Guest Post: A Search for Family in Haiti Raises Questions about Adoption: The Whole Story

I have chosen to include this guest post in an attempt to communicate my desire to fully support Mariette.  The incident she describes underscores my commitment to empowering adoptees to tell their story in the way that feels most true to them.

The piece that Mariette is referencing throughout her post can be found HERE.

~Angela

Mariette

A Search for Family in Haiti Raises Questions about Adoption: The Whole Story

By Mariette Williams

On Friday, November 27th, I woke up to a barrage of twitter notifications. I had been waiting for a few days for Ben Fox, the Associated Press journalist, to post the story of my reunion with my family in Haiti. He had said it would be posted during the Thanksgiving weekend. When I clicked on the link to read the story for the first time, I was stunned.

I retweeted the story a few times, but I wasn’t sure how to explain in 140 characters that I wasn’t comfortable with the story, that it had missed the mark. On Friday afternoon, Ben texted me and asked if I was okay. I said I thought 85% of the article was good, but there were some situations that were inaccurate. I didn’t go into too much detail, and I decided to try and put it out of my mind. But it kept bothering me. I didn’t sleep well on Friday or Saturday night. I had to explain myself before I could let it go. On Sunday afternoon, I sat down and wrote Ben this email:

Hi Ben,

I’ve been thinking about this story all weekend, and I can’t let it go until I address some things that you wrote. Like I texted you on Saturday, I think 85% of the story is good and accurate. But there are some things that are bothering me, and I’ll address them below.

“Four days later, Sandra gave her side in a letter to Mariette. Sandra noted that her adopted daughter could have ended up with some other family, or might not have survived in Haiti at all. She said she had always prayed Mariette would return to her country to meet her family. “I feel we have all been victims of deception, but I also believe God is ultimately in charge,” she wrote. For almost two months afterward, Mariette didn’t speak to Sandra. She was furious.”

I actually asked you not to write about this letter. I asked my mom for space while I was figuring things out. I was not “furious.” Hurt? Yes. Confused? Yes. Shocked to find out my mother in Haiti had not consented? Yes. This was a private, personal letter, and I am surprised that you used it.

“She decided to go to Haiti to celebrate her mother’s 70th birthday. Sandra gave her a necklace and earrings as gifts for Colas. Mariette seethed. She left them behind.”

I showed you the card and the necklace. I explained to you that I would not bring them because I didn’t think it was an appropriate gift. The card said “Thank you for sharing your daughter with us.” Given the circumstances, I didn’t think that was the right message. Should I have brought the earrings? Maybe. If you wanted to include this, you should have given the context of the card. “Seething” is an inaccurate description.

Up to this point, I think the story is okay. When we get to Haiti, everything kind of falls apart.

“She was surprised, and a little annoyed, that her Haitian relatives weren’t at the airport.”

Nope, not true. I had arranged to have a driver from the guesthouse pick me up. My family was supposed to meet me at the guesthouse. You saw yourself that we landed at the airport and there was a gentleman holding a sign with my name on it. I rolled my bags into his van, and you followed us to the guesthouse in your own vehicle.

“Over the coming days, Mariette could get little more from her mother. She cursed herself for not learning Creole.”

I said my biggest regret was not learning Creole. I said that if I could change one thing, it would have been to learn more Creole. I did not curse myself.

“She had planned to spend the night at the house. Instead, she traveled two more hours to the one hotel in Pestel.”

Again, not true. It was never the plan for us, or me to stay at my mother’s house. You had brought it up the day before that you would like to travel to Deron. I agreed that it would be good to see the house where my mother lived. When we arrived, we spent a few hours there talking and taking pictures. As we were getting ready to leave, you asked me, “Are you going to stay here tonight?’ And I looked at you like you were crazy and I said, “No, I’m coming with you guys.” I had no cell phone reception and no way to getting in contact with you. It was never my plan to stay there.

“The next day, Junette said she would like to either move their mother to the capital or fix up her home, where two or three of her children and their families stay at any given time. The implication was clear: Mariette would pay.”

When was this? Junette met us back at the guesthouse after that long and crazy ride back to Delmas. We ate cake, you took some pictures, and then you went back to the AP house. When was this conversation?

“Her brothers walked through the home with two barefoot contractors. Mariette ended up with a rough estimate of around $5,000 — far more than she could afford.”

We both know that the $5,000 number was inflated, and it is not “far more than what I can afford.” I was sitting in front of my mother’s house with Evens, who was helping me translate. I asked my mother how I could help her. She told me I could help her with the house. At that point, my brothers called the neighbors to get an estimate for the work that could be done. I brought it up, and I am more than happy to help my mother with her home.

“Her family saw her as the rich American relative. Her youngest sister and a niece hinted that they could go to nursing school, if they could only come up with the tuition. Colas wanted to prepare a meal, but didn’t have money to buy a chicken. Mariette paid.”

As for my younger sister and niece, they had been studying for the nursing exam, something that is very difficult to pass. On our first day, we sat around the table and they told me that they had passed the exam. Great. My mother praised God, and said that I was like “good luck” for them. They did not ask me to pay for their schooling.

Most importantly, my mother was not prepared to have me and a camera crew and a reporter show up to her home. She explained through a translator that she was embarrassed that she didn’t have anything to serve us. She was also embarrassed to have a camera crew in her home, taking pictures. It was very intrusive, and she never complained. She gracefully made us coffee and brought out chairs so we could sit around her yard. Before she arrived, the plan was for us to meet up in Delmas. Also, before I arrived in Haiti, she had told me that she didn’t want to give any interviews or to appear on camera. But any request we made, she complied. You asked her questions, took her picture, and she gave an on camera interview. I think she did more than her part. I gladly gave her $5 to buy dinner.

What about that interview I gave in front of my mother’s house? I said that I was grateful for my adoption, that everything I have I am thankful for. Why not include that? Or the conversations we had that I had a great childhood, growing up on a farm in British Columbia? Being able to attend a private school? If you weren’t pressed for length, why not include that?

Both my mom (Sandra) and I were disappointed in the tone of this article.  It didn’t feel like good journalism. You filled in the blanks in places, presenting a story that wasn’t accurate. I know you were trying to go for a narrative, but it didn’t work.  We had such an opportunity to tell a great story. Adoption is so complex, so beautiful and at the same time so heartbreaking, and you missed that. Although adoption gave me so much, it was still very important for me to know where I came from. I waited for four months for this story to come out.  Not for any personal gain, but to share my story and give hope to other adoptees still searching for their families. I am thankful for your friendship and your help navigating while we were in Haiti. I could not have done this trip alone. I don’t regret going or the new friendships I have with Chery or Evens. I am only sorry that my Haitian family was portrayed the way they were, and that you left out much of my positive comments about my adoption.

I wish you nothing but the best going forward,

Mariette

Ben and I have since talked and he has apologized, but the story cannot be undone. I still feel it necessary to explain my side of the story, to use my small platform to make things right.

I know that very few people who read the first story will read this, but I am at peace knowing that I shared my side. In all of this, I believe even more strongly than before in owning and sharing our own stories, which would not be possible without personal blogs, podcasts, and social media. It’s not just important to tell a good story, we are responsible to each other to tell the whole story.

Sometimes Saying “My Birthmom Didn’t Want Me” Is an Adoptee’s Coping Mechanism

“When you’re adopted, at some level, your story is defined by a person who did not want you. Not wanting you may have been defined by wanting the best for you — in fact, most of the time it is.”

Genes Aren’t Destiny, & Other Things I’ve Learned From Being Adopted by Todd VanDerWerff

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Sometimes when I hear adoptees make a statement such as the one quoted above, it is a statement of protection. I know, firsthand how choosing to reunite or seek out your roots is quite a scary endeavor. Stating “she must not have wanted me,” is a great way to help your brain to make sense of such a formative abandonment and thus allows us adoptees an easier excuse when making a choice not to face the unknowns a reunion may bring. If this is your tactic, it’s good to know where the impetus lies. This statement often is not a truth coming directly from your birthparents mouth, but rather it’s a coping mechanism to help stave off scary and hard feelings. That is an understandable strategy.

When I was denied by my birthmother the first time I laid eyes on her, it did feel a bit like a second rejection, but this does not prove that she did want me. I know that there are far too many pieces to her story and the circumstances surrounding my birth  to boil it down to a statement like “she did not want me.” Having been in reunion now for a few years, I know that were I to continue to believe this, not only would I be lying to myself, but also it’d be a callous disrespect to my birthmom.

It is with such jubilation that I now know my birthmother, and that I’ve gotten the chance to hear her directly tell me that I was wanted! Being placed for adoption had absolutely nothing to do with her personal desires or want, but rather my placement in to foster care and ultimately being adopted, was the result of a host of other personal issues and systemic failures.

Give this article a read. The author is an adoptee, and has reunited with his birthparents. This blog post is not a reflection upon his life, as I’ve never met him in person. These are just my reflections on a sentiment I hear adoptees use quite often. I’m thankful to see this article in Vox as it is increasingly important to hear the point of view of courageous adoptees, whether we agree or disagree with what has been written.

Canadian Adoption Magazine Seeks to #FlipTheScript

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A couple months after National Adoption Month (November 2014)I received an email from the editor of Adoptive Families Association of British Columbia. The editor explained how impactful the #FlipTheScript campaign was to their staff. After viewing the video, and reading tweets from adoptees they made a deliberate choice to incorporate more adoptee voices in their magazine.  The Spring edition of their magazine is now out, and it features the inaugural Adoptee Voice column in which I wrote a piece entitled “It’s Not About Gratitude.”

In the article I share a letter that I wrote to Deborah in my teens (years before I met her.) The letter is peppy, positive, forgiving – a charmer. As I re-read the letter in my adulthood I can see the letter for what it actually was.  Here’s a snippet of (the unedited version) my honest reflections from my column in Focus on Adoption Magazine;

Although this letter contains my heartfelt (teenage) truths there was quite a bit that was omitted. In hindsight I am aware that this letter was essentially an advertisement to my birth mother, carefully written, purposefully short in length and crafted with strategic emphasis on societally accepted themes.  I could’ve written this letter without the repressed emotions, but I held a realistic fear that a more honest letter may have sounded angry and thus deterred a response. If I hadn’t been trying so hard to write a letter that would please this woman for whom I’d felt a strong connection, I might have written about the sadness I still feel in knowing that there weren’t any hospital flower deliveries, pointlessly gendered pink balloons or any other trinkets that are so often a part of the celebration of new life.

Preview my full article here:

A Poem For Wounded Relationships

I wrote this poem without any intention of making this public. However, in the last couple of days, I have received hundreds of emails from people who watched Closure on Netflix and felt inspired not only to write me, but to mend personal relationships that had previously been estranged. I hope this poem can serve as a response to your messages and as further fodder for positive reform.

THE BRIDGE

As I walk with my phone on airplane-mode

Uninterrupted by calls or texts

One song repeats, as my mind retreats

Into a fury of questions and hope


I wonder if The Bridge is strong enough

to hold my joys and your fears

Will his melanin and your lack thereof 

impact the color of our tears?


I’ve come to find beauty amidst the wondering

to embrace my partial truth

Your silence has demanded that I become content

with the unknowns about my youth


Here we stand at opposite sides

ready to venture across

You bring your frustration and I’ll bring my pain

Together we can relinquish these thoughts.


Without this meeting our song would sound different.

incomplete and empty, one-sided, not strong.

Without this attempt we’d stay disconnected

Cut off, detached, all wrong.


It is only through our mutual pain

and the trust hidden underneath our skin

That we can we truly respect ourselves enough

To face the truth within.


You think yourself to be so esoteric

so abstract, so strange, so rare.

we are actually way more alike than dissimilar

We both know alienation, trepidation and despair


The Bridge is our connection point

I hope you’ll meet me halfway

Let’s set aside the classism,

Let’s mend our gaps today.


We all experience dissonance in our lives. Times when we feel so disconnected from those for whom we care for so deeply. One key towards a healthier world is to strengthen relationships. Cross The Bridge.

Christians and the “Silver Linings” In Adoption

This November has hit some regions of the country like a freight train. The frigid air bears down on us along with the seasonal colds, asthmatic coughs, and the reminders to get our annual flu shot. The stores have begun to line their shelves with overpriced trinkets imploring us to spend our hard earned money, while Christmas tunes quickly lose their intended holiday cheer as they are overplayed and mix like oil and water with flaring tempers and overestimated children (and adults!). These are truisms for many of us in the Western world. Adoptees can’t help but notice yet another tell-tale sign that the holiday season is almost upon us; National Adoption Awareness Month. November brings an onslaught of articles written primarily by adoptive parents exclaiming how wonderful/different their lives are, now that they’ve added to their family via adoption. Churches engage in Orphan Sunday and this year brought the first annual social media World Adoption Day, coined by a Hollywood pastor. All of this publicity is great for adoptees, right?

For adoptees like myself, November seems to feel more and more commercialized, and shallow filled with half truths, triggering words being flung around carelessly and uninformed do-gooders hoping to save a child before any more harm is done. This has led to a collective desire for adoptees to share our truth and help temper the discourse. Adult adoptees around the country have banded together to add our voices via the #FlipTheScript campaign where we seek to discuss adoption’s complexities and ethics without the ensuing label or admonishment that we must also be anti-adoption or ungrateful to our parents.

There is a fierce trend within Christianity to justify any negativity in adverse or difficult situations by focusing all efforts on any extractable silver lining. After watching Closure, many Christians have assigned my birthmother’s poverty, and my birth father’s drug use to be “clouds” in my life which were remedied by my having been adopted to a middle class family. They’ve decided that the doctor’s (incorrect) diagnoses moments after my birth of the likelihood being high that I’d never walk, was a surefire dark cloud for my life, which great relief was felt by a cheering audience when seeing the footage of my basketball moves and beating my husband in a game of one-on-one. This steadfast focus on these aspects leaves some adoptees wondering if there was something inherently wrong with them from birth, and with very few places to respectfully address this confusion.

I’ve struggled with some of the adoption language primarily heard within evangelical christian circles, and have addressed that in an article I wrote, published today at Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics.

Genetics, Adoption and First World Curiosities

For much of my life I’ve succumbed to the idea that many of my unanswerable questions fall under the umbrella of nature. I hoped that someday my genetic questions would be answered through a one-time meeting or a picture (thinking that was all the openness I’d ever get). I wanted to know if my birth mom is right handed or left handed or if my birth father had dimples. I assumed that everyone in my birth family had brown eyes, 4c hair texture and dark skin. But my curiosities didn’t stop there, I was also curious about some of possibly genetically impacted markers like “Achoo Syndrome” (a dominant trait also called, photo sneeze reflex), or “hand clasping” (learning which thumb one automatically places on top of the other when clasping hands together). After reuniting with my birth family I learned some of these answers, bur remained curious about similarities between blood relatives that aren’t necessarily within the genetic category, but actually may not have to do with nurture either…

 I was enamored with this photo (this is the first time I met my birth father) for many reasons, but specifically I kept looking at our fingers. The placement on the knee, the spacing between our fingers.
I have been enamored with this photo (this is the first time I met my birth father) for many reasons, but specifically I continue to look at our fingers. The placement on the knee, the spacing between our fingers.

For example, I’ve wondered; If a birthmother and her child reunite at a later age and find out that they both use smiley faces to dot their I’s is this a coincidence, or could it be explained by genetics? (this is a true story btw).

Another [recent] example that has me scratching my head;

While on the phone with my birth mother, Deborah, she said

“Your [adoptive] father sure is smart! Don’cha wish you could just crack his head open and take a look at his brain?”

Why yes! – I wanted to exclaim, but Deborah couldn’t possibly have known about all of the time I spent time in undergrad researching brains, and that I’d you-tubed every TEDtalk having to do with brain science and the psychology of why we do the things we do, read many books on the neurobiology of our brain, and singlehandedly tried to learn about the key differences between the brains of those who’ve been abused in utero, and those who were born with healthy utero experiences. I have long dreamed of looking at the minds of people and learning how traumas have affected their amygdala, or what makes different neurotransmitters fire. Yes, Deborah. My answer is yes! Wait…does that mean she’s done all of this, too?

Okay – I understand, that one was kinda a stretch, though titillating for sure. How about this one;

When I met my birthfather after being introduced to Bryan he replied; “It’s good ta meet’cha Bryan. B-R-Y-A-N, Bryan” spelling his name out loud. At that moment my mom and I exchanged long glances silently flashing back to all of the times I spelled out words just for the sake of spelling out the word. Throughout my childhood we thought this habit was to help me to more clearly understand the word as my hearing loss made it difficult to hear the difference between the words “curb” and “curve.” But now…now I wonder – could this be genetic?

Seems kinda goofy, I know, but these are the subtleties that matter after a couple of decades of deprivation. Example #3:

When my sister met her birth mom about two years ago, we all immediately noticed their similar sense of humor and their biting sarcasm (Example – I can guarantee they’ll both laugh at this joke; “Two scientists walk into a bar. The first one hits his head. The second one does too, in order to verify his results.”). Anyways, more interesting to me was how quickly they began discussing cats. I can’t remember a time when our family did not have a pet cat that my sister took care of. She has received countless gifts, cards and shirts that have pictures of cats on them – she can never have too many. It won’t surprise me if/when my sister and her birthmother both post a status update with the same pun about cats. Will I think it to be a coincidence? Probably not.

 

Not only does my brother and his twin look alike (obviously they are identical twins), but they even act alike after living their entire lives in different families. We've learned that they've made similar life choices throughout their lives at the same points in their lives.
My brother and his identical twin grew up in different families (long story). After unexpectedly reuniting at age 18 they learned how they made similar life choices at similar times in their lives.  Scientists who’ve studied identical twins who were raised separately have found that they had similar intelligence, personality, career and leisure interest.  

I’m no longer solely curious about hitchhikers thumb (the autosomal recessive trait of having a thumb curved back at nearly a 90 degree angle), diabetes or depression, but am continually curious about how to reason and understand the non-genetic similarities between biologically related peoples who haven’t known each other. Of course, I’m well aware that these are First World Curiosities and that without the good fortune of early childhood nurture, it’d be a far cry that I’d even be positing these questions.

I greatly dislike the idea of using adoptees for scientific experiments, or my first world curiosities, but it’d sure be wonderful to learn whether of not there is a genetic mutation for spelling, hobbies, smiley faces, or…a love of cats.

Whose Story Is It Anyway?

Whose Story Is It Anyway?

Thankfully we are past the era of ‘matching’ children to adoptive parents who might bear some physical resemblance’s. We’ve established the importance for adoptees to be told that they are adopted as young as possible. However, from my recent speaking engagements around the country I’ve learned that adoptive parents seem to have hit a roadblock around the dilemma of what to share with their child about their own story, and when. Many parents ask me; “What is the right age for me to tell my child their story?”

Read the rest of my article at The Lost Daughters.

A WORTHY VOICE: Mila (an adoptee)

I Didn’t Need My Biological Mother — I Just Needed A Mother

by Mila


It’s hard for me to believe that I matter. To anyone.

And I cannot help but wonder if it is in large part because of my experience as an adoptee.

Is it because the relationships that were supposed to matter the most in my life were severed and treated as though they were [are] disposable, replaceable, insignificant? Is it because I was treated as a transferable commodity–one that could be taken from one and given to another without any notable consequences? (I was supposed to never look back. I was supposed to be so grateful to have a family that losing my family was supposed to be a negligible event with very little effect on my life or identity.)

Hasn’t that been the basic premise underlying adoption for decades?

I didn’t need my original mother. I just needed a mother. I didn’t need my biological family. I just neededa family. Adoptive parents don’t need a biological child, they just want a child.

It’s an anomalous, difficult concept for me to grasp that people are not replaceable, because the most basic, core relationships in my life were treated as though they were replaceable–and I was treated as though I was transferable.

Adoption is built on the presumption that families are interchangeable or replaceable, that parents and children are interchangeable, and that ultimately, family has nothing to do with flesh and blood, or DNA and biology, but that it’s all about proximity, exposure, and amount of time together. (And if you feel it necessary to say that “love” is ultimately all that is needed to build a family, remember that original families love, too–and then, read this.)

This is a bizarre idea–that family is interchangeable and that DNA doesn’t matter–when you really think about it. And yet, how many times do adoptees proclaim, “I have no need to find my biological family” (this was my mantra for more than half my life), followed by a sigh of relief and a pat on the back as though we have made the “right” choice?

This dismissal and rejection of our biological families are detrimental in so many obvious and insidious ways. It treats our original parents as though they are invisible and disposable, while it also teaches adoptees to reject a fundamental, inextricable part of who we are (we literally would not be who we are today without our original parents).

When you grow up being taught that your connection to your original mother (and father) ultimately means very little, you learn to extrapolate that premise to all other relationships. You learn that no connection ultimately matters. You lose one connection–so what? You can just replace it with another.

If the bond of one’s own flesh and blood ultimately doesn’t matter, then how much less of a bond, of a commitment does friendship or marriage carry with it?

Being an adoptee and growing up with the dominant narrative and perspective of adoption has taught me that relationships and people are disposable as well as replaceable. If my own flesh and blood mother, father, entire extended family were “replaceable” how was I not supposed to internalize that all people are such–most of all, myself.

Of course, I’m not saying that all adoptees feel this way. (Always have to clarify that I don’t mean “all” lest I offend someone.)

But I know in my case (and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone), believing relationships will last and believing that I’m not somehow replaceable and/or disposable are concepts that are pretty dang hard to grasp.

And the bad thing is that it functions almost as a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe you don’t really matter and that your role in a relationship is disposable, then you behave in such a way that those friendships and relationships don’t last which you then use to confirm that indeed relationships do not last and you ultimately do not matter. A vicious cycle.

Furthermore, this all takes place under the radar–meaning at a subconscious level. Beyond awareness. Well, at least it did for me. Obviously, no one sat down and explicitly told me any of this. And of course, no one would ever sit down and tell an adoptee this.

But no one has to say anything. Adoptees are smart and sensitive and hyper-aware of emotion and expectations. We pick up on everything that is unspoken. And we make it a part of who we are. Not by choice, but for survival, and ultimately so that we can be loved–because, like I keep saying, we come to realize at a very early age that connections are precarious, arbitrary, and can be severed at any moment because no connection ever lasts–even one made of blood. So, we learn to keep the boat steady and support the status quo lest we lose everyone and everything that matters.

Hence, even if no one would ever blatantly tell us that our original families do not matter, you’ve told us in so many other ways.

You tell us our biological families do not matter when you dismiss our grief and pain. You teach us that our connections to our original mothers and fathers ultimately do not matter when you use the voices of some adoptees to silence the voices of others. When you pressure us to change our narratives to fit your expectations, your wants, your assumptions, you show us that you have no true desire to acknowledge the significance of our first families.

You teach us that all that matters is that we forsake any emotional, biological, psychological, social, cultural connection to our original families in favor of honoring our adoptive families as the most worthy–because that is what is right. You teach us that there is a hierarchy by which we must abide, within which our biological origins fall to the bottom, if they are included at all. With all this, you show us that we never needed the mothers who bore us within their own bodies, who gave us life. You show us that we should feel nothing for the fathers who longed to know us but were never given a chance.

You tell us that we never needed our first families, and that losing them has no consequence. You tell us that ultimately our journeys are all about what everyone else wants. And that all that matters is you and your happiness and your truth and your dreams.

In the end, you teach us ultimately that we as adoptees do not matter, because adoption and the perception of it as the be-all, end-all good deed is all that matters. And hence, our connections must be perceived as pliable and malleable enough to support that particular narrative.

So, thank you, Adoption, for teaching me that family is inconsequentially interchangeable and replaceable. I’ve had to spend my adult life trying to unlearn this lesson and its implications, because I realize ultimately that you were wrong. I realize now that flesh and blood connections absolutely matter, and when they are severed there are serious psychological and social consequences. So, Adoption, you may have meant well, but like they always say, the road to hell… 

Hopefully, we can repave that road…or maybe, just build a new one all together…

 

Originally posted on The lost daughters with permission from Mila.

When You Check The Box

Even though I’m hearing impaired
I am a healthy adult.
Even though this wasn’t learned until my late childhood
I was a healthy child.
She didn’t always eat healthy while I grew in her belly
There were no prenatal visits or vitamins
Still I am fine and I’m healthy.
You should know that still I have worth.

I know you checked the box
on that homestudy preferences list
that you were not open to prenatal drug use,
a family history of depression or bipolar
you checked the box that you would not adopt a child
whose birthparent’s wanted to choose their name.
Does this have anything to do with the needs of the child?
Or is this just you playing a matchmaking game?

Does my health depend upon your understanding of medicine?
Is healthiness a societally constructed concept?
Is an autistic child unhealthy? Down syndrome? High IQ?
Does a lack of birthparent history dictate the child’s future health?
Are you seeking perfection in a child; A valedictorian graduating magna cum laude?
Is a “special needs” adoptee incapable of success? PTSD? Anxiety?

Not knowing family medical history can feel scary
and in utero drug exposure may concern you
But know that adoptees will seek righteousness with Malala.
We Will Rise with Maya Angelou
We strive for peace like Benazir Bhutto
and have hoop dreams like Sheryl Swoopes
although I may strain to hear you at times,
or I may lose my balance,
I may need a sick day or two to recoup
Still I am healthy and I am strong.

Dyslexia doesn’t define a soul
anymore than a perfectionistic mother in defeat.
ADHD shouldn’t equate to “I can’t parent this”
just as “normal” is not synonymous with healthy.

Prenatal alcohol exposure doesn’t make my brother less human
Prenatal drug use doesn’t make my sister’s body wrong
I am healthy. We are healthy.
We aren’t a series of labels, or orphaned bodies to experiment on.

We were healthy children that have grown to be healthy adults.
We were adopted as we were, and have grown in to who we are.
We have struggles, and faults, we succeed, we laugh
at times we gain ground, and at times we fight bad thoughts.

When you go to check the boxes
Please don’t predetermine what healthy might mean for me.
Please examine your own beliefs first.
I wonder, what does “healthy” mean to you?