One of the things I can remember is the smell and sight of the room that my parents adopted me in.
One big room with at least 30 air mattresses and toys. There was writing on the walls and carpet stains, but the room smelled like fresh coconuts. Still to this day, occasionally, I will get a whiff of the smell.
This was the room where I first met my adopted parents.
The dictionary definition of the word “orphan” is, “a child whose parents are dead” But mine are not.
Being adopted from Bucharest, Romania at a young age of 2, I always grew up being the outsider. I had no choice but to “fit in,” despite having a different skin color than my adopted parents, a different accent, different hair color, facial features and just an overall different appearance. Some days it was hard, but other days I was just a “normal” kid like everyone else.
Growing up was hard, needless to say. Never resembling my parents, people questioned me all the time if I knew I was adopted, even calling me “foreign” to this day. Do I look back? Absolutely not.
Flashbacks come and go. Playing on the playground and hearing kids laugh and scream feels just like yesterday. I’ll be outside walking around the park and hear the voices in my head of the kids that I learned to like and grow up with. It’s all a blur but some days are better than others. It’s kind of like going through dialysis, some days you wake up feeling good, other days you wake up in a mood.
As I grow up, I finally understand the true meaning of “orphan.” It’s embracing all the bad times that people make fun of you. It’s being able to open up and be passionate about your past. It’s about proving everyone wrong who looked down on you. To me the meaning of an “orphan” isn’t about your parents being dead, it’s about embracing the opportunity to live for them.
My parents are still with me. And, when I smell coconuts, I know my parents are looking down at me with tears of joy.