I’ve heard many times that adoptive, foster, and orphaned children often struggle with knowing where they belong in this world. I don’t doubt it. In fact, I struggle with it daily. There have been times in my life where I think, “Oh, I finally belong somewhere” or “I finally fit into a picture” but those few times have only been momentary. Growing up I knew where I belonged. I belonged to the people who surrounded me, the people who, despite the disturbing factors, needed me. I belonged to my brothers and my sisters. I belonged to an establishment of circular rotation in which I had purpose. But now, I don’t. Where do I belong? I never felt like I truly belonged in any of the families who took me in. The foster families were there to provide and shelter me, but I didn’t belong and I definitely didn’t fit in. In one foster home, my foster mom had a wall of photos, family photos, in which all of her biological children resided, as well as a select few foster children. I remember thinking to myself, “if only I could get on that wall, then maybe I would belong. I would fit in. There would be a place for me on this limited wall.” When I moved in with my adoptive parents I remember thinking, “I already don’t fit in. Where do I belong in this picture?” The truth is, I don’t fit in nor do I belong with that family. Something that neither of us understood is that the past follows you wherever you go. I went there wanting to fit in, expecting to, and I believe that my a.parents had that same idea. The truth is, it was not, and is not, possible for me to just waltz into a family and belong. I believe that a child, in a family, grows to belong and their sense of belonging comes from the strength of that familial unit. When adopted I was 17 1/2. I came into that home with 17 1/2 years of Crazytown lodged into my beautiful brain. I had grown up where belonging meant I was needed and wanted in ways that I shouldn’t have been. They too came with a history. They came already belonging. They had their sports in which they grew together, their church in which they worshiped together, their family rituals in which they participated, their outdoor activity in which they bonded. Things that they thought I would quickly pick up and adapt to. I didn’t. I didn’t fit in with that family and because of it, it led to even less belonging. When I moved here I felt so out-of-place. I felt like I was alone in the world. Going into the “familial” relationship with Bailey and her kids, I was weary. I had entered family after family in which I didn’t belong, I wasn’t going to get my hopes up. For the first time since the separation of my bio family I felt like I belonged, not completely but still, that feeling was finally there. When Bailey and I would talk about where I fit in she would tell me that I just fit in, that I belonged. After I was kicked out of Bailey’s that sense of belonging diminished quickly, but a piece of my heart still held onto it. As the days and weeks go on that sense of belonging decreases more and more due to events happening around the relationship. The sense of not belonging really hit me hard this week. Zhanna told me that she and Bailey are going on a trip to check out schools and stuff and then asked if I was going, thinking I already knew and because for the past year we have done these things together. I hadn’t known about the trip. She and I talked about it and she talked about how she feels like her mom is slowly encouraging us to drift apart and how she feels like her mom doesn’t want me as part of the “family” anymore. I already knew that, or felt it I should say. I have felt for a while now that Bailey is slowly moving out of my life and that familial “bond” is dissipating. Bailey and I briefly talked about the trip yesterday and the only line that keeps running through my head is, “I know that this trip solidifies that you aren’t part of our family and I’m sorry”. And so my thoughts have raced into the great abyss of belonging. Where do I fit in? If not here, and if not there, then where? I think that is why a lot of fosters, at least that I know of, grow up find so much consolation in having a child. They finally belong. They fit perfectly into this child’s world. They have a purpose. Today Bailey asked me if I would be willing to do an intensive 30 day, in-patient program, which I will, to help get to the core of the trauma. Is this where I belong? In a unit? In a facility? I don’t want that. If belonging means belonging to an institute than I’d rather not belong at all. That sense of belonging had been long gone in my life for many years and only recently crept back up, so even without belonging I know I’ll get somewhere, it’s the not belonging that hurts. Maybe it’s just true that some of us were made to stand out or “just shine”. Maybe that’s why some of us have just never found that sense of belonging, because we were made to stand out. Hello white crayon in a box of yellow.