It is hard to explain really. I don’t think I will ever really be able to articulate how much faith I have acquired ever since I left religion, God, Jesus, and church in general.
Leaving took time. This feeling, this discovery, this realization did not really happen over night. It happened over time.
Growing up in a cult-like environment, I thought I had to fit a certain mold. I had to pray a certain way and singing in church was never an option, it was an obligation. I felt somehow that if I didn’t pray in a particular manner, or say “amen” as much as my adoptive parents did, somehow, I was not filled with the Holy Spirit.
There are scenarios of us at the table praying before we eat a meal and feeling inadequate. Feeling insufficiently prepared to be part of a spiritual world that justified slavery with a black book.
NO. I would not say we were “conservative” but we were cult-ish. I was not the only one who thought this way but others came forward just two years ago saying that there was something very off about the way my family “did” religion. The way we “did” religion was indeed a culture within itself. You were either in, and fully filled with the Holy Spirit, or you were out and didn’t have the right amount of holy spirit.
Growing up as an adoptee, I was already pressured to pretend that my circumstances were the best choice at the time. After learning about my family, meeting my biological family and listening to their side of what happened to me, I am able to better understand why all the feelings I had as a young adoptee were seen as ungrateful. I hated adoption with a passion. Not only did I hate adoption, but I hated that I lived in a family with two white parents who never understood or really cared to understand the complexities of not matching them or how I felt.
Love was NOT enough in my adoption, nor is it in many adoptions.
Love is a verb, love means you get up and make sure your adoptee does not feel isolated, alienated, abused, hurt, made fun of due to the color of her skin. Love means you make sure that your adoptee has ALL the rights the biological children have. But that never happened. In the family I grew up in-the holy spirit didn’t seem to want me to be equal to the bio kids.
This is why the idea of God, Religion, and Jesus sound so absurd to me. Because in a cult-like environment, there is no such thing as equality. Religion in itself is a culture-we choose a religion, and we learn the culture of that religion-hence the word Cult. Religion creates a following. But families can also be a cult. The cult within a family does not always have to be religious. It does not always have to involve God. But it always involves a leader.
She was the leader of this lifestyle. I never felt like I could live up to what she wanted from me. My white card ran out every time I stepped out of my house. Every time I went to school, every time i wanted to hang out with friends, I was reminded over and over of how I really am not equal to them.
And the way our family was run is the perfect set up for a cult. We were isolated, removed, worshiped the leader, prayed, held strange ceremonies, did things that were all in all very questionable.
A person’s first idea of God is how they are treated by their parents.
My parents had the upper hand with me even when I was actually right. But the way they raised me, the adoptee, was different from the way they raised their blood. They may not see it because they can’t put themselves in the shoes of an adoptee, because they are not. But my observations from outside told me that they would die for them and not really for me.
When we had a home invasion, that I believe my A-mother orchestrated, I was held hostage for several hours, not knowing whether I would live or die. Towards the end of the horrifying ordeal (I will spare you the nasty details as they are triggering), we left my brother who was adopted from Haiti in his crib. He was in his teen years. He had special needs. Not able to see, talk, walk or really hear well, he could not defend himself. We left him alone in his crib while robbers shot around our house, at me, at my adoptive father. We left him as we “escaped” which was in itself super suspicious.
How do we get an image of God when the person who is probably closest to God is left behind?
As I looked into my paperwork and learned the gravity of my trafficking case, I realized that my real mother’s best interest was never in my adoptive parent’s mind. The urgency to have a little black kid trumped my mothers blessings to let me be raised by these people. So instead of waiting and making sure that all the I’s were dotted and the T’s were crossed, they fabricated documents in order to “take” me.
Yes, they will tell many different reasons as to why they did xyz but I don’t buy any of them. None of their reasons matter because in this case, the impact was stronger than any intent.
Intent Vs Impact could be the name of my entire story. You may have good intentions, but what you leave behind, the trail you leave for someone else to clean up is dangerous, suicidal, and just completely contrary to “God’s” plan. The only way things can really be rectified is if they reach out with honest apology and this has yet to happen.
For me honest apology is owning the trauma you caused. Not making excuses, but delivering a real apology that does not come with any reasons behind it. Because this trauma is long lasting.
Imagine waking up and finding out that your mother has been looking for you and she eventually died, while searching for her baby.
And then imagine waking up to people who thought the long name on the fake BC was funny, or the birth date and 3 year age difference was funny?
Also, imagine never being able to be like the children you were raised with because….adoption is the gift that supposedly keeps on giving…heartache, pain, confusion, depression, and super high therapy bills.
My APs have NEVER offered to help me with my therapy bills. Therapy that was needed BECAUSE OF what they chose to do.
Getting my adoptive father to help with the the green card was like pulling teeth without any form of sedative or numbing. He claimed he didn’t have money for this, or that, or he couldn’t help me on my I-130…and yet, my adoptive mother and her partner were off in another country living it up…..because there it is…adoption….or how my adoptive father put it. “At the time, you were not a priority”.
Our idea of God and religion, and togetherness comes from how we are treated by our parents. My APs having a very authoritarian parenting style led me to believe that God just punishes and does not listen. Or, that God makes up reasons for why something happens to someone. Both very problematic.
Currently I’m in the air and the faith that I have gathered from being away from church, god, jesus and religion has come from having little options. When you are in the air, what exactly are your options? You HAVE to have faith that the people who are flying you have been empowered and have learned the proper protocol to do their job.
Reconnecting with a couple adoptive siblings has given me faith in them and in people. I don’t know if I need faith from a church, god, religion, or Jesus. I just know that they have been empowered to be human and we need to have faith in the fact that they are able to connect at a level that no religion, god, or jesus can ever do.
People are more important than church. Understanding where they come from, how they are feeling, where they are in their lives is more important than sitting in a pew listening to someone tell me what to worship, how to worship and who to worship.
Ever since I left those institutions, I have actually became a person with more faith and a person who believes in we beings being empowered to be who we are supposed to be.