An adoptee’s reentry does not guarantee safe landing

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I was 39-years-old, staring at my father’s face for the first time in my life. To be precise, it was the second time, but I have no conscious recollection of the first. I saw him the day I was born, as he held me and said his goodbyes, but my infant eyes could not focus very well and I had not learned to process language, so I suspect he sounded like the adults in those Charlie Brown cartoons. Like all other infants, I relied on touch and smell to make sense of…

Dear concern-trolls, I see right through your deflection, projection, and gaslighting

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

Like many of us, I’ve been sucked into far too many internet arguments lately over vaccines, mask mandates, and whether pineapple belongs on pizza (it does, by the way!) The customary quips and talking points always make an appearance and very little shocks me at this point. However, during a recent exchange in the Facebook group for my neighborhood association, I was taken aback when one of my neighbors said, in response to my defense of mask mandates in schools, “you’ll be sorry one day for the damage you…

Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to take up space

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Except, I didn’t want to take up space. I wanted to shrink myself small enough to fit into the emerald tutu. I wanted each sinewy line of every muscle to poke through paper thin skin as I pirouetted and jetéd across the dance floor. I wanted to wear a size zero. No, a double zero. I wanted to disappear.

Those are the thought patterns that nearly destroyed me and they are the thought patterns I continue to battle, even though I am no longer an aspiring ballerina and…

I found and met my biological father in January of 2020, after searching my entire life. He died a few months later. It took me a while to convince myself I was not a weirdo for wanting to have his ashes put into jewelry, but when you are denied an entire lifetime with someone you’ve longed to know so deeply, you hold on to what you can.

And family preservation is a moral obligation

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Strap in for the Mother’s Day essay you didn’t see coming. Be prepared to get angry with me. It’s fine. I’m used to it. Just maybe sit with this for a while and read the sources, ok?

When I started seriously interrogating my identity as an adopted person, it led me to question adoption more generally. I began researching the ways adoptees are at greater risk for mental health issues, eating disorders, suicide, and even dermatological problems. I found a community of adoptees online who were shouting just to be heard: being adopted…

Reflections from an adoptee on the complex emotions in animal rescue work and adoption

Zany, photo by me

It’s the same thing each time I arrive at the shelter. My hand touches the cool metal gate on the chain-link fence and as soon as it clinks and clanks open then shut, I hear the cacophony of barking from behind the thick walls of the building as I approach. They know I am here.

The usual mix of anticipatory excitement, sadness, and relief rises in my stomach as I approach the back door of the shelter that leads straight to the kennels. …

Honoring myself during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Photo credit: me, with the last pair of pointe shoes I ever trained in before I gave up chasing impossible dreams.

Five pounds was the goal

To dance that part

To fit into that tutu

With the sparkling rhinestones

Five pounds was the stick

Ms. Martha used to slap my tummy

Telling me I looked pregnant

While I did rond de jambe en l’air

Five pounds was the fun I permitted myself

Eating the pizza and keeping it down

But with every smile I grew larger

Each laugh inched the scale upward

Five pounds became ten and then fifteen

It became pills and secrets

To cover the bruises on my stomach

Self-inflicted punishment…

A eulogy for the both of us

Photo by Richard Gale on Unsplash

All day, my stomach did somersaults. I couldn’t even go for a jog because my intestines would not allow it. A familiar, creeping, unnamed anxiety washed over me, and as usual, I tried to drown out its empty voice with wine later that night.

There is always a reason why our bodies protest our own existence like this.

I awoke the next morning with the news in an email from my uncle, the subject line reading, “Your Dad.” The body of the text, I hardly recall reading, except the first sentence, “Andy passed…

Being a child prodigy is not all fun and games. Neither is being an adoptee.

Photo by Alexis Fauvet on Unsplash

**Spoiler alerts for those who have not seen the series**

After watching the Netflix drama mini-series, The Queen’s Gambit, I was struck by so much. The set design, the makeup and costumes, the characters, and of course, the chess. As a woman, I was in awe of the lead character, Beth Harmon, played by Anya Taylor-Joy. As much as I love chess, I was never trained to play as a child, partly because my family just didn’t play chess, but also, girls are far less…

It’s not a mid-life crisis. I’m just turning 40 and talking to plush toys.

All my friends, today. Photo by me.

Significant milestones tend to dredge up memories and emotions. Although turning 40 is not as momentous as some of the other events humans celebrate, it has always been a much anticipated day for me. As a young child, when I watched my parents mark four decades of life, I imagined myself “going over the hill,” a phrase that makes 40 seem like the fast track to decrepitude. I assumed by then I would have several kids who would all be teenagers at that point, that I…

Michele Merritt

Philosophy professor. Adoptee. Advocate. Activist. Marathon swimmer. Cheese consumer. I write about dogs a lot.

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