A Girl's Guide to Adoption

February 16, 2008
By Sara Silverstein, Katonah, NY

Mandy tapped her pen on her desk and the students around her gave her cross looks for making noise. She rolled her eyes back since she didn’t have her computer it took her a longer time to write things. Mandy was supposed to be doing her English paper during study hall, but instead she sat alone, with a sheet of white lined paper, blank with freshness, it was saying write something amazing. Mandy looked at the paper and like it usually did when she looked at it screamed something genius, list, it was telling her to write a list. She was good at writing lists so Mandy picked up her pen, already missing the cap to it and started writing carefully.
A Girl’s Guide to Adoption.
Mandy wasn’t sure yet what she was going to write or what it was going to be on, but let her pen take its course.
You will always need to be perfect
You will always be afraid of abandonment
You will always feel something is missing
You will always have to answer stupid questions

Mandy wanted to get to five, but couldn’t think of anything else. The bell rang and she gripped her paper in her hand juggling the other books. She reached her next class and Mr. James slapped a graded paper in her hands. She instantly caught the x’s and marker over her work then looked at the grade.
It sat there, mocking her, screaming in her face, you’ve done it again you stupid oaf. The tears pricked the backs of her eyes as walked to her desk. Then she remembered her list and took it from her hand.
Number 1: You will always need to be perfect.
Dejectedly she shoved the list into her pocket and tried listening to the teacher. Her best friend sat at the table across from her and when Mr. James wasn’t looking chucked a note at her. Mandy smiled through the tears threatening to spill over and opened the note.
“Mr. James is so stupid I saw what grade you got, it’s unfair, he’s an unfair grader and you deserved higher! Don’t be sad, wait for me after class.”
After class Mandy stood in the doorframe waiting for her friend to get up. Sara walked to her giving Mr. James a dirty look right to his face.
Sara said, “Mr. James doesn’t even know what he’s doing, seriously! Don’t let him get to you and that grade isn’t going to really effect you, don’t let it, make sure that the next thing you hand in is going to kick butt!”
They walked towards the stairs by the locker.
Mandy laughed her anxieties melting away, “I know, it’s just I don’t know.”
Sara said, “Yeah, I know the feeling, look I can’t eat lunch with you today, I promised Haley I would sit with her today.”
Mandy shifted the books from her left side to her center. The halls were lined with posters students had made ripped and torn at the edges from kids running their hands against the walls. Mandy tried to advert her eyes, she knew what was going to come.
Mandy said, “Oh that’s fine, I’ll just sit with you guys.”
Sara looked at the ground, “Well, she kinda has to tell me something.”
Mandy said taking the hint, “Oh, yeah, I get it, well it’s fine, have a good time. I have to get going or else I’ll be late for my next class.”
Mandy walked through the halls barely able to see because of the tears blocking her vision, she was bold enough to let two fall down her face. Sara always did this to her. Mandy wasn’t sure why she let it bug her, but it did. Haley was one of Mandy’s friends, but they weren’t that close. She took the note out of her pocket and read it
Number 2: You will always be afraid of abandonment.
She put the list away again and she got the chills, she knew herself, her lists were usually true, but this was uncanny. She was afraid of abandonment, but she didn’t see Sara leaving her for Haley abandonment. As she pondered that thought for awhile she thought, I guess it could very well be abandonment since she is leaving me for Haley. Mandy pushed the thoughts away and arrived in Science. She took her seat and tried not to think about the hatred she had towards their subject, heredity. Even though Mandy had gotten immune to stupid jokes, questions, family tress, it was still a sensitive subject.
Her teacher walked around the room utilizing the space, which she usually did.
Ms. Jablonsky’s peppy voice kept her listening, “Before we jump start our hereditary unit I would like to say whether or not your parents gave birth to you they love you all the same. You don’t have to be blood related to have a connection. Blood and genes don’t change who raised you, who loves you. Your parents are your parents whether you are adopted or born from your parents.”
Mandy pressed her pen into the paper stiffly. The tears were rolling down her cheeks thinking about her Mom, looking at her like she always did. The tears kept rolling as she thought about the mother she wasn’t good enough for. She tried to think about what was true, her birth mom loved her, but she couldn’t keep Mandy. Kayla looked at her with concern. She knew about Mandy and being adopted and knew how hard this was for her.
Kayla whispered, “Are you okay?”
Mandy nodded wiping the tears away quickly. Without even looking she knew the next thing on her list.
Number 3: You will always feel like something is missing.
She tuned out Ms. Jablonsky and her peppy voice and her hereditary speeches. As the daydreams engulfed her she found a quiet, safe, happy place. Then the bell signaling lunch rang Mandy ran to her locker. The other eighth graders were chatting joyous faces and laughing rang in her ears. She approached the cafeteria and sat down at a table by herself. Mandy could and usually was a sociable person, but today she felt like being alone, at least for a little bit. Jenny another girl from her Science class stopped by her table to chat.
Jenny said, “Hey, I saw you crying during Science, was everything OK?”
Mandy sighed, “Yeah everything’s okay, I just hate hereditary.”
Jenny said, “Oh?”
Mandy said, “Yeah, I’m adopted.”
Mandy looked down at her hands studying the fake grains in the tables not caring what Jenny was looking like.
Jenny said, “Really? I didn’t know that! So do you know your birth parents?”
Mandy said, “No, if I did, they would be in trouble with the government.”
Mandy was looking around the lunch room desperately looking for someone to come and save her this failed sourly.
Jenny said, “That’s so cool, to have two sets of parents, I would love that.”
Mandy nodded annoyed, she knew being adopted was far from being cool, if Jenny spent one day in her shoes she would be at the nearest Payless begging for a new pair. Jenny nodded back and waved goodbye skipping away.
Number 4: You will always have to answer stupid questions
Mandy thought crossly, people are so naive, they think they know everything. They would hate to be in my shoes. Mandy then thought about the good times she had with her parents and how she thought that because of her adoption she loved and cherished them so much more than others. Mandy was regretting her cross thoughts about her adoption. She then pulled out her note and added her list something happier.
Adoption has it’s bad sides, but you should learn to embrace it and accept it for what it is, it made you who you are today.

Mandy stashed her list in her pocket, but knew it was already engraved in her heart.

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