Welcome to 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days, hosted by Portrait of an Adoption. This series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying adoption experiences and perspectives. 

My Experience as an Adoptee
By Kaylee Gregory

*This does contain mentions of violence which some people may find triggering*

The word “normal” means something slightly different to everyone, while the word “typical” reflects the majority of something. My home life has been “normal” since I was about six years old, but It definitely hasn’t been “typical.”

To me, a typical home life consists of a mother, father, and potential siblings. As you have probably figured out from the title, I haven’t quite had this experience.

The earliest memories that I have are a mix of disturbing and sweet. I remember clearly having a group hug with my mom and dad in the middle of our home, a single-wide trailer. I remember going on a hunt for bean bag frogs around the trailer as well (Frogs were my favorite animal at that point, and I still find them quite fascinating).

These are good memories. I also remember the screaming matches that my parents frequently engaged in. I remember watching cartoons while trying to block out the noise of shattering bottles behind me.

I remember being at my grandmother’s house, standing on a chair in the kitchen yelling at my parents to stop fighting. I was four years old. The most disturbing thing that I remember, however, is what was most likely the night that my mother fatally overdosed.

While I can’t be positive, as memories can be deceiving, I am pretty sure that that is what this memory was. I was hiding under a blanket on my mattress in the living room while my mother was screaming about how she was in pain. I remember the paramedics coming to my house, and I remember that this was the last night that I lived with my parents.

My father’s mother, whom I call Nanna Billy, took my back to her house that night. I lived with Nanna Billy and her partner Tim for some time. One of my uncles and his wife lived with us at the time as well.

I was very young, so I didn’t understand what was happening the day that child services came and took me away from Nanna Billy. If it wasn’t for my mother’s mom, whom I call Nanny, I most likely would have been placed in the foster care system. I know that there are problems with the foster care system, and I am so grateful that Nanny took me in.

In the early stages of living with Nanny, I saw Nanna Billy and Tim frequently. I saw my dad very rarely though. As a young child I had been scarred, and I started seeing therapists around the age of eight. Despite this, it took until I was fourteen to get me the help that I needed.

During this timeframe, I was morbidly obese as well, which didn’t help my attitude. I went through a weight loss program at the YMCA called Fun to be Fit. I did lose a lot of weight. Additionally, I had been playing basketball during this time.

I aged out of the program when I started middle school, which led to me developing an eating disorder. I feel like knowledge of this eating disorder is definitely not as mainstream as it should be.

It is called binge-eating disorder. The years of strict dieting ultimately caused me to develop the habit of eating huge quantities of food until there was either no more food left to eat, or I physically could not eat any more. Nanny took me to the doctor to see if she could get an official diagnosis, but I lied to the doctor about how much I consumed.

I honestly don’t remember if I was ashamed, or If I couldn’t admit that I had a problem. During this time of my life, I was a horrible child. I was so angry at everything, including myself.

My life took a change for the better around the age of fourteen. I started seeing a psychiatrist, who I will call Dr. V. At first, I didn’t want to take the medicines he prescribed, but I did eventually give in. It took a few tries, but he finally got the right combination for me. I take two medications, one for anxiety (it also helps my anger problem) and one for ADHD. Blessedly, the medication that I take for ADHD is also used to treat BED (binge-eating disorder).

Fast forwarding to now, I have lost 90 pounds since my eighth-grade year, and I am still working on becoming more confident.

Now that I am a senior in high school, I have really matured. Looking back at those years, I cringe when I think about how I acted. However, if Nanny had not adopted me, I really feel like I would not be the person I am today. I am so grateful to Nanny for putting up with me, even when I was really mean to her. She got me the help I needed, and I will eternally thank her.

As I previously mentioned, I am a senior in high school. I am about to begin the next part of my life — adulthood. I can honestly say that I dread the future much more than I welcome it. There will never be another person whom I love more than Nanny, and the older I get, the more I worry about losing her.

She’s not young anymore, she turns seventy-one in two weeks. Typically, people have their parents in their lives until they themselves have reached old age. I won’t have Nanny to still talk to when I’m sixty.

I lost so much as a child, and Nanny continues to make my life as normal as possible. I may only be seventeen right now, but I’m no fool. The older you get, the faster time goes. I am planning on living at home while attending University.

Despite the fact that I will have to drive over two hours daily, I want to be able to see Nanny as much as possible for as long as I can.

Nanny has helped me grow into who I am today. As I end this chapter of my life, I am scared. I feel like the typical mindset of people my age is about how they are ready to get away from home, to fly the nest.

As I get older however, the closer to home I wish to stay. Thankfully, I was never in a situation where I didn’t have a parental figure. This isn’t the case for every kid in an uncertain situation, however.

I know that when I get to the age where I am ready to start a family, adoption will definitely be something that I seriously look into. I know where I would have been if It wasn’t for Nanny. If I’m ever presented the opportunity, I would love to provide someone the safe, nurturing environment that Nanny offered me.

Kaylee (Gregory) is a 17-year-old female who is an accomplished saxophone player and beginning guitarist. Additionally, she enjoys mock trial and basketball (and 15 other hobbies that she couldn’t possibly list here). 

* * * *
Carrie Goldman is the host of Portrait of an Adoption. She is an award-winning author, speaker, and bullying prevention educator. Follow Carrie’s blog Portrait of an Adoption on Facebook and Twitter