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essay \"Adopting the Memories\"

Nov. 20th, 2003

Cause & Effect Essay

Adopting the Memories

        By dictionary definition, adoption of a child means, “to take into one’s family through legal means and raise as one’s own child.” But to someone who was adopted, it means so much more. A child growing up with the knowledge of having been adopted may react in two ways: either embrace the title of adoptee, or reject the title on the grounds of desertion. Psychologically, an adopted child will either flourish in their adopted environment, or they will crumble. The knowledge of being adopted can either make or break a child, or sometimes both.
        At the age of five-months, I was adopted by a family in the United States from Calcutta, India. Growing up with the knowledge of being adopted, I have both embraced the title and rejected it. In the fourth grade, I was going through my family’s filing cabinet of important documents, and came across my adoption papers. Seeing the actual proof that I would never know who my biological parents were, a part of me died. In the eyes of my eight-year-old self, I came to the apparent realization that I could never even dream of knowing them. This fact hit home, and in later years, I came to worry about the genetic side of not knowing my biological roots.
        The day that I read my adoption papers, my dad comforted my tears. He explained that at the time of my birth in India, female children were not wanted. I was put up for adoption because I was a girl; purely because of my gender. My dad continued, telling me how I was adopted by a family who wanted a girl. Even as he emphasized the significance of this event, the feeling of absolute loneliness was implanted in the dark recesses of my mind. During my childhood, there were times when I found myself curled into a ball in the corners of my room, crying as my inner self screamed, “I wish I was never adopted!” Every time that I gave voice to these perplexing feelings, I knew that I was very lucky. As young as five or six years old, I had felt this, and always with the contradicting thought, “You should be grateful you were even adopted!”
        In late-elementary years, voicing my disgust at being adopted was always admonished by gratefulness. Even though I felt slightly disconnected from my family at times, I could never put into words how lucky I knew I was for being adopted. Statistically, Calcutta is one of the most over-populated cities in India, and scattered throughout the years are pieces of information on how poor and how dirty the city is. It seemed as though my family (most my three older siblings) were telling me I could not have asked for a better life; underneath it all, I did. I yearned to be a part of an open, social family; I was not. I needed to be shown family affection; I was not. I questioned my placement always; that undercurrent of my mind revolted to find a way to express my warm, sociable nature. Gradually, I came to depend on school as my open ocean.
        Swimming through school, I was surrounded by mostly pale skinned people; I grew up in an environment of minimum diversity. In these open waters, I excelled as just another student. Labeled by grade and class, I shed my need to explain my adoption. School showed me what it felt like to be warm and respectful of others and let me be just one of the crowd. The little side comments putting down my ethnicity were replaced by the encouragement and praise of my teachers. Being adopted faded to just another fact as common as my age and birthday. The waves of loneliness subsided as the evening tide bathed my inner self in praise and respect.
        Through school, I seemed to forget my battle with adoption. I concentrated on sports, and schoolwork, not realizing my quest to belong had only just begun. I continued to make a place myself at school; I was not invisible. I pushed to be known my others, but in my kind, respectful way. The harder I strove to be recognized, the less I felt I knew myself at home. I began to realize in my junior year of high school that I was not as happy as I led others to believe. In my own way, I got caught up in the social aspect of high school, almost completely forgetting the personal aspect.
        Thriving on my childhood insecurities, my search for answers shifted focus to a quest for guidance. Feelings of ignorance and being unwanted evolved into feelings of self-doubt and being unloved. My undercurrent of questioning motives shined through my quick reluctance to trust people. I shoed them my school persona, but not how much I was hurting inside. Finally, I sought out some trusted adults and let down my guard. With their help, I began the in-depth self-evaluation needed to pinpoint the origin of my depression. Slowly, I gave voice to my childhood insecurities and explained my source of pain. With guidance, I rebuilt my self-confidence and tore down my self-doubts. I found strength to do what made me happy and finally was able to embrace my ethnicity and the title of adoptee.
        Adopting a child, one never thinks of the consequences of this action. For me, it took sixteen years of ignoring my adoption to realize the importance of it. The title of adoptee made me an individual who had the great fortune of being raised in the United States of America. I embrace my ethnicity and shine with the knowledge of leading a better life. Though I started life alone because my birth took place anonymously, I have come to realize the strength I hold inside. Knowing that I was once unwanted, I have made a place for myself in school by being warm and open and respectful of others. In my most important role yet as the Senior Class President, I find strength in myself and know that the decision to put me up for adoption has made me the person I am today.

2:00 PM - 07.18.04 Sunday


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