Two Adoptees and Me

I’m not a part of the adoption triad but adoption has deeply impacted my life. This is important and I want to show you how it affects more than three people. This is my story.


I realize not many people can say this but I remember certain moments of the first day I met my big sister. I was nearly four years old when my family and I took a trip to visit her. We had to meet up at the same adoption agency my mama placed her through but then decided to go to the local naval base to watch the Blue Angels perform. The wait before reaching her in the crowd felt endless, especially to a small child. I can remember the feeling of impatience even now. I don’t think I understood then what Abigail was to me but that changed immensely as I grew older. To this day, anytime I hear the roar of a jet I think of that visit; me in my big sister’s arms as we stared up in awe of the noisy jets doing aerial tricks overhead.


Abigail was placed for adoption by my mama six years before I was born. Mama gave birth to her when she was around fifteen, the same age I am now. Sometimes that thought scares me, I certainly can’t comprehend how scared my mama must have been and I will never know what it was like for her to carry a child so young, knowing she couldn’t parent her. Something I do understand though is the loss and pain of my big sister’s absence in our home.


The same year I met Abigail for the first time, my family had just welcomed my mama’s baby sister. Nichole was just two weeks old, her birth father was my grandfather and Mama’s dad but now it’s truly difficult to remember a time when she wasn’t my little sister. Admittedly there was some confusion when I was a little girl, like all of the times a stranger would stop my parents in the store to compliment them for having such adorable daughters and innocent three-year old me would point at Nichole and state, “but she’s my aunt!” What I would give to know what ran through their minds, to know the confusion they felt when some silly little girl thought her baby sister was her aunt, but for the first bit of my life with Nichole, that is what she was supposed to be. Sisterhood came naturally though, once she learned to argue that was all we did, and truthfully do now, to the expense of our mama’s sanity…sorry Mama but it’s what sisters do.


The day we adopted Nichole was quite the experience. I felt nervous in the huge courtroom and antsy too. It was a lot of waiting for a seven year old girl being asked to sit still and be quiet but I listened to my parents when I was told to be patient. Nichole on the other hand was like a gallon of energy in a half pint package but she always has been. As soon as we got to the judge’s office to sign papers she was all over the place. On a big wooden desk there was a corded phone shaped like Pluto the dog from Mickey Mouse and a bowl of lollipops, something Nichole just happened to be obsessed with. The moment we sat down she had a dum dum in her mouth and was pretending to talk to an imaginary boyfriend on the Pluto phone saying, “shhh, I can’t heaw my boyfwiend tawking!” I know that’s misspelled but she couldn’t pronounce her Rs or Ls. You should also know that she had the most adorable squeaky little voice. I’m kind of sad she outgrew it. I can also remember the Judge asking her what restaurant she liked most. She answered, to no one’s surprise, Taco Bell! Her obsession with that place has never faltered. The Judge told her once we left we had to take her to Taco Bell to celebrate and so we did.


This year will be twelve years since we met Abigail and eight since we adopted Nichole. When summer rolls around I am always filled with an overwhelming gratitude because it was one month in summer when Nichole started staying with us and just a few months later when we drove to the beach to meet my big sister. My mama has taught me that it’s okay to acknowledge that adoption can bring both gratitude and grief and there is plenty of both.


The space I hold in my extended family has felt complicated at times. My grandfather died years ago and I have no real memories of him. While my little sister (biological aunt) was going to the playground behind the neighborhood church with him, he had less interest in me so I spent those hours with my great grandma and grandpa instead. Kinship care changes families, something that can be good but hard.

When my great-grandma lost her son, it was understandably really hard on her but after he died I noticed a change in the attention I got from her as well. Sometimes it feels like she gravitates toward Nichole, probably because her personality is just like her birth dad’s so when she misses him, in a sense, Nichole brings him back to her. Understandable but painful nonetheless.


It isn’t just kinship care that sometimes makes me feel out of place, as the biological child my feelings have sometimes been overlooked or discredited too. Once I had grown close to a girl, she was one of my best friends so I knew she was going through a hard time and feeling a lot of grief for the people she had lost. One day I was trying to comfort her and mentioned that I understood her feelings of pain through the loss of my big sister. Several long moments passed after I sent the text before she responded saying, “yeah well, I’ve lost more…” I reminded myself that she was in pain and hurting, I didn’t believe she truly meant to hurt me so I responded with an apology and reassurance that I was there for her. I tried not to let her words penetrate me but they felt like salt poured into an open wound, a wound left open by my own intrusive thoughts. If she thinks this, then what about my family? Do they believe the same thing? My friend had just solidified a worry that had always lingered in my mind; my trauma could never measure in importance compared to what others have endured.


My story doesn’t end there, it doesn’t end here either. I still have a lot of living and learning to do but here’s what I’ve learned so far. You matter. I matter too. Both the grief and gratitude that you feel is valid and important. I’ve grown up in a family that has endured challenging childhoods, lost parents, had to live with abusive or neglectful caregivers, and gone through some really scary things that I’m not even fully aware of yet. My childhood, on the other hand, is a stark difference. I have been raised by two cycle breaking parents that have given me a safe and blessed childhood. I have never been without necessities and I have never been exposed to many of the hardships my parents and the generations before them have been exposed to. Yet, I have trudged through depression…some days I still am. I lost my big sister before I was even born. I am troubled by the history of my family and have felt like the odd one out. I’ve gained and lost many friends through my life of travel, and am navigating the labyrinth of my teenage years. All of my problems have made me feel like a burden on my family. I fear every tear I shed feels like an annoyance to my loved ones, not because of things they have done to make me feel that way, but because of my own self consciousness. The emotions that lie to me every day.


You are too burdensome.

You have no right to feel sadness.

Why should your depression matter when you have practically nothing as an excuse for it?

You have to suck it up for your family.

You have to act like a happy, shiny person all the time.


I stand for the people convincing themselves of these falsehoods, the people who are feeling the second hand trauma from their family’s past, the people who believe that they can’t grieve along with the rest of those feeling pain. No matter what you have done or what has been done to you, your experiences matter, it deserves to be addressed and worked through just as much as anyone else’s.


You are not a burden.

Your sadness is as valid and real as anyone’s.

Your emotions and depression matter and they deserve to be overcome at whatever pace you take.

You should never be expected to “suck it up,” feel your feelings, and gently pick yourself back up.

You are STRONG.

No one is always happy and no one is ever perfect.

Be who you are and accept your flaws as well as all things beautiful about you.


We all have a place here. Every sibling, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, and friend who has felt the loss of a child through adoption matters. It takes more than the birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptee to create a story. Together we create a messy, imperfect, and beautiful constellation. I’ll leave you with this statement:

My name is Taylan McCloud, I am the daughter of a mother and father who have been through much, the sister of two adoptees, one into this family, and the other out, who have lost many loved ones. I feel happiness, and gratitude, but also grief and sadness. Because that’s what adoption is. It is both beautiful and imperfect like all of us. I accept all parts of myself, because all parts of me matter and I just want to encourage you to do the same.

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