I was adopted when I was seven years old. At the time, I didn't feel the need to hide this from my peers. After all, it would have been difficult to cover up, especially when I came into school one day with a new name.
As I got older, I found that I became more selective about who I told. There are many reasons behind why I suddenly decided to become closed off about my adoption, but the main one surrounds the reaction I would receive from people I told. I would be subjected to a level of scrutiny that made me feel exposed and vulnerable, as intrusive questions were thrown mercilessly at me.
I am more than my adoption. But, it began to feel like every time I did openly talk about my adoption, the more my adoption became the only part of my life that made me an individual. It was almost my defining characteristic. "Oh, there goes Tia, did you know she was adopted?" I became this rare zoo animal that everyone wanted to prod, poke and examine until they understood every element of my being.
Trust me, I do get it. Adoption is a foreign topic for most people. People who haven't gone through the process are bound to be intrigued as to how it all works. But, there's a line. A line that is nearly always crossed.
My problem is that I'm too polite to tell people to back off when they become too invasive. But, when I'm being asked questions like "why were you adopted?", it's hard to keep my cool. Do I really owe anyone an explanation? Do I really owe anyone the explicit details of my life history? Am I not allowed to keep that part of my life sealed behind a door marked "do not disturb?"
I've heard it all. The thing is, the questions do tend to start off innocently. But, once that gateway into my life is opened, the more personal the questions become as I struggle to mumble a response back. It seems that within seconds I'm being asked if I miss my "real parents", as though I won't see my parents at dinner in a mere few hours.
The idea that my adoptive parents are somehow not my "real parents" is ridiculous to me. Even though we may not be biologically related, that does not make me any less their child. After all, the adoption process is gruelling and doesn't end with signing on the dotted line. It's a commitment. My parents had to go through background checks, interviews, assessments, forms, even therapy sessions, as well as having the pressure of providing a stable home for a vulnerable child. That makes them my real parents.
But the interrogation gets more personal and delves into darker territory as I become even more uncomfortable. "Why don't you want to meet your biological parents? Were you abused? Did your parents not want you?"
It's baffling that people feel that they are within their right to ask these types of questions to my face, with no qualms at all. This is also where that line between acceptable and not is often crossed. Every adoption story is different and highly complex. It's never easy for any of the parties involved. But, it's also a private thing and it's my life. It's the lives of thousands of children across the world. Whatever decisions we make are ours to make.
When I'm not being examined under a magnifying glass, I'm having to answer to outrageous stereotypes. "You'd never guess you're adopted, your family seems so normal." Shock horror, I am a part of a normal family. We bicker over who does the dishes. We laugh and joke with one another. We watch The Chase religiously. We have a Sunday roast every week. Just because I'm adopted, does not mean that me or my family are not normal. Families are all different and we should really embrace that.
Yes, I am adopted. Yes, it's had a huge impact on my life. But, I also love Harry Potter, writing and buying way too many clothes. I make the best cup of tea you'll ever drink and I tweet too much. My adoption doesn't define me. So, let's talk about who I am instead of what I've been through.