Adoption Prejudice and School Age

Learning I was Adopted

 

jill cheer0001

Jill the cheerleader.

The Danny Thomas Show

I can still remember my mother telling me I was adopted.  We were sitting in the living room mid-day, I was watching television. I cried.  I didn’t like the sound of it.  What I understood of adoption was that some one didn’t want me so they had given me away; like a dog.  Who wants to find that out about themselves. After all, it’s a tough pill to swallow.

Shortly after I learned I was adopted, The Danny Thomas Show had an episode on adoption.  Their youngest daughter, Kathy, over heard that she was adopted (she really wasn’t).  That was the first time I’d ever seen something like that on television.   Of course it was handled very well, and Kathy was given the “If you were really adopted speech.”  The whole “chosen thing” seems to help the outside communities not make us bigger charity cases than they already try.  The “chosen” message helped me through many disturbing elementary school issues.

Elementary School

This is when prejudice towards adoption became extremely apparent to me.  Another child brings the story that you’re adopted to school and whispers to everyone.  It’s the game of “gossip,” only for real.  In my case, it was a girl I didn’t know very well, and she whispered it around the lunch table that held about ten girls.  When the gossip got to my best friend, she snapped, “Jill already knows that.  Jill you know your adopted don’t you.”  Of course, I could answer yes.   My mother didn’t know the gossip’s mother personally, but recognized her in town.  You wonder what an adult is thinking when they send this type of loaded information to school.  Fortunately, I already knew about it and I had the whole chosen thing down.  Plus, it was good for the other kids to know that I was good with it too.  My grandmother had the same type of experience but it didn’t go good for her; she really didn’t know.  (I wrote about it under her history.)

This is also when the term bastard first came to light.  It’s frightening for a child to be name called by an adult.  Especially, if you are certain that it’s a bad name and you’re fairly certain it’s degrading, but you have no idea what it means.  What I found in my adoptive family were a number of people who absolutely could not accept adoption.  Even on my dad’s side where their mother was adopted.  The thing with that side, they always said, “She knew who she was.” Which somehow made her less adopted than those of us with closed records; it also made her legitimate.  That side enjoyed standing on the Bible if it meant they could be extremely cruel. My aunt obviously planned it, she referred to me as “The Bastard,” in the kitchen at a holiday party. Good way to celebrate Jesus.  (my parents weren’t in the room when she did it)  When her brothers took offense, she had her Bible pre-opened to the exact verse that gave her permission to name call me.  I have to admit that as long as she called me “The Bastard” I had no idea what it meant, but I was so relieved when she stopped.  At the time, I thought she just got busy because her daughter was pregnant, but it was years later that I understood her daughter never married.  God has a sense of humor.  It’s also in my adoption history section.

A younger cousin from my mother’s family felt it necessary to tell me that she was certain everyone knew I was adopted before I knew it.  I’m not sure it was possible since I was extremely young when I was told, and I was just old enough to comprehend the information.  Besides, if that story were true those kids would have told me, they couldn’t keep a secret to save their soul. But, it’s very important for some people to know more about your business than they know about their own.  I’ve never understood the need to broadcast something that could have so much potential for emotional damage for another human being, especially a child.

Junior High School

I really struggled with relationships by Junior High school.  I attended a public school that only had about 600 students in it from Kindergarten through 12th grade, and we were all housed in one building.  By then I’d been told all kinds of horrible stories about my family of birth, and of course, I couldn’t call them on any of it, because my records were sealed and I had no proof.  My parents chewed me out if I mentioned that I was adopted, and I understood why.  I had an elderly man cuss me out once, because that was just how he treated orphans and poor kids.  My mother stopped him.  He didn’t apologize but he quit screaming. Obviously, he thought himself far above us low life.  He stormed off.  I just often wondered why my adoptive parents didn’t chew out their adult family members for displaying worse behavior.

By junior high school, the age of 12, I went from a pudgy awkward little girl to better looking than one of my non adoptive cousins and a couple of the real mean girls at school.  I was hanging out with a popular girl, but she had relationship issues and was extremely devious and insecure. So we ended up being friends so I wouldn’t have to eat lunch alone.  Before I knew it, there were ugly stories being spread around school about me. One of the girls assured me that she would do whatever she had to do to make sure that I never got a date.  My now best friend linked up with those girls and helped spread the rumors.  I was severely devastated, humiliated, and traumatized, and I was afraid to tell my parents.  I now ate lunch standing on the toilet seat in an upstairs bathroom that didn’t get much lunch traffic from girls.  I even knew to select a stall where the door always appeared closed on it’s own, so not to appear out of place if someone did enter the bathroom.

The next thing I know, I’m being called all types of filthy names by kids I didn’t even know.  I was physically punched in the chest and crotch area by a gang of extremely disturbed boys who would threaten to kill you if you told.  The hallways on most school days were like a war zone minefield.  Rape was threatened on the bus.  I complained to the bus driver and he made me sit in the middle of two of the boys making the threats; the worst boy was large and intimidating and always sat in the backseat.  He would shout obscenities across the bus. Unfortunately, I was not the only girl these boys were violating.  I was however, the only adopted child.  Adoption made me their target.  My aunt called me “the adopted trash” as she repeated every story the meanest girls at school could make up.  These boys would travel in a pack of at least five at a time, so there was no defending yourself only huddling in a ball as they took their vilest strokes and hits.  This was a reoccurring problem in our school.  I had nowhere to go.  From there it got worse.

 

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