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Priscilla Du Preez

5 Lessons I’ve Learned About Being Adopted

From my past to present, my adoption has made me who I am

I have been open about my life in many ways: how much I love Taylor Swift, my obsession with Dr. Pepper, and my dog’s 10/10 cuteness. It’s easy for me to talk about superficial things (which I’m sure many people can relate to), but one thing that I don’t talk about is my adoption, because of the not-so-nice memories. However, with therapy and learning more about myself, my mindset and perspective have changed. November is National Adoption Month and with that, I want to discuss five lessons I’ve learned from my adoption. 

1. How to talk about my past

I was adopted from St. Petersburg, Russia when I was four years old, and for 12-ish years after, I refused to talk about it. I would talk about basic facts (the awful food, scary swings, and the loud dogs), but then I would shut down. I never wanted to elaborate on it because, in my mind, there was nothing really more to discuss. Now, I am more open about talking more about the factual aspect, and I want people to know what I’ve been through because it makes up who I am. 

2. Accepting my past

Before I was able to open up about Russia, I had to accept where I came from. I couldn’t live in denial and pretend that I wasn’t adopted. It was a lot of processing and thinking, “I didn’t like how my life started, but it happened and I’m in a better place now.” It was probably the hardest lesson I learned because it was a lot of reliving some of my scariest moments in life.

3. Who I am

Sounds cliche, but it’s true. Your formative years play a significant role in your development, personality/temperament, the way you feel, think, behave and so on. Once I began accepting my Russian past, I was able to learn that while it happened for only four years, those four years shaped who I am. I understand my attachment style, how I feel deeply, my quick-tempered personality and the way I cope with difficult situations. At first, I thought these were all excuses, but thanks to my therapist, it explains my behaviors, feelings and why I do what I do.

4. It’s okay to be angry

I was an angry child. Even today, I still am angry. Questions surrounded me about Russia: why was I abandoned and left in an orphanage? Why did a caregiver whom I trusted the most, hurt me? Why were we forced on swings? Why did we always watch Teletubbies? As a child, I expressed my anger, hurt and confusion in temper tantrums and through denial and silence. I never wanted to admit that Russia made me mad. “It’s in the past, it doesn’t matter, I have no feelings about it”, is what I always said. Now, I’m learning that it’s okay to have feelings of anger and hurt, and it’s not okay to stuff it all down.

5. My family involvement 

One of the first things I’ve learned about my adoption is how my sister demanded my parents for not just a sibling, but for a little sister. My parents have always thought about adoption and Russia became the destination for them. They went to Russia and initially met me. They had to fly back to the U.S. and then came back to Russia to finalize the adoption. I’m not doing justice to what my parents went through. As my mom always says, “It was a labor of love”. With my sister’s bossiness and my parents’ dedication, I was adopted! 

Anna and Cam
Original photo by Anna Alvarez

Overall, I’ve learned so much about myself and the world from my adoption. I’m still re-learning these five lessons, but even writing this article has shown how much I’ve grown. Although the past wasn’t too fun, I’m so glad that it happened and I’m here to tell my story!

Natalia Iding

Wisconsin '23

I'm a Sophomore at the Univerity of Wisconsin-Madison and planning to double major in Human Development and Family Studies and Gender Woman's Studies. In my free time, I like to watch Netflix, play sports, and hang out with my family!
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