“What’s for you in this life, you will get. And what is not for you, you will never get. ” Words spoken by the illustrious Academy, Tony, SAG, Peabody, Emmy and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner, Cicely Tyson in her autobiography, “Just As I Am”. Her words have provided the answers to one of my oldest questions. Why was I adopted?
I always knew I was adopted. My parents told all of us, my 3 siblings and I, the story of our adoptions as they tucked us in at night. At first being adopted was a great thing until I attended an adoption convention. At this convention I saw catalogs of children who needed homes. And I, being a very sensitive child, felt an overwhelming sense of guilt that I had been given a home and a family and the children in the catalogs may not.
Guilt followed me into my teens and a feeling of abandonment came around age 16 when I began to learn a few things about my bio- mom. She gave birth to me at age 16, but I had an older brother, who she had and kept at 15.
When I left for college, I had no direction, my emotions ran riot and I was full of fears. I tried to drown my pains with alcohol, drugs and men and got pregnant at age 19. I knew that I could not raise a child or bring a child in to the world to possibly end up in a catalog. I also knew that I could not be a teenage mom like my biological mother, so I had an abortion.
I began to search for my biological family in my late 20’s while struggling to stay clean and sober. When I found them, I learned that my bio-mom was an alcoholic and an addict and had multiple children after me.
My brother and I formed a relationship and found many of our remaining siblings. Unfortunately, this relationship was cut short when he went to jail for several years. While incarcerated, he was attacked and maimed by corrections officers. He has since been released, but went into isolation to suffer alone with mental illness.
For 30 years I struggled to understand why I was lucky enough to escape the obstacles my biological mother and brother faced, and then I read Cicely Tyson’s words. “What’s for you in this life, you will get. And what is not for you, you will never get. ” and things became clear.
It was for me to be raised by a loving mother and father surrounded by forests and rivers. It was not for me to be raised by a teenage, addicted mother, surrounded by poverty, crime and asphalt. It was for me to get an education, to fail and to rise in-spite of my failures. It was not for me to raise a child while I was a baby myself and it was not for me to be isolated by my mental illnesses.
Cicely Tyson’s words cannot remove my sense of guilt and abandonment, which are not as loud as they were in the past. Ms Tyson’s words allow my guilt and abandonment to be sandwiched between gratitude and hope. Grateful that I have and will receive everything that is meant for me and nothing that is not meant for me. Hopeful that since I am meant to be on this earth, my experiences will help other human beings.