Sitting at the table in McDonalds enjoying the company of a new female friend, I looked out the window and saw my girlfriend’s car drive by. Of all the McDonalds in Detroit she had to pick the one I chose to take my date.
The glare she gave me stopped me cold as she slowly rolled by. It felt like time was moving through a thick gel. I froze and braced myself for the inevitable gun fire that was going to come screaming through the large widow I sat in front of. Instead it was a cold emotionless stare that only made it feel like I had been riddled with .30 caliber bullets.
I was a junior in high school and after I was spotted in the McDonalds, my relationship with my girlfriend was over. This was my third strike and if she had the power to put me in jail for life or kill me she would have closed my cell door or pushed the toxic liquid through my veins herself.
The next several months I spent begging and pleading to her delight–with no success at the expense of any humility I had. Looking back on that time of dating in my teen-age years, it seemed like I spent a lot of time begging. In all honesty, this relationship and many others were the mirror images of Romeo and Juliet. Our paths were not crossed in the heavens.
My craving for attention to combat my feelings of rejection manifested in some horrible relationship choices. Often I chased the next woman who smiled in my direction and our compatibility never crossed my mind. If she was interested in me, I inhaled the attention she was giving.
My mother I’m sure was convinced I was unbalanced during those acne-filled years. When I broke up with a girl it was as if the world stopped spinning. The extent to which I mourned the loss of those relationships was four stories above over the top. The rejection I felt from the failure of a teenage relationship just multiplied my need for attention. Trying to cling to a broken relationship after it was burned to ash was what I did. The great need to be accepted and not rejected kept me trying over and over to revive relationships that passed the morgue long ago.
One of the great luxuries of writing this blog is the ability to reflect back on the things I did long ago and try to decipher why I did the things I did. It amazes me just how much the decisions I made and my reactions to things were so deeply rooted in being adopted.
One other remnant of being adopted is the feeling of unworthiness that I can’t shake. This presents itself over and over in relationships as well. My wife can attest to the fact that I tried over and over to dissemble our relationship. Once I found a great thing, I did what I could to cause it to implode. Fortunately, my wife calmly held on and wouldn’t let go.
The residuals that come with adoption are often ignored or dismissed. In talking to birth parents and adoptees we all suffer from that split much more than we are told we should and relationships after relationship are often sacrificed as we wade through the waters of mistrust, self-destruction, and rejection.
If you then mix in transracial adoption another layer gets mixed in. The potential then exists that a TRA becomes so starved for attention from others that look like them that we cling to the first person of color who shows us any kind of attention. The need to be accepted, validated, and desired by someone with comparable melanin in their skin overrides everything in us that tells us this person should be our last choice.
I feel a collective panel of parents now screaming, “So what do we do to prevent this.”
My answer is simple.
It is the same advice that should have been given to the Captain of the Titanic. If there is a potential for something to be lurking underneath the surface, strain you eyes to watch for it. You become hyper-vigilant and you man the bow looking for the potential hazards that may come with relationships. While you’re standing on the bow you fed the child with words and actions that build them up in an attempt to counteract the blast that can be left in the wake of the separation between mother and child.
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