Get to know what I’ve endured, then you’d understand who I am.

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Get to know what I’ve endured, then you’d understand who I am.

Alyssa and Marissa Neal sit with a judge and sign various documents at their adoption hearing.

Alyssa and Marissa Neal sit with a judge and sign various documents at their adoption hearing.

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Neal

Alyssa and Marissa Neal sit with a judge and sign various documents at their adoption hearing.

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Neal

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Neal

Alyssa and Marissa Neal sit with a judge and sign various documents at their adoption hearing.

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When I was a little girl, with the world all fuzzy around me, I didn’t know that my situation wasn’t the best. Of course, I knew that I didn’t get as much food as the other girls and boys my age, and that my mom was never home taking care of us, and that my dad was in and out of prison for the few years I actually saw him, but it didn’t really connect.

I wish that I could remember more of what had gone on in my family. I’m sure a few of my older siblings do, and maybe I’m lucky that I don’t remember. I was only three and a half when I got taken, quite forcibly, away from the family that I was born with, so I don’t have an overload of memories.

That’s not to say I don’t remember anything, of course.

I remember every night, laying in bed, listening for my mom to get home, hoping she wasn’t drunk, or high, and that there wouldn’t be an argument between her and my sister. I remember sitting at the table every day, hoping that I’d get some food that a one to three-year-old would reasonably eat. I remember the day they came for me. They being Child and Family Services: a group that attempted to try to give me a better life.

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Neal
Before being adopted, Alyssa Neal did have some happy times with her birth family, pictured above. However, after it became unsafe for Alyssa and her sister to stay with their birth family, they were eventually adopted by a new family.

It wasn’t all teardrops and tragedy when I was with my birth family though. I did have a few happy memories, like every little kid. Ones of Dunkin Donuts, ice cream, and even my father. Although, I’m not really sure that I can say that the good outweighed the bad in my younger life.

On the last day of living with my birth mom, it was bright and sunny, and I was inside. After a knock on the door, a professional-looking person picked me up, carrying me outside. I was squirming and screaming, but not entirely for my mom. My three-year-old mind decided that it wanted my favorite boots. The Dora light-up ones.

Needless to say, I didn’t get to go back for them.

I had a rough few years of being in many different houses after leaving my birth family. No one really wanted me. I was most definitely not a good child. One foster mother even called me the ‘devil’s spawn.’ I wasn’t entirely hopeful anyone would ever want me until I was adopted at the age of five, along with my older sister, Marissa, on August 2, 2006.

After being adopted, I  was able to grow up with a mom who cared for me as much as she did for her birth children. It was nice knowing that when I went home every day it would be to smiles and hugs if I so desired. I felt lucky. I knew that not everyone got that.

I feel like other people don’t always understand adopted people. They feel sorry for them, or feel like they need to be consoled. I don’t believe that’s the case.

The adopted ones are the lucky ones though. They are the 2% of the human population that gets the hope of a family they didn’t have before. Thousands of other children go their whole lives not knowing what a true family is.  But not me. I am one of the lucky ones.

While my home life was better, this didn’t mean all my problems just went away as I grew up.  I often felt like an outsider. When I got to middle school, the only friend I had decided that she’d rather hang out with other people. She didn’t like my eccentricities. I didn’t blame her, so I didn’t put up a fight, like I might’ve a couple years prior.

She, along with most of the school, decided that bullying was the only way to put me in my place. Name calling, being laughed at, and exclusion were things I knew real well.

And, along with bullies, my old stepfather was a true participator in the action.

I was choked in eighth grade, in April, on my mother’s birthday. Or some time around it. No, I didn’t choke, my father had forcibly choked me, keeping me in the crook of his left arm. I could barely breathe as I had to gasp for the little air I could manage, trying to call for help. That was the night he’d left, and wasn’t allowed back.

And high school… that’s where my life started getting rough again. I might have been through a low-key abusive father, who’d married my adoptive mother when I was in second grade or so, and a tough adoption, but that wasn’t what I would count as my hardest point in time. That would be all the friendships that vanished in the blink of an eye. No one to turn to when I was in need. Sitting in the corridors between lunch periods, not wanting to sit alone again in a full cafeteria.

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Neal
Alyssa and her sister were able to stay together after being adopted by their new family.

He, my used-to-be stepdad, wasn’t completely gone yet, either. He fought in court against us, claiming that he was innocent against my claim. He didn’t get any jail time, but it is now on his permanent record. When we were sure everything was finalized, including the divorce, my mother talked about me getting a permanent restraining order on him, so he couldn’t come near me again. I didn’t, knowing I would have felt too much like a coward if I had.

It was around that time that I’d started having heart problems. I think that the stress of my life had started the problems on my heart, because it wasn’t too uncommon with the type of heart problem I had. They called it Supraventricular Tachycardia, or SVT for short. I only have minimal problems now, which some would call nothing, after the surgery I had gotten on November 16, 2015.

Even through all that had happened, I’m still standing here, and a few harsh comments and actions won’t hurt me anymore. Not saying that they shouldn’t end, because they do still affect me, as well as anyone who calls themself human, throughout our lives.

Just, please. Everyone has a story behind them that they don’t put out for us to see. We all deserve our privacy, and not being made fun of if you find out something that had happened in their lives, or if they do something that is judged as ‘uncool.’

Learn someone’s story before you judge who they are. It’s not always going to go how you expect.

Don’t judge me, or anyone else, for what didn’t you know. Judge for what you do know now, if you must judge at all.

A human’s first instinct is to judge other people. For example, they judge me and you. As such, many people assume that they know who I am. They make a judgement of who I am before they even meet me.  But they don’t. Not really. You, as the reader, couldn’t have said what I’ve been through, nor what I am going to go through. You don’t know the trail I’ve made on my journey to adulthood, though I’m still only 17, and the one that I’m continuing with quite a blaze, through my adoption and my crazy family.

You can call me names like ‘weirdo,’ or ‘idiot,’ or tell me that I don’t belong here, and try to make me feel insecure about my standing in the world. You may judge who a person is, or anything that you know about them, thinking that you might know them better than you actually do, but please wait. Hold off on what you think about a person before you mark them off.

This is a significant part of my story, and it’s hard to tell you this, knowing that you could turn it all into a joke, or bully me on something that had happened in my past.

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