I’m so excited about this new series, ‘I’m adopted’ where we plan to feature adult adoptees and hear about their experiences of adoption. Today we hear from Trish Taylor first hand about what adoption means to her. Thank you for sharing your story, Trish.
What is your definition of adoption?
Being accepted (embraced, loved, cherished, disciplined) into a family or environment different to your original place of birth/setting.
How do you feel about adoption in general?
I wish more people would adopt and stop having such negative ideas about raising kids that aren’t biologically theirs. I just think of the many little lives out there that could be changed by the acceptance and love of a family – like mine was – and it breaks my heart. I also hate how the government rates black kids should be raised in black homes cause they need their culture, you’re not born with culture, you’re born into a culture, and so much for the rainbow nation if that’s what you require of the black kids or any of the kids.
Tell us a bit about your family
I have a mom, Penny Taylor, and a dad, John Taylor – who have two biological daughters Lori Sjoureman and Stacey Taylor-Broderick. They are both married with kids. So I have five adorable nephews, who I love with my whole heart!!! And then I have another adopted sister, Ruth Taylor, who’s younger than I am and isn’t biological to me.
How do you feel about your parents?
They are my heroes, not only because they adopted me, but they’ve shown me unconditional love. My only hope is that I can be as generous with my love and life as they have been with me, my sisters and everyone else they help and accept and give generously to.
How do you feel about your biological parents?
I don’t often think of my birth parents, especially my father. I always picture him as M.I.A and my birth mother as a desperate lady who needed help with a baby she couldn’t take care of. I sometimes think of my mother and what she looked like and must have been like, but I chose not to indulge in those thoughts, but rather the things that are present in my life now.
At what age, if ever, did you want to find your biological parents?
My whole childhood I never ever wanted to find out about my biological parents, but only once when I was 19, did I consider it. But I thought of all the negatives of it all and realised that its something I don’t need or want in my life and that this is the family I’ve been given.
How were you told that you were adopted?
I was continually told I was adopted from a very young age, my parents told me in a very fairy-like sort of way, that I’m special and hand-picked by God to be placed into the Taylor family. The older I got the more I asked for my story to be told to me as a bed-time story because I loved it so much. One of my favourite little stories was when dealing with the skin colour issue, my folks would say that God left me in the oven a little longer than them, cause He wanted to make sure I was perfect!
Has race been an issue?
It’s never been an issue that I’m a different colour to my family. When I was younger I use to wish I’d become white, but it wasn’t a major thing in my life – I knew I was loved and that was all I needed. The only time it’s an issue is when other members of my race say I need to speak Zulu because of my skin colour, but other than their opinions – it hasn’t been an issue and I love that I’m chocolate-colour!
What has been the hardest part of adoption for you?
Knowing that I could have other siblings out there is sometimes quite a thing for me to wrap my head around, because I just want them, whoever they are, to be safe and looked after. But I don’t really allow myself to think about them, because it’s out of my hands and this is my life and I need to concentrate on the people in it, not the maybes out there.
Is there anything in particular your parents did really well? Anything they could have done differently?
They treated me and my other adopted sister exactly as their biological daughters, therefore not creating any differentiation between the two. They were open about all parts of our adoption process. They loved us, but also disciplined us. They demonstrated everything they expected of us.
How can adoptive parents best equip their children to deal with the hard parts of being adopted cross culturally?
By being open and speaking about it, it becomes the norm that your family is one way and others aren’t – so when tough times come, because it’s the norm to them, hard parts aren’t too bad – it’s hard to argue or speak against something that you see as normal. But I also think love and continually speaking life over your kids and speaking positively to your kids gives them confidence for when the tough times come.
Tell us about your relationship with your siblings?
My older sisters are much older so they were like little moms to me and would often take care of me, but now that I’ve grown up they are more like big sisters that I can go to with anything and chat with. As a family we all very close, so I do see them often and have a close relationship with them.
Are you treated differently by people of your birth culture when they discover that you are adopted by parents of another race?
Often I’m faced with the “Why don’t you speak Zulu?” question, but the response is often one of two things: either, once I’ve told them I don’t speak Zulu cause I’m adopted they are stunned and apologetic about asking me or they still think that I should know my language and continue to go on, to which I walk away.
Was/is “belonging” and feeling like you belonged ever an issue?
No, not for me, I’ve always been loved by my family and friends – so belonging has never been an issue.
What would you say to other kids who have been adopted?
I’d tell them that being adopted is a very special thing because most people are born into their families, but we are chosen to be in a family, they wanted us!
What to say to your adopted child?
Constantly tell them they loved and chosen, and that it’s the best choice you’ve ever made! But otherwise, treat them like you would your own children because they are.
What not to say to your adopted child?
Not that my parents ever said any of this, but threatening to call Child Welfare or give them back if they’re naughty, leaves constant fear. Don’t tell them they are lucky they were adopted, it’s not something to hold over their head.
Would you ever consider adoption in your future?
YES! I’m definitely adopting, just hoping I marry someone with a similar heartbeat to mine or else I’m doing it alone! I’d recommend cross cultural adoption – I love seeing families that don’t fit the ‘mould’.