Adoption Family

Feature:
Where I Belong

Where I Belong
Melissa Thomas
Written by Melissa Thomas

A month after my 9th birthday, I was adopted. I had a father, mother and younger sister overnight. This is my journey to discovering and loving the family where I belong.

A month after my 9th birthday, in October 1992, I was adopted. Two weeks before leaving the orphanage I had a brief interaction with my parents and sister and I remember thinking then that they were very loving people. As a nine year old, I was able to comprehend and understand pretty much what was happening. I knew that I would be leaving my friends and would miss them terribly. There was a “knotty” feeling in my stomach about leaving the familiar surroundings I had grown up in. However, there was a sense of excitement about something new happening in my life. I remember my guardian telling me that I will have a better future and a very loving family was to take care of me.

And so my life with my family began! My parents had adopted another girl before me when she was two years old. So when I came into the family I immediately took on the responsibility of an older sister. Since my parents pastor a church in Pune, we would have many visitors come home and we were involved in many church activities. Looking back, this was really good for me during my initial years of adjustment. The more people I interacted with, the more excited I got about my new surroundings.

Initially, there were many challenges and struggles. One of them being, that I could not speak English. So my mom would sit with me and teach me English every day. Thankfully I was able to pick up the language fast enough because everyone around me spoke only in English. Within three months I joined an English medium school which helped me make many more friends and pick up the language faster. I struggled with the need to please everyone and to keep everyone happy.

I had this notion in my head that if I didn’t behave properly, I would be sent back to the orphanage. I remember my parents telling me constantly that they loved me, no matter what. This simple time to time assurance of their love for me really helped me come out of the people-pleasing attitude during my adolescent years. Every Monday, my father would organize a family day and every year we would go on two exclusive family vacations.

This continued until I graduated from College. I still have very fond memories of our family outings, and I believe that it was this that helped me feel so much a part of my family. During our teenage years, my sister and I had a lot of questions about our biological connections. As an older sister, I always felt I needed to know every answer my younger sister asked me. During those times I remember my parents telling us that they were just very thankful to God for giving them two wonderful daughters and it did not matter how we were conceived. Anytime we disobeyed or shouted back, my parents would first correct us and then hold us and tell us that they loved us and will always want us to grow up as children with good values.

As an adopted child, the one thing that I have learned is that I never want to hear anything negative about my biological parents. Though I do not know anything about them, I believe they loved me but they knew that they could not take care of me, so they put me in a place where I could be taken care of. I am sure that it would have been hard for them to let me go, but they wanted what was best for me. Hence, I will always be thankful to them for loving me so much and letting me go and live a better life.

I have a few friends who are adopted and grow up thinking that their biological parents were heartless to leave them orphaned. It is very difficult to help them understand otherwise. I can only advise them to forgive their biological parents. I know that when I decided to forgive my biological parents (even though I did not know them) it totally changed me from within. I felt free and empowered to be myself.

Looking back, I think my sister and I grew up to be more understanding than other children our age. Because of the changes and adjustments (whether at birth or later) in our lives, we would tend to be more sensitive towards others and helpful and kind to other children. Both of us have very different personalities but as we grew older, the family values that our parents instilled in us, made us feel that we always belonged together. Given my experience as an adopted child I would say, that it’s always better to let the child know as early as possible about him/ her being adopted, so they grow up knowing the truth.

But at the same time, it’s important to constantly assure the child of their love. During our teenage years, my sister and I had different reactions towards us being adopted. But at the end of the day, after all the asking and answering people, we could not be more grateful to our parents for taking us in and loving us. This not only gives me confidence but also keeps me humble and approachable as a person.

The greatest joy for our family came when my mother was able to conceive and deliver a baby girl when she was 40 years old. It was a total miracle because the doctor had said that she will not be able to conceive. When our youngest sister was born, I still remember my father’s prayer when he said, “Thank you God for a new addition to our family”. That said it all, we are and we will always be a family.