I had a charmed childhood.
My mom was a stay at home mom from the time she found out she was pregnant with me. My dad had his own business so he was around a lot. His business really started being successful when I was about 6 years old and as a reward for his hard work, every second year as a Christmas present, he would take us overseas, which means that I have traveled more than most adults my age have and I did all of that traveling before I was 18 years old. I attended a very good school, my parents encouraged our participation in extra mural activities so I’ve been exposed to a lot. Music lessons, dancing, horse riding, you name it, I’ve probably tried it at some point.
Afternoon’s after school were spent down at Muizenberg beach with my dad teaching us how to surf. Saturday and Sunday mornings were spent on my very expensive bicycle riding around the Cape Peninsula with my dad. If we weren’t on the beach, we were playing with our friends in the forest down the road from where we lived. Or we were down at Zeekoi Vlei learning to wind surf. Or we were in Langebaan enjoying my dad’s boat and learning to ski or going fishing.
We grew up in a beautiful and large family home, surrounded by pets and friends because our house was always the house of choice for my friends to hang out in. I remember in my matric year having about 30 of my final year friends have a sleep over, in my parents garage as part of our 40 day celebrations.
I got a new car for my 18th birthday.
When I completed school, my parents forked out a truck load of money for me to study further at a private and very exclusive college, where I got to live on campus, all paid for by my parents.
Both my brother and I were loved and wanted. We were both raised feeling loved and wanted, cherished and cared for. Belonging. We were showered with love and affection from special time spent with both our parents.
Sounds idyllic doesn’t it? It was idyllic. It was, if I imagine the perfect childhood, perfection.
Like every other human being walking the planet, I too am a product of my upbringing and this plainly means that I too, am damaged. I’ve been thinking a lot about this after reading blog postings that have followed on from my post yesterday.
I battle with abandonment issues after a traumatic experience as a child when starting school, this has had a profound impact on my relationships as an adult. During the difficult years as a teenager and having lots of arguments with my parents, I still struggle with the balance between being selfish and selfless. Walter always tells me I’m the most unselfish person he knows and yet I often think that if I consider myself and my needs then I’m being selfish. A message which has been reiterated to me in a number of friendships and relationships as an adult. Logically I know I’m not selfish, logically I know it’s important for me to consider myself and my needs and that there is a time and a place for giving of one’s self and a time and a place to think of one’s self. But on a subconscious level I often feel guilty and berate myself for seeing to my needs too.
I battle with GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) and my brother battles addiction, depression and GAD. Both of these have been genetically past down to us, a long line of anxiety disorder, depression & addiction on my dad’s side of the family. We’re the 4th generation to struggle with such issues.
So in spite of having the most perfect start in life, I too am a product of my upbringing, I too and a result of my experiences in life, both positive and negative.
It is for this reason that I wish people would let go of their ignorance and not buy into some of the stigma’s and generalizations that are made of situations and circumstances that can’t be understood unless you’ve been there. The stigma’s that go with addiction. The generalizations surrounding adoption.
I want my daughter to have as an idyllic upbringing as I had. I want her to have very many happy memories of her childhood when she looks back on her life as an adult. If she chooses to meet her birth mother one day, I hope that she will have lots of fond memories of her childhood and that she will tell her birth mother that she was loved, deeply and unconditionally loved and that she had a generally happy childhood.
I don’t want her to live under the stigma’s and generalizations that society at large is happy to accept about adoption and adopted children. I don’t want her growing up believing that she is more prone to certain behaviors just because society buys into those generalizations and stigma’s.
Of course, she too, like all of us, both adopted and biological, has genetic links that may be good or bad, she too may experience a trauma that could trigger a genetic issue such a depression, addiction or any of the other genetic predispositions that get past down from one generation to another.
I suppose, in a long winded way what I’m trying to say is this:
I don’t believe that being adopted means that a child starts life on the wrong foot. I don’t believe being a biological child means one starts life on the right foot.
I believe that all of us carry genetic links that will predispose us to certain behavious and or illness (nature) and our experiences (nurture) as we mature will play a part in how we view the world and how we interact with the world.
No one can tell whether nature or nurture or experience will trigger specific behaviors, this is true for both biological and adopted children so I wish that society at large would let go of so many of the generalizations and stigma’s that are attached to adoption.