Sanjana, with her grandfather
“I was officially adopted in July of 1982. I was almost 2 years old. Being adopted was always a conversation that we had in my home, and I was very thankful for that. My parents never kept me from what little information they had about my biological family. There were albums around our home filled with hospital records and social service reports that I had access to whenever I wanted. It wasn’t until I became a teenager that any of those things interested me. I began to wander into our basement and examine what few facts I had about myself. I clung to those details and embraced my vague roots. I learned that I was born with opioids in my system and remained in the hospital for 28 days after my birth. I can only assume that my biological mother was long gone by then. So, the questions began to swirl. Why would she leave me? How could she simply give me away? Anger and resentment welled up within me and I could only spew hate-filled remarks about the selfish woman who gave birth to me. For years I couldn’t understand why she would do this to me. My life with my parents was wonderful. I was given love and affection, opportunity and affirmation. I lacked nothing. But inside, I was struggling with issues of abandonment, grief, lack of self-identity, and poor self-esteem. I didn’t understand why I felt this way, and I was positive that “maybe it’s just me”. I had no idea that many adoptees experience these very same emotions.
I searched for my biological mother with no avail, and it wasn’t until college as a Social Work major, that I began to unpack my feelings about being adopted, and the issues that I was struggling with. I began to read more about the adoptee experience, and I started to shift my mindset from feeling as though my biological mother’s decision was SELFISH to it being one of the most SELFLESS things she had probably ever done. She gave me a chance at life. I began to put myself in her shoes and imagine what giving me up must have meant for her. It took time, but I had to find within me....forgiveness. I forgave her for what may have been the hardest decision in her life. Forgiveness freed me from the feelings that kept me bound to a past I had no answers to and allowed me to create a purpose-filled future for myself.
With therapy, journaling, introspection and the journey of writing my own memoir, I have found healing. It is a lifelong journey, but I am at a place in my life where I have come to accept the life I was given and walk within my destiny.
As I finalize my upcoming book, "They Chose Me: An Adoption Story", it is my hope that adoptees will seek support with the many complexities and uniqueness that comes along with being adopted. I am passionate about educating adoptive parents to create a space for their adopted child to emote and express their feelings about their adoption experience in a supportive atmosphere.
Adoption is a beautiful thing, and I am thankful for the family I was given.”
(Maryland, MD, USA)
Denise lives in Maryland and working on launching her book very soon. Follow her on Instagram @theychoseme2019 for updates on the release of her book.