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On December 12, 2005, my young birth mother and her family decided that it would be best to give me up for adoption. Without a second thought, my amazing and courageous adoptive mother and father graciously accepted me with open arms. The two traveled through the ice-cold Pennsylvania mountains to Guthrie Robert Packer Memorial Hospital in Sayre, Pennsylvania (138.07 miles).

I was raised knowing I was adopted, but I didn’t understand what it really meant. As time passed, I grew more aware of the meaning of adoption, and I became afraid to tell other kids because I kept this secret for so long. Although being adopted is nothing to be ashamed of, I thought it would make me different than the other kids, and I was hesitant to reveal this part of me with anyone. I was afraid of being judged and being an outcast.

Eventually, I developed anxiety from keeping this secret bottled up inside of me. The fear I was feeling turned into Trichotillomania, an anxiety disorder.

At this point, my parents started noticing that something was wrong. They took me to therapy, which didn’t help because I wasn’t ready to explain to the therapist what I was feeling.

I decided it would be better to talk to my adoptive parents about how I felt, and possibly they would be able to understand since they’ve been there for me my whole life. I told them how I thought being adopted would confuse other kids, and I was nervous about their reaction. I believed they would think I was different. My parents reassured me that being adopted does not make me weird and that it doesn’t make me different in any way.

I took these words to heart and decided it was finally time to let go of my insecurity. The first person I told was my best friend at the time, Claire, and her mother, Nancy. They didn’t mind at all when I told them my secret, which is when I realized how silly I had been.

After that, I became more open sharing this part of my life and developed an interest in finding out more about my past. I researched my birth mother and found out so much that I wasn’t aware of. For example, I discovered what city I am from and what my birth parents look like. I realized how much I had been missing by letting others’ opinions affect me. After coming to terms with my life-long secret, my Trichotillomania subsided, and I felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.

Recently, I have realized that being adopted does not label me. My parents are mine no matter what, and what people say should not affect me. My advice is to discard what others think about you. Life is too short to harm yourself and your mental health based upon the opinion of others. You are unique for a reason.

© Katherine Armstrong. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team and we can put you in touch with the author’s teacher.

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