by Sara Mascardo
In my entire life, I have never been asked what I, an adoptee of color, needed to feel supported. Then I discovered Pact, an amazing community of other adopted people, and a community that supports my journey in a way I have not experienced before. Upon reflection, here are five things I need:
1. Openness—not only with my adoption files, but with respect to all the possibilities of how I would like to go about my adoption journey (i.e., wanting to reconnect with my biological family or not).
2. Respect for my journey and my biological family: Do not shame my bio mother about the choices she had to make.
3. Know thy self. By this I mean you should really take the time to get to know the core reason why you chose to adopt.
4. Unconditional love.
5. Resources to help me through my adoption journey, whether it’s finding other adoptees for me to spend time with, hiring a therapist and other adoption specialists, providing books about adoption, and connecting me through events/gatherings with others who share my journey.
From a very young age, I was conditioned to simply forget my past and was forced—through shame, secrecy, and loyalty—to appreciate the life I have now. For the longest time, I played the role of being the “good” daughter my adoptive parents always dreamed of, but little did they know what that meant for me.
They had no clue that there were numerous nights I cried in my room, yearning for my biological mother and siblings. Trying to live up to my adoptive parent’s expectations left me feeling lonely, angry, and disconnected from them and, most importantly, from myself. I learned to dissociate from myself and continue to wear the good-daughter costume because part of me was afraid to be abandoned again.
My adoptive parents chose to do a closed adoption and when speaking to them about wanting to search for my biological family, I’ve received much resistance and bitterness from my adoptive mother. During discussions, my mother has said some hurtful things to me that have brought me back to my trigger of not feeling enough, not feeling worthy. I know that my mother said these hurtful things because she, too, is hurting inside. I understand that all her life she’s dreamed of having a big family, similar to the one she grew up in, but was not able to make this into reality. I understand this has caused her pain more than she’d like to admit to me, and while this unresolved pain has brought her to (unconsciously) place high expectations on me, I simply can’t achieve them.
All my life, I’ve felt as if I’m the only one in my family who is constantly trying to understand them just so I can come to a place of comfort and ease. While I understand where they’re coming from, I have neither allowed myself—nor do I feel like my adoptive parents have taken the time—to understand me. Instead, it feels like my family dictates a role I should play for them, creating a deep sense of isolation.
During moments of loneliness, I craved my adoptive parents. I wanted them to see me for who I really am, and to stay open to the possibilities and decisions I wanted to make in regards to my adoption journey. Instead, I found refuge in doing my own research for adoption books, documentaries, support groups, adoption events, and the like. Even then, I felt uneasy and disloyal, and would therefore engage in this process from the safety of my room.
In many ways, Pact saved me from my loneliness, isolation, and negative self-talk. I am filled with so much shame and sense of not feeling good enough from my past history and experiences that I’m just now slowly unraveling. I’m learning to provide myself with loving-kindness towards the little Sarah that lives inside of me, who in my eyes is a warrior. I couldn’t thank Pact enough for coming into my life and emulating a family member that has empowered me to be proud of the journey I’ve embarked on, and most importantly, to be an adoptee.
Sara Mascardo is an adult adoptee born in the Philippines and raised by same-race adoptive parents. She currently works as a Residential Counselor for foster youth and has served as a counselor at Pact Family Camp and Pact Youth Clubs. Sara aspires to provide a wellness service to youth and teen adoptees, and LGBTQ+ youth that promotes self-love, awareness, loving-kindness, and mindfulness as a way to help with the healing process of early childhood traumas.