On Being Wanted and Worthy

According to the Office on Women's Health, one in two pregnancies in America are unplanned. The adoptee brain often translates the word "unplanned" into its cultural predecessor, "unwanted." From there, it is a short hop to "unworthy" -- of love, happiness, success, relationships, self-esteem -- the good stuff in life.

This can be further complicated by the realization that when adoptive parents said, "We wanted you," it usually meant "we wanted a baby and you were available, so you were what they gave us." The specter of the chosen baby rapidly vanishes upon the adult realization that nowhere was there ever a baby super market visited by loving couples with shopping carts, exclaiming "This is the one!" It is a humbling thing to awaken to the fact that puppies and kittens are, by and large, more "chosen" than those of us who were adopted as infants. Awareness that "brokered" or "assigned" may be more accurate descriptors of the transaction is the kind of thing that can leave adoptees feeling like commodities and questioning our lovability and value as humans. Being chosen is one thing that those who met their adoptive parents prior to being adopted from foster care can claim over those who were adopted as infants.

At a recent ASRC meeting, I confessed, to a burst of laughter, that I'm having a bit of an obsession with YouTube videos of blind auditions from the television show The Voice. What bizarre satisfaction lies in watching nervous singers stand up on a stage, hoping that judges who begin with their backs turned will spin around and beg them to join their team, from which all but one will eventually be culled? Who would want to put themselves through that kind of process? I don't get the same charge out of watching later episodes from each season. It's only the blind auditions. But then it hit me. As each judge hits the big red button and their chair turns, the illuminated words on the rotating base proclaim, "I WANT YOU." The phrase sends my brain's synapses to a happy place that I want to experience over and over. Can we as humans, and especially relinquished and adopted people, ever receive enough of that message?

Author Ayn Rand offered a very different take on want and worth in Atlas Shrugged:

"Most people feel that they rise in their own eyes if others want them. I feel that others live up to me, if they want me..."