30 Mar I am Enough from Amie Adams
It’s hard to know where to begin.
I’ve been writing this in my head for weeks and still I don’t know how to give you the background to understand the importance of eight words I heard ten years ago.
I was given up for adoption at birth and adopted by the most incredible woman and her less than incredible husband. It was 1970 and my mom had been trying to have a baby for years. She had suffered through many miscarriages and the death of a baby girl who died a day after delivery. To say my arrival was highly anticipated is to understate it.
I was the first grandchild, the first niece, the first child.
My family wanted so much for me. It was the age of ERA and my aunt—a teacher and my mom’s only sister—was determined I wouldn’t feel hemmed in by gender expectations. I was given dump trucks for birthdays and race cars for Christmas. My dad wouldn’t let me be a cheerleader. “Don’t cheer for anyone doing something you can do yourself.” My mom and aunt told me all the time I would be the first female President, the first female astronaut.
You’d think a kid with all of that positive reinforcement would be filled with self-confidence.
But I wasn’t.
I always felt like an outsider. I never felt like I measured up. I was smart enough and athletic enough and competent enough at things, but I was never the best—and I felt like I had to be the best to be worthy.
Worthy of what I’m not sure. Looking back, I’d have to say love.
Was it being adopted? Was it the less than incredible dad who was a very attentive father until one day he wasn’t? I was just 12 when he moved away and didn’t tell me. Was it my sister with extreme behavior problems that required a lot of attention? It could have been any of those things—or none of them.
Ten years ago today, my aunt was diagnosed with cancer. She was 20 when I was born and never had children of her own. She was a second mother to me. I spent time at her house every year. She and my uncle visited me at college every year. I vacationed with them in my 20’s. She and I got our tattoos together, and she was with me and my mom when I picked out my wedding dress. Within a week of her diagnosis, we knew the cancer was terminal.
I know it was ten years ago today, because it was my 30th birthday. I had been married nine months, I had started a new job two weeks before and I had gotten a three year–old a week prior. The next six weeks were a blur. I spent as much time with my aunt as I could flying back and forth from DC to Boston. We talked about so much. We tried to say everything we weren’t going to be able to say in the next forty years we thought we had.
During my last visit with her I apologized for not being the first woman in space. I told her that I always felt like I let her and my mom down because I probably wasn’t going to be the first woman president either—or become any other great success like that.
I still remember the conversation so clearly.
I was sitting on the floor by her feet looking up at her. She grabbed my shoulders and looked me straight in the eye and said, “Are you kidding me? I don’t care about any of those things. Didn’t you realize it all this time…all you had to do was be born?”
Those eight words were such a gift.
I had spent my life beating myself up for not being enough and it turned out I already was.
About Amie Adams
Amie Adams is a political involvement consultant, photographer, writer, volunteer, wannabe crafter—and excited to discover what she will be when she grows up. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and three baseball-playing boys. She is the first to admit she drinks too much Diet Coke and lets her roots go a little longer than they should, but hopes you will follow her adventures anyway on her blog Mamma Loves.
UpsideUpPosted at 03:28h, 31 March
Oh my gosh Amie. That just took my breath away. Thank you for this gift of an essay.
LauriePosted at 03:33h, 31 March
I think so many kids never hear that and it’s what’s really, really true. We who have been so loved are lucky indeed.
Thien-KimPosted at 04:04h, 31 March
What an amazing story. There are tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing your story Amie. I’m honored to know you.
Sue @ Laundry for SixPosted at 04:11h, 31 March
Wow. Just wow. Blown away by this.
aileenPosted at 04:30h, 31 March
great honest post amie. also adopted, i have had a similar hard time with those feelings. my existence wasn’t compelling enough to keep me. i didn’t stand out. i was not kept. i was given away. i was not enough. and then i have spent a lifetime trying to be enough, trying to be the best, and trying to stand out. trying to be worthy of being kept. peace to you. and happy birthday.
Amie aka MammaLovesPosted at 05:20h, 31 March
Aileen, you have no idea how much it means to me that you shared your experience here too. There is solace in knowing I am not alone. You ARE worthy. xoxo
janePosted at 06:29h, 31 March
big tears, big feelings – i honour you and your courage to write this, your courage to tell this story and the courage it took to tell your aunt you were sorry … and the love it took to say those 8 beautiful words
melodyPosted at 07:46h, 31 March
heartfelt thanks for sharing your heart
AlexPosted at 10:47h, 31 March
I’m going to share this with a friend who needs it. WOW. And, your aunt was an exceptional person. No, you didn’t need to do or achieve anything in this life for her, but still, she’d be awed by the woman you’ve become.
Madly MadlyPosted at 12:15h, 31 March
What a gift she gave you in those 8 words. Were we all able to express such love to one another, the world would be a much warmer place.
Erin WilsonPosted at 13:44h, 31 March
I hope somehow your Aunt knows what a huge gift she just gave to the wider world…
Deb on the RocksPosted at 14:16h, 31 March
Sending this to three people I know who need to read it. Thank you, Lovely. And Happy Birthday.
JeanPosted at 15:52h, 31 March
What a beautiful story. I’m so sorry you lost your aunt, but I feel lucky for you that you had her in your life. It’s amazing to me how much a few simple words can mean to a person. I will try to remember to give those words to make certain my loved ones know they are special just as they are. Hope you had a great birthday and thanks for sharing this beautiful story. xoxo Jean
taraPosted at 16:40h, 31 March
gulp. tears. beautiful.
stefPosted at 17:12h, 31 March
wow, so beautiful, so profound and so needed.
MindyPosted at 02:05h, 01 April
This brought tears to my eyes. There is nothing more powerful that someone could do or say than that. Awesome.
jackiePosted at 16:17h, 01 April
these stories (and my own) make me cry over the years we have spent trying to be worthy. but what a gift your aunt gave you in those eight precious words. and sometimes it’s precious words that can start the journey to healing. thank you for sharing!
KathyPosted at 17:02h, 01 April
I am so glad you had an aunt who new enough to say such a wonderful thing! I am rethinking how I talk to my three year old about what she wants to be when she grows up. Previously I might put out great possibilities, thinking I’m teaching her to dream big but I guess it also puts out grand expectations! Last night it came up last night and she was wondering about what she would do for "work" I guess because we were talking about work. Instead of listing off all the amazing options I said."Don’t worry about it, just be you and it will all work out OK!
LisPosted at 17:17h, 01 April
i am discreetly crying here at my desk … such a powerful and an important story. i grew up being praised, told i was smart, talented, creative, could do anything i wanted to do and that was crippling. i always felt like a fraud because anything i did, i had to work hard to accomplish and no one commented on that. i thought being smart meant things came easily, which they didn’t for me. i also think i spent my life trying to please/impress my father who loved me, was proud of me, but never really saw or knew me. i pray my daughter knows i see her, i love her for being her and that she is all a mother could ever hope for because she is uniquely herself.
so beautiful, thank you!
kimberly/tippytoesPosted at 17:35h, 01 April
What a beautiful post, Amie!
Jennifer SPosted at 20:52h, 01 April
Her eight beautiful words among these beautiful words of yours. xoxo
KerryPosted at 04:43h, 02 April
Amie, I read this yesterday and wept. I recently lost an dear Aunt. Who basically rescued me as a broken teen. Although I was not adopted..I had a father who was the judge and the jury. In his eyes no matter what I did..It could always be better. I turned inward and my Aunt came and basically nurtured me back. For years I tried to please him and I realized that the only one I had to please was myself.
Your Aunt was a smart woman. I find those eight words…so healing. Beautifully Profound. Thank You
Lisa JanePosted at 06:23h, 03 April
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I too have a story like yours.
Today I am 65 and still "beating myself up for not being enough"
After reading your story, finding your self through 8 words spoken with love & acceptance;
I am so happy for you.
You have given me a gift you will never know.
Keep writing and helping others out here who are walking the long road home.
Many thanks and I wish for you a continued wonderful Life.
kerithPosted at 22:44h, 03 April
Wow. Thank you for this. "ALL YOU HAD TO DO WAS BE BORN". I need to tattoo this in my brain forever and ever & into every woman who has ever felt she is not "good enough" – whatever that means, really. With all my heart, Thank you.
Terri FischerPosted at 05:04h, 05 April
this is so incredibly powerful. those eight words, and the story you have just given to us, to me, and indirectly, now, to my four children . . . it’s exponential. thank you. i’m so very moved.
AngPosted at 22:28h, 05 April
Aime first of all what a pleasure to meet you and have that brief chat in MD the other day – I kept saying to myself "remember to check out Tracey’s blog for the feature!" Just today I got around to it and wow. What a wonderful and beautiful woman you are, what a story, what a treasure.
I look forward to getting to know you more via this incredible online world, thanks for sharing your story!
MarciPosted at 00:23h, 06 April
I want to make sure my daughter knows that all she had to do was be born to be all I need her to be. Beautiful piece. Thanks for sharing.
PeggyPosted at 12:27h, 06 April
OMG Amie thanks for sharing your story. It spoke to my heart directly. I think it will be my next scrapbook project.
Katie @ cakes, tea and dreamsPosted at 14:39h, 06 April
Truly, truly lovely. Thank you.
J.Posted at 17:24h, 06 April
From one adoptee to another – I can so relate to this beautifully worded post. Wow.
DonnaCPosted at 22:28h, 06 April
This story brings tears to my eyes – why do we always to this to ourselves -thinking that if we aren’t exceptional we can’t be loved?
Kirsten HPosted at 03:23h, 07 April
such a beautiful post – I am glad that the important words were said and understood before it was too late
Dana NicholsPosted at 14:49h, 07 April
All I can say is: WONDERFUL POST!!!!
jennPosted at 02:03h, 09 April
Wow. Those 8 words hit me like a ten ton truck. I was more skimming then reading as I am waiting for something to warm on the stove… and suddenly tears started streaming down my face and I had to sit for a moment. Thank you so much for sharing.
PatPosted at 23:11h, 10 April
Thank you for your story. Each woman is a Daughter of God—you and I and all of you out there are unique and are worth more than any words could say. Believe in yourselves! We all need this reminder. Loved this.
Boston MamasPosted at 15:09h, 13 April
Amie, what an amazingly brave and moving post. I want to give you a huge hug right now. Thank you for sharing. -Christine
FireMomPosted at 15:26h, 16 April
As a birth mother, this post moved me. I hope my daughter never feels that way, that she knows from the love her adoptive mom has for her, the love that I have for her, she is always more than enough. Thank you for sharing.
JackiePosted at 00:34h, 20 April
Absolutely overwhelmed by your story. Thank you for sharing it – I am not adopted, but grew up feeling the same way – and I’m still struggling with it…good at things, but not the best and never feeling worthy of all that I have. I love that you got to hear your aunt tell you that you were worth everything all along!! Lovely!
Maryam in MarrakechPosted at 23:10h, 04 May
God I love this blog. And this post is why.
Charlene22MoralesPosted at 02:40h, 09 June
It’s great that people can take the business loans and it opens up new chances.
JessicaPosted at 17:32h, 29 July
Just read this through a SavvyAuntie post on twitter. And I can’t stop crying…so beautiful. I only hope that I can be such a meaningful part of my niece’s life, as she is such an important part of mine! Thank you for sharing this!!