blood rushing to my face as I tried to change the subject because it was so close, so personal and I didn’t feel safe sharing that much depth with the other person. In the end, I would give a throwaway, “It’s really no big deal. I have a great life.”
While the great life is true, I was lying when I said that being adopted is no big deal.
Hundreds of times in my life I’ve stated that it’s no big deal. As I reflect I’m trying to figure out why that is and the best I can come up with is that I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable (least of all myself) with the depth of my emotions. If I admitted that it was, in fact, the biggest deal in my life I would be forced to face myself and ask why it mattered so much.
I’d been told my entire life that I was lucky and blessed and special to be adopted. In fact, I’ve felt grateful to be in my family pretty much every day, so how could that feeling co-exist with the distress and ache I felt whenever I thought about being adopted?
It didn’t make sense to me, so I continued to insist that being adopted is no big deal.
In spiritual self-help circles, you’re told that your words hold energy and that what you repeatedly tell yourself becomes true. Obviously, this teaching is good in theory. If you want more income don’t focus on not having income. If you want a love connection, repeat to yourself that you’re lovable and worthy.
What they don’t tell you is that the words themselves are not the magic. It’s the energy you toss into those words – the belief that comes along with the repetition. Why most people don’t fall in love within weeks or months or years of repeating “I am lovable and worthy,” is the same reason that my repeating, “Being adopted is no big deal,” never took hold. I didn’t believe it.
In my bones, I knew that being adopted was a very big deal. It was a big deal for my parents and my family. It was a big deal for my birth mother, and it was indeed a big deal for me.
I’ve started to own the fact that being adopted is my cornerstone. This is the foundation that everything else in my life has come from. The structure of my relationships, the heft, and weight of my self-acceptance, the story that I’m meant to not only live but tell – is that I am adopted.
That’s why I wrote my book. That’s why I show up here. That’s why I’m facing all my deep fears and insecurities about talking about what’s most true for me – because adoption is a big deal and I want anyone else who may be sweeping it under the rug for any reason to know that it’s okay to let it be a big deal for you.
I’d love your perspective. Is adoption a big deal for you or someone you know? Share your thoughts in the comments and if you liked it, please share this post with your friends and followers!