As a young girl, I used to lay in bed wondering what my life would’ve been like if I hadn’t left my biological family. I wondered if my father would be the kind of man that played with us if he would be the fair man that I imagined him to be.
I wondered what my mother would have taught me, would she teach me our tribal dishes? Would I take after her the most or my father?
I often thought about Africa and if it really was as bad as everyone used to tell me. I would allow my mind to wander through the possibility of who I would be, what kind of love I would feel from my parents.
Sometimes I would end up feeling guilty that my love for my parents was undying. I couldn’t find it in my heart to attach myself to my adopted family in the way they wanted from me.
The western world loves hearing stories of adopted kids from Africa being rescued into homes and living happily ever after. In theory that is a beautiful fairy tale, but no one prepares people for reality. We all come with our traumas and our losses and when we grow up, we have periods where we come face to face with our crushed dreams.
Looking back, my guilt was misplaced and what needed to happen was the acknowledgment that every adoptee has a story before they are adopted.
Although I didn’t speak about it much nor did we have family discussions about my life before adoption, it didn’t erase the fact that I had a mother and father that loved me. For a few short years, I had all the love I needed right there.
There is an unspoken pressure adoptees feel, not to hurt their adopted parents by asking questions and talking about their life before adoption. But a child shouldn’t live in fear of upsetting a parent because they want to embrace the other side of themselves.
You’re almost required to act like life began when you were embraced by your new family. Though the only person an adoptee hurts when they play along with that game is themselves.
So I encourage you, if you’re an adoptive parent reading this, take time to sit down and ask your child questions about their life before adoption. Hold them when they cry about their broken dreams and when they are at a loss at how to deal with the adoption process.
Every adoptee holds what if’s and thoughts of their parents. It’s not fair for a child to pretend they aren’t missing a part of themselves in order to keep their parents happy. They are holding shattered dreams and hopes close to their hearts.
I will never forget the last time I spoke to my biological father. The day before he passed, I called him, and it felt like life had never separated us. In that moment it was simply a father reminding his daughter of her value to him in his final moments.
Everyone thinks the day I lost my parents was when I was adopted when in truth the day I lost my parents was the day my father passed away.
Nearing his passing, I was desperately trying to hold on to my father, as I battled to accept that I was going to be parentless in this world.
Over the next few days, slowly but surely, the numbness wore off and pain took over. It was in that moment that I decided to write a letter to my father.
I share this with you not because I want you to feel my sorrow, but to realise that every adopted child holds dreams that they may never share.
My dearest papa
What are words when my tears better explain the pain my heart feels.
They told me that time would heal all things, but time has done nothing but widen the hole that has been left behind.
My dreams have lied to me, for years they showed me a father embracing his daughter.
It showed me the warm laughter we would have had and the tears we would have shared.
It seems my dreams were only just that, dreams a lonely daughter dreamt to comfort herself.
I hope the wind carries every word I whisper to your ears, they are words from a heart that is missing you. I cannot hide the anger I feel from your loss father, because my heart is heavy with it.
I’m angry at this world’s unjust events that we all must accept, angry that war tore a daughter away from her father in the blink of an eye.
I am angry at myself, I foolishly thought for once this life would be fair to us, that I would see you one more time before the gods could take you away.
I will miss you walking me down the aisle on my wedding day. I will miss the moment you lay your eyes on my first child.
Those joys have been taken from us and like a leaf in the wind, our lives have been swept from beneath us.
They changed my surname father, but I know in my heart that even if they had changed my whole name, I would always remain your daughter.
We are separated by different worlds now, but in time my eyes will lay upon you again. Until then, be well father. Your love will not be forgotten and our love is forever cherished.
From, your loving daughter.