Adoption = Interview with Richard

This week, Richard was kind enough to allow me to interview him about adoption. His candor and willingness to dig deep are impressive. You’re going to love him.

So, tell me a little about your adoption.

I was adopted domestically when I was three days old.

You have an adopted sibling, correct?

My parents adopted my brother when he was about a month old. We’re not biological siblings. We didn’t really get along, growing up, and aren’t very close now. He’s six years older.

How would you describe your parents’ relationship with each other?

They are loyal and loving to each other. My mother has a more dominant personality than my father.  I never saw them fight and my father instilled a high standard of patience and love.

How would you describe your relationship with your parents?

Mostly good. When you grow up you learn how to do deal with people’s personalities in healthier ways. My mom tends to be passive-aggressive and avoid hard things. I discovered it really affected me growing up and I had to grow out of some of these behaviors.

I think our differences have to do with the major personality differences between us. They are introverts, and I am definitely an extrovert. They are completely happy to live simple lives. I need a bit of chaos and want to change the world.

I’m doing my best to learn to nurture these relationships in a healthy way.

What are some of the things they really “got right” as they parented?

I was always loved, always safe, always fed. Most of the time, they listened to me and encouraged me. I think the best things they did in regards to adoption is that my parents told me since I was young that I was adopted but treated me like I was no different than if I was their own son.

What do you wish they’d done differently?

I wish they pushed me a little harder. I really struggled with Anxiety and ADD and I felt like I lost so much time.

As I grew up, I had to discover that I needed distraction and some form of chaos, I am a very passive person, and really know how to hold on to my emotions, but I only felt alive when something was wrong or needed to be fixed.
I also should have been sent to an adoption counselor at a young age. I didn’t seem unhappy and back then we didn’t have studies or people like you addressing these issues I was safe, but I didn’t feel safe. I always had this feeling, “everyone will leave me.”  I couldn’t identify where the feelings came from.
This may be more biological but my depression wasn’t everything is awful. More like “everything is boring.” Nothing seemed fun, nothing seemed pretty.  Maybe I was a good actor. I never lashed out with it and I tried to be a good kid, but I was really hurting inside.

Are you close with your wife’s family?

My wife’s mom is one of the most amazing and supportive people I’ve ever met. She calls me and tells me she’s proud of me.

Do you want contact with your birth family?

Yes and no. I’d like some closure, but I don’t want to disrupt anyone’s life (more than I did twenty-some years ago). I do look to see if anyone is searching for me, specifically my mother.

I check adoption finder websites about once a year. She knew my name so I don’t think it would be difficult to find me. I found her last name through some people I met on forums who have access to that kind of information I’ve looked up the name on Facebook to see if anyone looked like me. Doing this isn’t very productive. 🙂

What are your thoughts on adoption, in general?

The definition of mercy is: “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.” I think this is what adoption is. It’s not always pretty and will be a challenge, but you are doing a thing that most people are not able to do.
My biological mother chose the hard way to deal with an unwanted pregnancy and knew she could not care for me. My parents chose to take me in and take care of me.

If you had a magic wand to “fix the system,” what would you do?

Identifying the physiological issues and perhaps behavioral issues that adoptees face. I like what we are seeing in the advancement of identifying of some of the issues involved. I think the adoption process should include mandatory counseling.

How do you define yourself?

I think I have a gift of being both technical and creative. I can identify challenges at work and home and address them. I can think clearly in emotional situations. I thrive in exciting situations.

Did you ever feel different, being adopted?

I felt different because I wasn’t anything like my parents. My example of who I should be was much different then who I was. Growing up I didn’t accept me for me. I needed to be like THEM.

I didn’t link it to adoption, but I never felt like I fit in with my friends, either. I always felt left out. I was surrounded by people but incredibly lonely.

“Surrounded by people but incredibly lonely;” I think that describes my kiddos to a T. In fact, last night, my son told me no one in his class likes him. By their positive reactions when he walks into the room, I know many of them like having him there, but his perception is that they don’t. As a mother, how can I help him?

That’s tough, because you’re the mom. Honestly I’d open up to them. Tell them what you struggle with and how you overcome it.  I think all this work you are doing is going to help tremendously. You’re recognizing that adoption isn’t simple.

Do you feel there are struggles specific to adopted children? How can we address those?

Definitely. We need to help adoptees understand who they are to address the issues they’re experiencing. We need to accept that they’re different from their adopted parents. Don’t just assume they’re “okay” and don’t try to force them into a mold.

What do you think you really “got right” as you grew up?

I lived to have fun but tried to stay out of trouble. As a kid, I was hyper, but I was kind.

What do you wish you had done differently?

I wish I treated my ADD and depression earlier in life. I wish I used that time that I wasted on art. I just feel like I lost so much time.

If you have the opportunity to adopt, do you think you’ll do it?

Perhaps. I don’t know. I won’t walk into it blindly.

What advice would you give adoptive parents and adopted children?

Parents, you should definitely love your children as your own, but also accept that they are different. Encourage them to follow their interests. Pay attention to them, but don’t smother them. Don’t keep adoption information from your child.

Adoptees, it’s okay to feel different. Explore your gifts. Seek help when you need it. Don’t act out in anger. You’re going to be angry at some point, but you need to identify why. Use that emotion to fuel your gifts. Learning who you are may be challenging, but remember that you’re never alone.

Richard is in his late twenties and works in digital media. He and his lovely wife have been married almost three years. They live in California with their pets, a dog and a cat.

About Casey

Adoption = my life. I'll give it to you straight. Success, failure, truth.

Posted on March 25, 2015, in Adoption = Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Start of a life long love they will never forget,
    M

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve learned so much about this subject from your blog. My son and his wife air thinking of adopting one day. So I guess as a grandfather I will be prepared.

    I loved the interview.

    Like

  3. whisper2scream

    Well done. I’ve not conducted many interviews, so I don’t really know any better. But the flow you create with your inquiry is fabulous. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Many thoughts about this. The big one is I appreciate Richard and his openness. I hear the voice of a man who is taking responsibility for himself. I hear the voice of a man who is a man. Good for him, good for you because you found him and great for us because we get the insight into his background.

    I am a natural born kid and so is my wife. My daughter is natural born but my son is adopted. His skin color is nothing like the three of us so we have never tried to hide the fact that the early story of his life is different than ours. Other than the differences in gender, they are treated the same. But I and my wife are very cognizant about his mental state. I am so happy to have Richard’s thoughts about the lack of trust and how he felt alone even when he was surrounded by others. That is good information.

    Having said all that, if I didn’t know better I would have thought that Richard’s story about his feelings were mine. In many ways he described me and how I felt growing up and I still do at times almost 46 years after my birth. I think we all have life issues that come from youth and we have to deal with them as adults. I wonder how many of his issues are directly related to his adoption and how many issues are related to him being human? It is tough being a kid, it is tough being a adult and it is tough being a human.

    To me, the most impressive thing that Richard said is that he is closest to his mother-in-law. I don’t know either Richard, is wife or her mother but I have to agree. I am proud of Richard for taking this huge personal step in his life. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to write such a thoughtful response. I appreciate it and I’m sure Richard will, as well.
      You’re right–I think a lot of the issues addressed are “human” issues. In conducting the interviews, I think what I’m finding is that we all have similar feelings, but it does seem that adopted kids’ experience of those feelings is more extreme, maybe because of PTSD and attachment. Losing the first life connection (with a birth mom) seems to me to be a logical cause, but I’m not a sociologist…I’m just listening. 🙂 Thanks so much for reading and for being a great dad (I can tell). 😉

      Like

  5. This is fantastic, Casey. And you’re right, Richard’s amazing. He is so open and aware of himself at such a young age.

    And I really like this interview format! It is nice because it is easy to see who is doing the talking without having all those labels in front. And great questions! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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