Pictures and feelings…

19 Nov


Seeing pictures of family members that mirror you in so many ways…pictures of them doing things that you’ve always loved doing.

Pictures of siblings you should have grown up with. Seeing those pictures, knowing that if everything was normal, you should have shared memories of being part of that family, instead, they are complete strangers that in so many ways, mirror you.

Pictures of nieces, and nephews, that you should have memories of meeting when they were still in the hospital after coming into this world.  Memories of them growing up, and becoming the next generation in your family, instead, they are complete strangers who are now young adults…that share features that you see every time you look in the mirror.

This is only a glimpse into a small part of my adoption experience…feelings I’m not good at sharing.  The life that should have been, the life that was and is everything it was supposed to be, but still, I can see, and feel, what I lost…but will never regain.

How can you reconcile these feelings with all the hubris surrounding how amazing adoption is, and how wonderful it is to be adopted that are being circulated this very same month.

This part of being adopted is hard, harder than I ever thought would be…

Outside looking in…or is it..inside looking out…or back…whatever it is that I’m doing, these are the feelings, and thoughts, that have circled inside of my mind ever since I saw those pictures.


Posted by on November 19, 2014 in Adoption


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11 responses to “Pictures and feelings…

  1. iwishiwasadopted

    November 19, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    In my case, they don’t seem to miss me at all. There was no empty space in my family waiting for me. They all have each other, and have moved on.


  2. Raven

    November 20, 2014 at 8:35 am

    TAO, as you know my son severed our 23-year-long relationship two years ago this coming Christmas. I think one of the things that really bugged him a couple years ago was seeing the family photos I posted on Facebook, especially the ones of my parents and ancestors. He looks so very much like my father and I and also shares many mannerisms and traits. I think coming face-to-face with the photos in which he could see himself triggered his rage at me. I thought, however, that he would talk to me about it, rather than exploding the way he did.


  3. 77yan

    November 20, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    I look like the side of my first family I have no contact with, which is sad. My first mother and I don’t look alike.

    BUT. There is this one photo I sent her when we were first talking. I think it’s my 3rd or 4th birthday, and I’ve been set on the ping pong table, which is covered in food for a party, behind a bakery birthday cake (on which the bakery mis-spelled my name). I’ve been told to smile, and also told that no, it is not time for cake yet, so I have this stupid “for the photo only” smile, chin tilted up, as many teeth as possible showing. (According to family legend, I later got back on the table while everyone else was outside and defiantly took a bite directly out of the cake, since it was MINE.)

    The next time I saw her, my first mother shared a picture of herself that one of her brothers dug out after seeing my cake photo. She’s standing, in a white dress, possibly first communion, and has the exact same photo face — chin tilt, same, teeth-baring smile, same. Random escapee hair doing humidity curls all around her face, same. So it’s probably my favorite photo.

    Her family has held a space open for me all these years. I’m just not able to fill it yet.


  4. Tiffany

    November 20, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    I oddly relate to this. I saw a video my daughter’s other mom shared with pictures from their extended family reunion/vacation. I made the mistake of watching it at my work desk, and I had to get up and hurry to the bathroom because I couldn’t hold back the sobs. This one picture just burned into my heart- one of my daughter’s other mom with her immediate family. There was this space that just would have fit our daughter… this little hole, a gap, the place she would have filled if life was perfect and turned out the way it should. All their expressions mirrored ones I have seen on our daughter’s face many times over. I’m getting upset again just remembering it…. it breaks my heart.

    I love my daughter with all my heart and soul. And because I love her, I mourn for what she has lost. It’s not fair. My heart goes out to all adoptees who see those family pictures with the gap where they should be.


    • TAO

      November 20, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      Thanks Tiffany – I could find the words to explain how even though I wanted to see those pictures and how eager I was to view them – seeing them brought out really hard emotions I didn’t expect. Thanks for figuring out what I was trying to say…


  5. cb

    November 20, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    There is a photo of my grandmother with all her grandchildren (except for the youngest that hadn’t been born) and I feel sad looking at it because there is a grandchild missing (me) that she doesn’t know about. Also, looking at my bmother’s obituary, everyone living is listed including her nephews/nieces but of course there is no “survived by her daughter X”.

    On a slightly different note, I went to a party to celebrate an uncle and aunts wedding anniversary. It was actually really nice, it felt really comfortable and I got to meet some other relatives. However, one of my relatives who was taking photos decided to take a photo of my uncle and his siblings altogether and they wanted me up there to fill the spot of my bmother (who died a long time ago) I felt really embarrassed and said no but they insisted so I posed for the pictures (it doesn’t help that I look dreadful in the pictures). Anyway, even though it is different to what we are talking about here, I did feel awkward about the photo for a few reasons – I suspect I would have felt more comfortable about it if I had been her raised daughter – however, as her adopted out daughter, I don’t even know if she would have wanted me in the picture.

    As for looking at other photos of my bmother and family, there are photos of her holding her nephews at various christenings and I know it is highly unlikely she held me (that was the policy at the time). There are some later summer & beach photos where her belly is exposed and one would never know that she had ever had a baby. I have all the photos I have of her in chronological order and I know where I “come in” but there is no proof of my existence before or after. I do love all the photos though because they give an insight into my bmother and the rest of the family life at the time.

    On the whole though, when it comes to being in reunion with the extended family, I don’t feel too out of place because even though my uncles are close to each other, their families aren’t on top of each and other and all have their own lives (they are also spread throughout the state). So I feel a bit like I’d lived overseas for many years and came home and met relatives. The advantage with extended family is that one can have any type of relationship with them. For example, I don’t even know the names of half my adoptive cousins (they are overseas) but they are still cousins – I knew some adoptive uncles and aunts better than others but all uncles/aunts were still all my uncles/aunts. So when it came to have a relationship with biological uncles/aunts and cousins, they would still be my relatives whatever my level of relationship. I actually am closer to them than my adoptive extended family (which wasn’t hard considering that lack of relationship with adoptive uncles/aunts/cousins).

    One thing also about uncles and aunts in general is that we (i.e. people in general) don’t use prefixes for the non-biological uncle/aunt – because they are married to our uncles/aunts, they also become just our uncles/aunts. My aunts who have married into the family are every bit as part of the family as their husbands even though they of course have their own extended family. So sometimes I feel a bit like them, i.e. I feel a bit like an in-law – I am part of the family but also have another family.


  6. jacinta parkes

    November 21, 2014 at 8:06 am

    cb – your mum would have loved you to take her place in the picture. i wish my daughter would let me send her all the photos…she feels she needs to “be loyal” to her adoptive mother – she says she would have looked for me when she was ready…she’s nearly 40 now, wonder when she would have been ready?


  7. Beth

    November 21, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    I so know what you mean about feeling like an in-law. It really does feel that way sometimes. I fit in in that way easily. Not having to have a prefix to call my Uncle Bob, Uncle Bob and his wife Aunt Ann… I dig it. It’s just easy, a simple Aunt and Uncle.

    The feelings all along, then meeting and seeing the pictures, hearing the stories, the “Oh, I guess you had to be there to get it” and the new added feelings all that brought…
    This has been the toughest thing for me all along, the void, then filling it, seeing it and now living with it, attempting to find my real place in it. It’s not so easy!

    I have seriously exploded over two things. What you are talking about in this post – the unknown and unknown filled in with some info (and some hugs:) )

    And being denied my vital info to my face by a person holding my info in their hands.

    Those have been the two biggies for me.

    My hard part now is since I couldn’t find anyone until I was 40, I now get to watch my many aunts, uncles, and soon enough, my parents, die. It’s not easy to know the proper way, or how I am supposed to do this. I have only met many of them once or twice for a short time. My Dad and his wife act as though it is my responsibility to come to their funerals. Which wouldn’t be such a big deal if I didn’t live 600+ miles away. Sometimes I don’t feel like I should be there. Just like sometimes I don’t feel right being in the family pictures with them. Sometimes it’s like I am photo bombing the pic LOL Sort of like it’s not my place, I don’t fit, I am not supposed to be there, I certainly feel like I need permission.

    I’m trying not to feel too bad about not attending the funerals.
    My anger kicks in and I think; I really don’t feel a responsibility to be there like I would with family I grew up knowing. It’s not my fault, I chose none of this, and I can’t be blamed for not being there, in my deep angry opinion.
    And it is very difficult emotionally. I told my dad, when he was aggravated when I said I wasn’t coming to another funeral; “I have been mourning the loss of these people my whole life, and found full time mourning after I met them and found what I truly had lost. Maybe you should catch up with me, Dad, I don’t need a day at the gravesite to do this. I can’t mourn anymore about the loss of them, I’m done.”

    I know your mom wanted you in those pics, just like mine. We were always supposed to be there. So be there if you want, I do think it’s your choice! Heck, photo bomb them sometime, just because you can 🙂


  8. heather rogers

    November 25, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    I understand how u all feel my name is heather rogers and I have written a book called the adopted one which might interest u all luv heatherx


  9. phaydramorgan

    November 29, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    I completely understand where you’re coming from. My family has been separated by adoption in one way or another on both sides of my family for lose to 100yrs. I am a living testament to years gone by, things i’ll never know, and 20 yrs later if I only knew then what I know now. It’s taken me a very long time to get my story out, and i just started writing. Check out my blog, Second gen birthmom, you’ll find we have alot in common.



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