There are so many questions that I get as an older adoptee. “So, you remember everything?” “Wow, what was that like?” “Do you miss it?”

Yes, I do remember. Of course, I miss it. And goodness, it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I don’t even know how to begin to explain such a deep experience. I wasn’t even twelve years old, and my entire world had flipped upside down. I’d even dare to say that it’s unexplainable. But I give it a try every time someone asks me to share my story, so here I go again.

We had been in an orphanage in Ethiopia from September of 2009 until January 2010, “preparing for our departure” – whatever that meant. Our months at the orphanage were some of the hardest of my life because there was so much adjustment and so much change. Little did I know that would be just the beginning.

My twin sister and I arrived in the United States in January of 2010. I remember some details so well, but others not so much. Walking into that airport lobby and holding my new mom’s hand as I was about to meet the rest of my new family was the strangest feeling in the world. In that moment, every emotion you can imagine hit me all at once. I was excited, anxious, overwhelmed, and terrified out of my mind.

The first few weeks and months were a blur. Who am I kidding, the whole year was a blur. Between the big things, like trying to understand enough English to have decent conversations or get back to school, and the little things, like adjusting to the weather (SNOW?!) or the food, we learned SO much. The first year was, as I like to call it, a saturation year. It was about taking it all in: the good, the scary, and the exciting things.

Looking back, I realize that I had to learn to navigate so much while at the same time learning how I felt about the fact that I was adopted. For so much of the first year I was in survival mode, which was really all that I could be. Then, I began asking a lot of questions, questions that I never thought I would have to ask, questions that I thought I didn’t want to know the answers to. I am an internal processor, so all these questions were spinning in my brain all the time and everywhere. One thought process or question would often lead to another and another and another…

Was this really my life? 

Was I ever going to see my friends and my family ever again? 

Can I trust them? 

Will I be happy? 

Will I be safe? 

Is this really real? 

As the years have gone on, I have learned to navigate through those questions and continue in the healing process. The best thing I have done for myself in the last thirteen and a half years is to be intentional about healing and forgiveness. I am so grateful for all the people in my life who have helped me get where I am and continue to lead me to the Lord. Every year, I look back in gratitude for all the ways I have grown, changed, and become who God has created me to be.

If I could go back and tell twelve-year-old me anything, I would tell her:

Be gentle with yourself, healing doesn’t happen overnight.

Share what’s on your heart; you shouldn’t have to do all of this alone.

Write it all down; free your mind of all the thoughts spinning in your head.

Learn to be present; don’t let your wounds keep you from living these moments.

It will pass; you will look back on this and thank God for what He’s taught you.

I remind myself of all these things over and over because even now, I need to remember them. Hope doesn’t live in the past, and neither does healing. Hope is in the present. Healing is in the present; it is constant. I pray that as you are reading this you remember that. Wherever you are in your healing journey, I hope you find courage. Keep your head up and live in gratitude that you are where you’re meant to be.

And in your healing, I hope you remember:

Be gentle with yourself, healing doesn’t happen overnight.

Share what’s on your heart; you shouldn’t have to do all of this alone.

Write it all down; free your mind of all the thoughts spinning in your head.

Learn to be present; don’t let your wounds keep you from living these moments.

It will pass; you will look back on this and thank God for what He’s taught you.

Live in hope, have courage, live joyfully!

Peace in Christ,
Mary Peach

Mary Peach is in her mid-twenties and lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. She was adopted from Ethiopia with her twin sister and grew up with her beautiful family (she has eight siblings, and five of them are also adopted!) in Canton, Ohio. She has a bachelor’s in human development and family studies from Kent State University, and currently teaches theology at a Catholic school. She is also currently studying for her master’s degree in psychology at Divine Mercy University. She loves traveling (she’s been to nineteen countries so far!), photography, volleyball, and hanging out with friends.