So much about adoption is complicated for the adoptee. If you are like me, you may feel torn between who you think you are, who you are inside, versus how you were raised and who raised you.
I am an adoptee as readers know. What a great many adoptees have told me is they feel they lost culture when not raised in their tribe, losing parents, grandparents and the language. Even typing those words hurts. Loss is loss. Loss hurts.
This has bothered me. I think that the loss is true yet culture is not completely lost.
How? You still have the blood and that is built-in culture. (It's not erasable or removable.)
I think Native Adoptees have a different thought process that was not acknowledged or celebrated or honored when they were young. Non-Indian parents may not have appreciated how sensitive or funny or curious you were or if they did see it, they didn't say anything nice about it.
Girls who were strong tomboys like me were criticized and shy boys who were sensitive were bullied.
One thing to remember: non-Indians don't think Indian. You do. It's not their fault. We're very different in how we think.
Sit back and remember all the times as a child you made people laugh. Remember how much you loved animals. Remember what made you cry - like a sunset or sunrise. Remember how you gave thanks for life and all that is sacred, even if you were alone. Remember watching westerns on TV and rooting for the Indians?
We have a choice as an adoptee to return home and what I call "go full circle." It takes patience. It requires courage. It costs money. It demands you take time to learn and relearn and listen. This return to your culture may take years! (We still have the burden of closed adoption records in many states.)
Every culture will say it's people who carry the culture.
There is no culture better than another. That is true. But the culture of Indigenous People lives in your breath, bone and blood. If you exist, it exists.
Nothing, including adoption, can ever erase it.
Trace is the author of One Small Sacrifice, the book series Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects and the creator of the blog American Indian Adoptees.