…of your teenage self, what advice would you offer? Here’s what I would say if I could travel through time and encourage the younger Elaine…
Quit feeling embarrassed because you are an adopted daughter!
I notice that your parents Richard and Reva seem afraid to let anyone know that you aren’t their biological offspring. WHY they hide that important truth is anyone’s guess. I’ll keep saying this until you believe it: Being adopted is nothing to cover up.You can tell anyone you like. I give you permission.
Dear young Elaine, why not ask your Mom and Dad (calling them “Richard and Reva” sounds a bit unfriendly) how you came to be their daughter? You might actually be doing them a favor. They will not send you back to foster care, I guarantee. True, when you asked your new Mom about your “real” mother, she got tears in her eyes and said “I’m your real mother and you’re my REAL daughter.” Yes, I know you wanted to die just then. But your question was OK.
Don’t be afraid to keep up with the questions. They might act hurt and disappointed at first but they will get over it! They chose you and your brother Johnny and they mean to keep you.
I know that you have a lot of guilt about snooping in your adopted Dad’s files, trying to find letters from your birthfather, trying to learn what happened during the first five years of your life- the time before you became the college professor’s daughter. You were reprimanded and now no one will talk about it. I know you are afraid, that you feel guilty and traitorous, and I understand that you are very nervous about revealing your curiosity. Believe it or not, this is the perfect time for you to ask those burning questions. Think Pandora’s Box minus the negative consequences.
I see that you basically hate the way you look. Stop! Desist! Quit raking yourself over the coals! Even though you think losing a few pounds will make you happier, it will not. You are beautiful from the inside out. Your smile is one that inspires people to smile back. Dry your tears and spend time in nature. It is to become your haven.
In closing, I urge you to shift your perspective from shame to self-respect. Take pride in the fact that you survived the jolt of being “transplanted” when you were just past four years old. You did nothing wrong in being born to a mother who was unable (or unwilling) to parent. It will not serve you well to remain silent about the questions that haunt your every waking hour. Writing about these concerns is good, but it is not enough. Ask and demand answers. Don’t be afraid to be identified as the adopted daughter. Dear younger me, please know that you are lovable just the way you are.