ManWeek is an initiative by ReachOut – a valuable step forward encouraging young men to share their thoughts about being a guy.
Without a doubt this is something I’d never thought I’d share across a blog. 20 something years ago I was adopted from an orphanage in Bogota, Colombia. It’s something I live with. Something I think about every day. It’s everything and nothing to me. It’s taken me, and is still taking me, most of my life so far, to accept that it is just something a part of me, but that there is so much more.
Being a guy I’ve always felt the need to be hard. To be ruthless with feeling. To be self assured. The same feelings that I felt gave me strength, left me feeling totally isolated. I learned to live a different life. I still don’t let anyone too close too quickly.
The photo above is me sitting in La Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City) after trekking for 3 days into the Colombian jungle
I spoke to Marky P about this. Massive inspiration across so many different levels – this post really belongs to his blog.
Life before knowing I was adopted
I’ve known since birth. My brother is blonde, white with green eyes – so I was reminded from when I was young. It was a really hard thing to explain to people when you’re 5 years old why you and your brothers are different ‘colours’. I remember lying about it once. At 5 years old, I’d never felt so guilty before. I’ve never lied about it again.
Experience: The judgment of others, and the judgement of myself.
How I found out I was adopted
Parents always discussed it with me. “Where do babies come from” was a very different conversation with me. I think I would have only been 18 months (or whenever babies start to talk) that they started showing me where I was from. You might have had a “Where do babies come from book” – you know those books for babies? – I had one called “Why was I adopted” which was also for infants.
Experience: That I experienced birth like none other I knew (at that time).
How I felt
Confused. My whole outlook was always up and down. It’s hard to tell if I was naturally emotional or if that this made me emotional because I went through so many different feelings. I once went to a doctor and was asked to fill out medical history (of family) to which I wrote ‘N/A’ and the doctor looked at me coldly and said “What? Is your whole family dead?” I said “They could be, I really have no idea.”
It becomes a search for ‘truth’ – whatever that is, to answer questions of why.
Experience: Blame. It’s weird, there’s no real blame anywhere. Yet I felt like I needed to put some on someone.
Highschool – where you think you know who you are, by trying to be everyone else. Having felt alone for so long – you look to feel a part of something all over again. You tell yourself you don’t give a shit; that you’re a guy and that none of this matters to guys. That I should get back to chasing girls.
After the first 4 years of highschool, running around with different crowds, I gave in. I let go of caring about the judgement views of others and starting doing my own thing. I still continued to perform with different bands; kept playing soccer; continued enjoying the company of my closest friends. I just wanted to be whatever I wanted. And that was fine. I started to feel happy.
People think I’m gay; straight; happy; sad; too old; too young; too busy; lazy blah bah. But I just wanted to be me. And that’s what happened. And again, I learned acceptance.
Experience: Life is what you want it to be. You have that control and will to bend, twist and craft whatever you want.
Thinking about finding my biological family
Talk to any adopted child and they’ll have a different perspective. In fact, I think while you’re growing up it changes over time. Sometimes you want to more than anything; sometimes the thought tears you apart; and at other times it seems as a nice to know.
Experience: Acceptance. That everything happens. And it will happen. We are everything that we want to be.
Hard. I procrastinated for so long. It ended up being over the internet, followed by a letter, to which I received an email reply (after leaving an email address). 12 months later I went over with 5 mates who would share one of the pinnacle moments of my life with me. I wrote every day, and still have not published any of this, nor read it again.
Meeting my mother, my 3 sisters, and my half brother and half sister, two nieces and nephew was incredible, I’m still never sure how to explain the feeling. I now know every circumstance I was adopted under.
Experience: Reborn. My life started again.
The journey: is a search for truth, and answers
It felt like it feels to SCUBA diving at night with sharks. Honestly. You jump into the water, swallow all your pride, and decide that it’s worth everything to be here, if I don’t make it out alive, at least I did something that might mean something one day.
Then you jump.
Best thing I’ve ever done. That’s all you need to know.
It’s a fuel. A fuel for self-destruction, a fuel for strength, a fuel for emotion, a fuel for apathy. It is measure of value, fortune and gratitude.
Some thoughts for adopted men
- You are not alone
- Your parents are the ones who raised you, your family is who you make it
- It’s OK to care about your parents, it’s OK to give a fuck
- The decision is yours. You never have to find out, you’re not succeeding or failing at anything you don’t set out to do
What I’ve learned
- I have a strong connection with my family
- I have a strong connection with children
- Adopted children share an experience which bonds them, no story is the same
- That I am incredibly fortunate to be where I am, and know the people I know
- I haved lived in too much fear, guilt and anger
What I want to be
- A father. A good father.
- To support and be there for any other adoptee (working on something at the moment)