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  • Writer's pictureErin E. McEndree

Growing up I remember being called so many names. Not the good kind of names like Darling or Honey or Sweet Pea, but names like Vulture, Red, Coppertop (like the battery) and Orange Crush (like the soda). My hair was the color of a bright terra-cotta pot. It was so striking, before anyone asked my mom my name, they would comment on the color of my hair.

It was very annoying and hurtful, but it didn’t affect my whole life. My mom would say, “Look around. No one else has hair the color of yours. You are unique.” I was unique in school until my senior year. That freshman class had four natural red-headed kids and I was actually a little jealous because I was not the only one any more.


I constantly remember hearing how unique I was because I was the only one in school, in town for that matter, that had hair the color of the orange sun setting in the west. My mom encouraged me to not look like everyone else. Basically, it boiled down to this: how I responded.


Some of these words often confused in the adoption arena are heritage, ancestor, nationality and legacy. Here are the true definitions:


Heritage: This encompasses all the traditions, achievements, beliefs and memories that are part of your history since birth. You were immersed in these growing up. Some you may continue as your own, some you may have discontinued.

Ancestors: These are known people in your past that you can trace through information and stories. They can be biological or adoptive parents or both just on different branches.

Nationality: This is a group of people you may not even know. This is your race and ethnicity. You cannot change this no matter who raises you.

Legacy: It is something received from the past that you can choose to use, carry forward or discard. You will be a living legacy that creates good or bad qualities to pass to others.


What had to happen in your family tree just right for you to be where you are now? What heritage and legacy are you passing on to your family? If you don’t like what is in your past and handed down, use it as a teaching tool to educate your family and friends on better ways. My story was filled with murder, adultery, bad character, drinking, abuse and bad cooking. All I can do is do better and be better so when stories are told about me, there is an element of redemption, hope, perseverance and forgiveness others down the line want to emulate.


It all goes back to finding what you want to be faithful to and sticking with it. Be you! Find you. Don’t waste time on what you lost. Start creating memories based on what you found. Decide what that means. I decided to choose my adoptive parents' heritage and ancestry. I chose them back because my bio was unknown. Even now that I know my biological mother, I still chose the heritage I grew up knowing. I believe as adoptees we have something biological kids don’t: we can choose what we identify with. I chose to adopt all the good, bad and ugly of my adoptive family and I didn’t change my choice when I met my birth mother. I just added to my knowledge and it has made my life richer and fuller. I am still working on my legacy and how I want to be remembered.


What is Detrimental to Faithfulness? Deception.

What is detrimental to faithfulness? Deception. Being unsure, fickle and impressionable causes you to be deceived more easily. How can you ward off deception? Take a stance. What is stance? What does it mean to take a stand? It means you know what you stand for, you know what you value and you do it unapologetically.


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I can't wait to share more as I get each chapter complete. I would like your feedback. This is only an excerpt. The chapter is 29 pages. If you want to read it all, you'll have to wait for the release. Much, much more to come.


Erin


  • Writer's pictureErin E. McEndree

There are so many issues that adoptees deal with. One very common situation for adoptees is feeling left out of their bio family and/or their adoptive family. Maybe this is not a problem you deal with, but many do feel this way and I want to offer a different way to relate. If you have a recommendation for adoptees that has helped you, please put it in the comments.


Relate is the root word in relation. To relate means to have a connection as in a relationship.

When you see pictures on social media of bios or adoptive family together at birthdays, holiday party or other events having fun, is your first reaction to think, "They don't even know I exist."



Issue: You feel like you are not included.

Your mind goes into overdrive thinking about all the ways they are conniving behind your back to leave you out and hurt you. When in reality, they may not have been thinking of you at all. Why? They don't have a strong relationship with you. They may not have invited you on purpose because someone they have known for 20 or 30 years could not handle it emotionally, yet. Their relationships are stronger with people have known longer.


Trap: They are doing this to hurt you.

What do you do?

Number One: Don’t get offended. You don’t know the motives for situations. You have not been there during conversations about YOU. I've heard adoptees say they were handed to strangers. It only makes sense that when you do not know someone for decades, they are strangers, also. Now, bio think the adoptee is a stranger. It takes time to build trust. It takes memories. It takes time and many times to build a relationship that is comfortable being inclusive. And it takes longer when more people are involved. Don't get offended.


Number Two: Many people are selfish. Many people don't like change. When family seems comfortable, many people don't want to add another person to mess up the dynamic. Have you had this happen when a family member gets a boyfriend or girlfriend and they start coming to family events? Some people will never be okay with you, but being overbearing makes you seem pushy and possessive. Be OK with it. Maybe it’s not the right time. People are selfish...don't be that person.


Number Three: Take the initiative. You be the one to text, send cards, invite on outings and get together even if it is when you are driving through town. I realize this is harder when they live far away, but there are ways to connect. Be the one who is kind and thinks of others. It will finally pay off and be seen as caring.


Number Four: What are you going to do when it doesn't work? This step is so important. Decide beforehand what you will do when you see the social media pictures and you were not invited. Decide how much of it you will allow to affect you. I've heard of people setting a timer or time limit. They say, "I will think about this for an hour or until tomorrow at 9am and then I will let it go." If you really think about it, they are not thinking about you anyway so you are only hurting yourself.


Reality: Taking a different approach can change the whole relationship.

I know a person who sits in the shadows, does not interact, gets upset because she is not included and does not accept invitations when she is invited. Once, she wrote a long post about not being included, no one talking to her and not being invited to anything. I'm not sure what she was trying to accomplish, but many were really confused because they had tried to do all those things. Her reality did not match the situation. It is important to try and see things as they are and decide what part you have in it and what you can control and what you can't.


When there is an absence of relationship, an absence of time spent, an absence of memories made, there will be an absence of inclusion. Taking the initiative, over and over and being patient can change a relationship in time.


What are some ways you have been included or been inclusive that would help other adoptees on their life's journey?


  • Writer's pictureErin E. McEndree

Should the adoptee search for his her biological family?

Should a birth mother search for the child she relinquished?

Should the adoptive parents help facilitate a meeting?


These questions are so very personal for each one in the adoption arena. However, there are some common questions that relate to all three that are good to mull over before jumping into a full blown search for answers.


To start, realize there is no answer that applies to all three in the arena, only the question. Each one will know a different amount of details about their adoption story. Each one deciphers the details differently, thus making one pat answer impossible.


What is right for one is not right for another. No one should not

push their opinion and preference on another. Beliefs are so different among the group.


For example, I had a man tell me I must find my biological father to get medical information, if not for me then for my children. Well, Mr. B, that is not for you to decide, but if you want to search for yours, then I support your decision. Your experience is not my experience. Also, I factor in faith and don't believe that just because my bios have something I am destine to get it too. My faith also says I can handle anything that happens because I tap into the Supernatural peace and healing God supplies. Sometimes healing is done in heaven, not here on earth.


Here are some good questions that apply to all three in the adoption arena if you are thinking about searching. Ask yourself these questions and apply them to your situation. The key is to be confident in your answers so no one can sway you or offend you. It is also important to be confident in who you are before and after the search. Let no information rock your world no matter what you find.


Number One


What is your motive?

What is the end goal you are wanting to accomplish? If you

think finding this person will magically fix your problems, or fill the void you

feel, then you do not have a foundation that cannot be shaken.


Putting that much power and pressure on another person to make you act or feel differently rarely goes well.

Ask yourself: What is the origin of your issues? Is it really adoption or how you think about adoption?

Are you allowing your feelings to control you?


Number Two

If your end goal is to just find medical information and/or ethnicity, you rarely get just that info esp if you take a DNA test. Bios can contact you. I've heard so many times that so many relatives come out of the woodwork they didn't expect.


Are you willing to get all the information-even the information you didn't

expect? Are you willing to deal with people contacting you, you didn't expect?


Number Three


What will you do when you find them or they find you? Many people do not think ahead let alone plan ahead when they find bios or bios find them.

Will you be honest with your family?

Will you talk to them through email, text or phone?

What boundaries will you set?

When do you feel comfortable meeting and who will you take with you?

What will you call/label them? What if they call you something you are not comfortable with, what do you do?

What if they don't invite you to a family party?

How soon do you want to ask the hard questions?

Are you going to get upset if it is too painful for questions to be answered?

How will you handle affection? How will you handle more rejection?


All these questions are rooted in what you stand for and what you believe. The answers will be different for each woman in the adoption arena.


What is detrimental to this process? Having the wrong motives, not preparing for the unexpected and not planning your actions and responses beforehand.


You have to know your stance on the issues. By stance, I mean your attitude towards the whole situation. What standpoint do you have? What is important to you?

If it is to demand your rights, things will not go well. Think about this: What if your birth mother feels her rights are violated when a closed adoption is broken. Relationships don't go well with those motives.


What did I do? I waited on the Lord. I had enough faith to decide before hand how I would feel and act if I found no information. However, I got information

within an hour so I took another step. Then I got another person confirming I should call her. That person didn't even know the situation. So, I took another step. No doors were closed, so I kept going through them until I called my birth mother in Dec of 2009. There were signs over and over to keep pursuing reunion.



I didn't allow anyone to discourage me because I knew God wasn't speaking to them. He was speaking to me.


So, its your turn. Tell me your best advice for deciding to search or not. Do you feel like you went too fast? Did it turn out like you expected? Everyone has a different story.


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