There was another camper who has really stayed with me since camp, let’s call this one Caitlyn. She was there with two siblings. When her mom brought her to our group on the first day she told me that Caitlyn was born via an egg donor and that they tell her she is partly adopted. Her two siblings are adopted and sometimes Caitlyn feels different because she has a different story. Caitlyn jumped right in with the group. She was outgoing and fun and seemed to be having a great time at camp.
In the middle of the second day, we had an opportunity to sit with the kids and talk about what it meant to be adopted and asked the kids to identify any feelings they had around being adopted. All of the kids raised their hands except for Caitlyn. Most of the kids told their story about what they knew about their birth parents and how they ended up in their adopted families. Most said that they were sad that they were adopted. One of the counselors asked the kids to raise their hands if they were adopted. I was surprised when Caitlyn also raised her hand and told the other kids about coming from an egg donor and that she doesn’t know anything about the woman who donated the egg and that was sad for her. All of the kids listened and no one had a reaction. As soon as she was done, the next kid anxiously started to tell their story. As soon as we moved on to the arts and crafts portion of the activity, Caitlyn asked to speak to me in the hallway. She started to cry and said she was uncomfortable. I asked her to tell me more about what she was feeling. She said she felt different than the other kids and wished she was adopted too. She said she hated being different from her siblings and that they didn’t understand how she felt. I wanted to tell her that every kid in that room would someday be envious of the fact that she was birthed by the woman she calls mom and that her situation was closer to typical. Of course, those were my judgments so I didn’t say anything of the kind to her. What I told her was that every person has something that makes them different. Everyone has something in their lives that makes them feel like they don’t really fit in or don’t belong to one group or another. She looked at me like I was crazy, then got quiet to think about that for a bit.
I’ve continued to think about Caitlyn since camp often. Caitlyn seemed to have it all at 8 years old. She had two parents who loved her very much, she lived in a wealthy neighborhood in Denver, and from what I could see at 8, she was bound to closely resemble Barbie as an adult. Yet, from her perspective, she was different and strange and had a sad story that made her not likeable. She craved to be accepted and the same as her peers. In her house and at adoption camp, being the same meant being adopted and that’s what she wished she had.
If your child is having similar thoughts and feelings as Caitlyn did, please consider family therapy. We will focus on helping you and your child navigate the sea of emotions that come with adoption or surrogacy, depending on your situation. I look forward to hearing from you!