‘Is your mommy black and your daddy white?’ I struggled heavily with feeling as if I did not belong.’: Biracial adoptee honestly shares her journey, realities of adoption

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“My name is Damaris Bruce. I am 29 years old, biracial, and an adoptee. I was adopted when I was three days old by my parents, who are Caucasian. I grew up always knowing I was adopted. It was a very open and genuine continuous discussion in my household. When I was about 5 years old (give or take), I was playing in the sandbox with another little girl who was also biracial. She asked me if my mommy was black and my daddy was white because that’s how it was at her house.

My response? ‘We are all tan at my house!’ Poor girl was so confused, and I am sure she tells people this story to this day! Growing up, my sister and I were often the only people of color within our social circles between homeschool groups and church, so I struggled heavily with feeling as if I did not belong and still do.

Parents with their biracial adopted children
Courtesy of Damaris Bruce

My parents have an extensive background in social work, thus exposing them to the need for biracial children to be adopted. At that time, which was the 90s, biracial children were not being consistently accepted within the Caucasian or black communities. They were being placed in the foster care system, sitting there to wait for a family to adopt them. Therefore, my parents felt called to adopt children who were biracial because every child deserves a chance for a better life. For my adoption specifically, my parents/their profile were selected by my biological mom through a home for unwed mothers. My biological mom felt comfortable with me going to be with my parents due to my sister also being biracial, so I wouldn’t grow up in a single-race household. My parents stayed in touch with my biological family throughout the years, so biological my grandparents would send me and my siblings (I have a younger brother, so there are three of us total) birthday gifts and Christmas gifts every year. This allowed for a smooth transition IF I decided to get in touch with my biological mom when I was 18.

A mom sitting with her two adopted daughters
Courtesy of Damaris Bruce

At the age of 18, I made the decision to meet my biological mother. I remember that day like it was yesterday. The emotions involved in that meeting were those of grief, joy, sadness, excitement and so much more—lots of mixed emotions. I felt an instant connection but also felt a disconnect at the same time. Our relationship has been rocky, full of ups and downs, but I do know my biological mom loves me even if she doesn’t always do the best job at showing it. I am hopeful that our relationship will be fully restored one day, but even if not, I will always love my biological mom. I have a great relationship with her side of the family, especially my biological grandparents and youngest biological sister. I am thankful for the opportunity to have them in my life and continue that opportunity for the rest of my life.

An adoptee stands with a woman in glasses
Courtesy of Damaris Bruce

Through the years, the trauma from my adoption has slowly crept up until I could no longer suppress it. A lot of people don’t know this, but adoptees are four times more likely to commit suicide than those who are born to their family biologically. I was diagnosed with depression when I was 19 and recently got diagnosed with generalized anxiety and PTSD, mainly due to an abusive relationship I was able to get out of. I attempted suicide in January 2020. I cannot necessarily say all of why I did that, but I do know that my adoption and the trauma associated with it played a significant role.

An adoptee stands with her sister by a wreath
Courtesy of Damaris Bruce

Adoption is beautiful. It’s a picture of what redemption looks like, but it is also a tragedy. My biological mother essentially lost her first child, while my parents gained a child. I am beyond thankful that I am adopted, but I would be remiss if I did not point out the reality of it all. As an adoptee, I feel it is my duty to advocate and educate others on adoption, especially proper terminology. Oftentimes, people seemingly refer to adoption as ‘second-best,’ when it actually isn’t.

There are many different ways to build a family—biologically, through adoption and/or foster care, IVF, etc.—there is no right or wrong way to build a family. But what is wrong is to imply that adoption is second best because it is not. It is simply a ‘non-traditional’ way to build a family, and it should be normalized more. If I could give any advice to people considering adoption, it would be this—recognize and acknowledge that adoption is trauma and that your child will have to deal with it at some point. It may pop up at 5 years old, or it could pop up when they’re in their 20s, what’s most important is that you continue to love them through that and not take it personally. Children need to know their parents will love them no matter what, especially as they process trauma.

An adoptee with her family
Courtesy of Damaris Bruce

In conclusion, I am honored to share my adoption story. While it is still painful to speak about at times, if me sharing my story and heart surrounding adoption helps someone else work through their adoption, then it’s all worth it to me. Working through my trauma has helped me become the powerful, unstoppable, and confident woman I am today. I would not be where I am at if I had not been adopted. As my biological grandmother (we call her Noni) says, ‘God does not make mistakes.’ No matter what god you believe in, everything does happen for a reason. I am here for a reason, and I intend to make the most of it. I hope you do too.”

An adoptee with her parents by a wreath
Courtesy of Damaris Bruce

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Damaris Bruce. You can follow her journey on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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