When I wrote about the frustrating irony of Me First, and how it relates to me wanting to be ok with my loved ones choosing themselves first, I missed off one important Me First – my very first experience of that – which has undoubtedly shaped the me I am today: My birth mother.
Despite having no real idea what the ‘truth’ of the situation was, my current narrative looks like this: Having only recently found out that she already had a husband and other children when she had me, I believe she chose to put herself first, to not jeopardise the family she already had and put them first too.
Of course in the world of “Me First”, that’s exactly what she should have done.
Except I’m the baby she gave up for adoption – the one she didn’t put first – which, once again, makes it challenging for me to truly stand behind and believe the sentiment Me First, “It’s ok to put yourself first”. That’s where my work lies to be ok with this. (Oh the irony).
When I talk about my adoption with people, one of the first things they say is: “But you were so lucky – your family chose you”.
I understand the positive sentiment behind this and yes, I feel extremely lucky to have the family I have and to have the life I have. My family will always be my family – whether I get to meet my birth family or not – and nothing will change that. But this isn’t the whole story, by any means…
If you can be chosen, then you can also be unchosen.
That’s the underlying message that can be (unconsciously) swirling round an adopted baby’s/child’s/adult’s head when they’re told how lucky they are to have been chosen. And indeed there are numerous painful stories of adopted children being unchosen again, having been ‘lucky’ to be chosen in the first place.
The natural order of the world – of families, of motherhood, of belonging – is that you birth a baby and you keep it. There’s usually no choice to be made, that’s just the way it is…you are born into your family and you stay there. Belonging.
But if you can be unchosen, there is no sense of belonging. It’s not a birth right as it should be. It’s a choice. It’s why that sense of belonging is unfamiliar to me…
The feeling of not quite belonging anywhere, of flitting in between social groups not fitting in, of frequently moving to find somewhere that feels like home. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt I belong anywhere (it’s why I’m exploring this theme on Location Independent).
I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this, adopted or not…
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