I’m “Tamil” and I’m Adopted

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Adopted. One word that holds so much weight in my life. It acts as an anchor to all of my important life decisions.  Yet despite all this, I have tried not to see myself as a victim of circumstances I never had control of.  I have no memory of the first five years of my life. To this day, I have never found anyone who can tell me anything about the people who gave me life.  How do you start to figure out who you are when you don’t even know where you came from?

I grew up in Singapore and from what I know, I was born a Punjabi Sikh.  I became a Christian after I was adopted by Tamil Indian parents at the age of seven. From my hazy memories and by piecing together what my adoptive parents told me, I know that I lived with two different foster parents and spent a year in an orphanage prior to my adoption.

The first clear happy memory I recall is living in the orphanage with about thirty other children. I was only allowed to leave the orphanage on Tuesdays to spend time with my adoptive parents. My parents tell me that I was a cheerful and hard-working little girl despite the difficult experiences I went through before they met me.

Although an orphanage may not seem like the best place to live, I felt safe there. Through living in the orphanage, I learned to be independent and content with living a simple life.  When I hear others complain about not owning trivial material possessions, I tell myself that I should be content with what I have as I remember a time when I didn’t have anything. To me, material possessions are a bonus. I know that as long as I have food, shelter and a safe environment, I will always be happy.

Adoption might seem like a great option for people who are not in a position to raise a child, but before choosing this option parents have to consider that every adoptee will not have a smooth sailing life with their foster parents. I wish I had a chance to rewrite my story because the past has left me with memories that constantly act as a barrier to finding happiness.  I lived with a foster mother who was an alcoholic and her son was a drug addict. Looking back, I can’t imagine how anyone would place a child in such a dangerous environment.  Sometimes I can’t help but feel the pain whenever I recall the faint murmur of voices or discomforting acts of the past.  I find it so unfair that I had to go through this experience at a young age.

I know that I was an innocent victim and I did not deserve to be treated the way that I was.  I have tried my very best to avoid putting the blame on myself and move on from that chapter of my life. What I’m trying to get across is that before a parent decides to give their child up for adoption, please consider my story and take the necessary precautions. You can change the life of a child by providing them with a safe home filled with love and care.

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I remember the first couple of months after my adoption when I felt reluctant to address my parents as mom and dad.  Looking back, I believe it must have been hard for them to raise me given the distance I had placed between us. From the day I was adopted, I was always surrounded by a warm and caring family who kept me occupied from focusing on negative memories.

However, as I grew older my abandonment issues came to the surface. I found myself constantly thinking about my past. I placed myself in a position where I brought myself down and convinced myself that no one really loved me. I remember the times when I felt that my parents loved my sister more than they loved me. Because of all the emotions I had bottled up, the distance between my parents and I grew wider.

As a teenager, I felt like I was drifting further and further away from my adopted family.   It was like I had built a wall between us and I was always cold hearted. My pride got hold of me even when deep down I knew what they were doing was in my best interest. I wasn’t mature enough to let go of the past. I had kept all of my emotional pain to myself. Despite each genuine act of love from my parents, I felt even angrier with them and myself. I started to believe that they were acting this way because they pitied me.  Nothing was real enough for me to understand the genuine intentions behind their love.

Each day of my teenage years was a personal battle with myself. The emotions, the memories, the tears, the nightmares – everything was starting to eat me up little by little. I had bottled up so much anger and hate deep inside which caused me to push people away. I judged their actions toward me and I never gave myself the chance to forgive them or myself. Everything felt pointless.

Sometimes I go through phases where I shut off the world around me. Sometimes I dwell on memories that have the power to pull me down to a dark place. What makes it even harder is when I put myself in a situation where I feel completely useless and bottle up the anger and feelings inside of me.

I struggled to put the pieces of the puzzle together, but I could not do it on my own.  This is when I sought help from my high school teacher and guidance counselor to help me sort through this storm of emotions, memories and my personal inner conflict. Upon counseling, I’ve learned to focus on the positive impact that my experiences have had on my life.  I choose to believe that surviving this chapter has molded me into who I am today – a confident, responsible and strong young woman.

Even though I feel fortunate to have the life that I have now, I cannot escape the questions that come with being an adopted child.  What was wrong with me that my birth parents needed to give me away? Do I have any biological siblings? Were they given away or were my birth parents able to raise them? What would I do if I ever encounter blood relatives in my future? Does blood make family more real, or is there nothing more real than the family that I have right now?  I don’t know if these questions will ever have any answers to them, but maybe I will reach a point in my life where the questions and the answers no longer matter.

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I admit there are times during my disagreements with my parents when I think about how different things would be if I was their own flesh and blood. And yes, it hurts because I never want to feel this way. But I can’t help it because it is a truth that surrounds me. Maybe it’s easier for other parents to work things out with their own children because they have watched them grow since they were young and they know every detail of their life. God does not give us everything on a silver platter all the time. And that is why with every wound I have left, I tell myself that time will heal all. Things will get better if I give myself the chance to erase the ugly part of a picture and slowly work towards creating beautiful memories with the family I love and live with now.

I am thankful for the freedom of choice.  Although I know that I wasn’t in control of my past, being with my family now is more important than anything else. I could have walked away at any point and they could have walked away too. But sometimes there is something more powerful than blood that bonds us altogether. I have trust, confidence and so much love for them that nothing will ever allow me to walk out on them after all that they have done for me. I had no choice in the past to choose my family, but I have a choice now to keep my parents and my sister close to me.

I am also comforted by the thought that I will have the freedom to start my own family one day. Sometimes, I look back and think about how things have worked out so beautifully – like it was meant to be. That’s when I ask myself – does blood really matter to the closeness of a family? I don’t think so, because I believe that the love I have for my family is so much greater than anything else.

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In life, we are all victims of hurt one way or another. And we all have different ways of overcoming our struggles. But I am determined to use my past to mould me in a way that will leave a footprint on this world.

I am adopted. But I have finally reached a point where this word no longer defines who I am.

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2 thoughts on “I’m “Tamil” and I’m Adopted

  1. It’s brave of you to have written such a heartfelt account of what you went through. Beautiful and inspiring….   I remember the unsettling feeling I used to get when we dropped you off at the orphanage after dinner. I told my mom then that I couldn’t bear leaving you behind. And then finally you came home…for good. Over the years I’ve watched you grow into a beautiful and confident woman. We are proud of you and your sister and love you both for all that you are…. Always remember that.             
    Your Akka

  2. Such a moving story. I hope you find the happiness you deserve. The parents who bring you up are the real parents

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