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Lori Paris

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The Complete Picture
by Lori Paris   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Saturday, May 01, 2004
Posted: Saturday, May 01, 2004

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Recent articles by
Lori Paris

Are You Ready?
I Found My Birth Parents
Open Your Heart
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How does it feel to be adopted?


When you are adopted, there is a void, an emptiness, a hole in your life. Being adopted means there is no beginning, no basis, no platform from which you first step. You simply are this empty vessel. You know nothing of your background. There are so many questions there simply are not answers for. Where did I get my sparkly green eyes? My curly brown hair? What is my heritage? Who are my ancestors? What were my parents like? Did they love me? Why was I given up? Where does my personality come from? Whom do I most resemble? We have thousands of questions and an endless curiosity. As a result, adoptees often feel their life is incomplete. It is a basic human desire to know one’s background, to know one’s roots. Many of us have a yearning, a burning need, a longing so strong to find answers, that we may always feel a bit lost and alone without them.

Adoptees often feel different from everyone else, rather than feeling special or unique, we often feel disconnected or distant. We don’t want to be different, we want to be like everyone else, and yet, we can never be by virtue of the fact that we grew up in an unnatural environment. It is not natural to be raised without your first parents, especially your mother. This is not meant to take anything away from the adoptive parents. It has nothing to do with love, for adoptive parents clearly love their children. The fact of the matter remains that adoptive parents are surrogates. They can come close, but can never completely replace the love of a natural parent.

The problem is, when you are adopted, instead of the truth, which is not available to you, you get substitutions. Substitutions are better than nothing, but still, they are just a replacement for the truth, no matter how well meaning they may be. And because they are substitutions, that makes them somewhat artificial. You’re living a made up existence, your life is made up of bits and pieces from your adopted family’s background, but it is not your own true reality. You take on your adoptive parents heritage, religion, and traditions. Your history is that of your adoptive family. What most people take for granted is not natural to an adoptee. It is a counterfeit life you live, no matter how loving or caring the environment. Essentially, we adopt a life that is not ours. Adoptees are adapters.

I once had a man ask me why would I want to find my first mother. My answer to him was, why wouldn’t I? Why wouldn’t I want to know the circumstances? Why wouldn’t I want to know who she is? Why wouldn’t I have room for her in my life?

If you have an opportunity to reunite with your first parents, it can be a defining moment. An experience so intense, so life changing, it can not often be adequately described in words. For the first time in your life, whether you are 16 or 60, you can look in another’s eyes and see a reflection of yourself. For an adoptee, this opportunity to see yourself mirrored in someone else can be a start to feeling whole. If you experience reunion, there comes a time, an opportunity to have those questions answered, the questions that have been in your heart and mind from the very beginning of your life. Even if some of the answers may not be to your liking, there is still such a sense of satisfaction. For whether or not you like the answers you get, they are your answers. You own them. Once you know where you come from, it’s the beginning of knowing where you’re going. Yes, genetics play a role. But there is also the matter of a bond, a primal link, a lifeline. To actually have blood relations for the first time in your life is incredible. For me blood equates family, and family means everything, whether it’s good, bad, or ugly. To find out your true background is so meaningful. When you meet your first parents, or perhaps siblings, you no longer feel alone any more. You don’t feel quite so different anymore, for here are people that are like you. Here is the reason for your quirks, your mannerisms, your disposition. Here is the place where you started. It is quite miraculous.

Reunion can led to sheer joy, or devastating disappointment, or fall somewhere in between. But whatever the case may be, it makes you more real than you have ever been before. It makes you whole, complete, and connected in a way you never have been. Reunion also depends on what you, as an individual bring to the table. If you are angry, if you have issues with your first mother or father, it can be a catastrophe, a bitter disappointment. On the other hand, if you are open to hearing the truth, open to understanding and forgiveness, it can be your road to a better life, a far better sense of yourself. Acceptance is key. You may have a sense of validation, of being understood, something that you may have never felt before. Reunion can be both an end and a beginning. An end to all the wondering, the dreaming, the doubts, the fears, the sadness, the loneliness, and the longing. But it is a beginning of enlightenment, the beginning of finally knowing your inner self, your core. It’s an answer to who you are and how you got here. It is the beginning of a peace of mind and contentment you may have never experienced before.

For me, reunion changed my life in a way I never thought possible. I knew it would be meaningful, but I had no idea how meaningful. For the first time, I felt I belonged somewhere, I felt connected in every way to someone, warts and all. I was not looking for perfection. I was only looking for answers, my answers. It was my history, my background, my story. My identity. For me, reunion was the first step on the path of understanding. A way to put all of the puzzle pieces together to form one complete picture. Is reunion easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes. If you are fortunate enough to have such an opportunity, embrace it. I not only found out where I came from, but who I really am deep down inside. I don’t have to ask why anymore. Finally, after years of wondering, I found the truth. I was real. I was home.

Reader Reviews for "The Complete Picture"

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Reviewed by Vicky Jeter 5/2/2004
Hi Lori
I don't believe we've met. I thoroughly enjoyed your article
as this touches people in my life. As an advocate and a voice for
adoptees, I was wondering if you are aware of APPPAH - The Association for Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Health. There site is at Their interests span the entire range
of challenges in being born--and adoption is certainly a significant area of their interest. Vicky
Reviewed by Lynn Barry 5/2/2004
Thanks for the indepth look into the heart and soul of an adopted person...HUGS
Reviewed by Joyce Rapier 5/2/2004
Lori, your article is remarkable. I knew when I first met you, you were special. What exactly? I am not sure, but a substance (a being) in your eyes sparkled. Your eyes danced, and I had no idea why. When I read your book, "Follow Your Heart", the connection became clear. There was no mistaking, uniting with your birth mother and relatives became so obvious, I was elated to understand why I thought you were so special. Your article, "The Complete Picture", is so in depth, and is a wealth of information to those searching for their birth parents. Thank you for opening so many eyes to the bittersweet pain of being adopted, and letting them know what to expect. The joy of happy a reunion can be seen in your eyes. Bless you, Lori.
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 5/1/2004
wonderfully optimistic and compelling story! thanks for sharing!
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