• Anne Royse

Adoption Side Effects

It’s true that sometimes I felt like the odd one out. The black sheep. It might be easy to point to the adoption thing and just blame it on that. But I have plenty of friends who feel the same way in their own biological families. Maybe being adopted just puts the highlight on it. The truth is that my adoption was rarely mentioned, except on my special day—the anniversary of the day my parents took me home. So while it wasn’t always at the forefront of my thoughts, it was always this thing. Maybe it’s like how arthritis is for some people. It acts up if the weather’s bad. I’m forever grateful to my family for not setting me aside as something “other” than them. I’m the sister. The daughter. Not the adopted sister or the adopted daughter. Perhaps the occasional feeling of being a bit black-sheepish was compounded by the fact that I was the middle child. Not just adopted but sandwiched between the two biological children of my parents. My brother came just a year after me. A lot of people thought we were twins. We were Irish twins—with a twist.

I sometimes worried whether I was loved as much as the rest of my family. I’d count how many presents each of us got at Christmas. As if that might provide some clue as to whether the love was equal. Years later, my mom and I laughed about this because of course, at the time, I hadn’t had a sense of value and cost. I suppose they kept it fairly even. I would have noticed if my sister had gotten a pony, my brother a puppy, and me a stuffed animal from a garage sale. But the fear was real.

If I sensed any tiny discrepancy, there were times when I’d panic. Of course, there were times when my dad thought it was hilarious. At Christmas: “Uncle Tom gave you five dollars? That’s funny, he gave Amy and Chris ten! Hahaha! I’m just teasing!” Just about everyone has heard that one before . . . but it seemed to cut me a little deeper. I was often told to “get a thick skin.” I'm now Teflon. Hopefully more of the breathable kind that lets love in, but doesn't let negativity stick. That's the goal.

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