I have always had an identity issue but not in the traditional sense that most people would think of. Those who grew up without their parents have an idea of what I am talking about. Growing up I had great self-esteem, I knew exactly what I wanted to be (relatively speaking), and I had a strong sense of who I was as a person yet I had identity issues. I really did not know where I belonged as a child or whose I belonged to. I did not always know how to explain to my peers that I was the youngest sibling of three AND that I had a younger “foster” sister, an older “foster” sister, and an older “foster” brother as well as a mom AND “foster” parents. That was my life. I was constantly confused about how to embrace the entanglement of my family life, which webbed a double world of “real” family and “foster” family. I don’t think I ever really figured it out I just learned how to adjust and accept it for what it was but I didn’t plan on feeling like that once I became an adult.
For those who have yet to read my blogs where I discuss how foster children believe that once they become adults that all the hardships of foster care & feelings associated will pass only to learn that not much passed besides time. When foster children become adults we just feel like foster adults. We no longer are wards of the state who are just treated like a number but we have the same issues in a world where there is more freedom and still little answers. As adults we face the same ill feelings of rejection and abandonment as we still wonder, “where do we go” or “who is our family”. Matter of fact we are probably more confused coming into “foster adulthood” then we were going into “foster care” because now we have a lifetime of connections with people who weren’t our family but played that role by taking care of us. What do we do with that when we grow up? How do we incorporate and intertwine that “foster” family with our “biological” families AND have a holistic life instead of the double reality that we are so accustomed to? This is why I have felt I have had identity issues. It is not that I don’t know who I am it is that I often feel like I don’t know whose I am.
Fast forward to my foster adulthood and I ran head on into identity issues 101 during my divorce! I am smack dab in the middle of a divorce and I have realized that I am so confused on “whose I am” that I can barely sign my last name. I already had a complex about my maiden last name but now I have one about my married name too. Given the last name of “Kennedy” upon birth I have long since my childhood felt as though I am not a Kennedy. My mother was married prior to giving birth to me and she decided to keep the last name acquired during her marriage and gave that name to me. Once I became old enough to connect the dots I started to have a complex about the name Kennedy and felt that the name belonged to my older brother and sister but did not belong to me. Now I have come to know who my biological father might be (we have not taken the test yet) and that added to this last name complex. Luckily I had already gotten married and become Kennedy-Osiro by the time I met my father so it didn’t bother me too much feeling like my father’s last name should have been mine as a child but now I am getting a divorce and I don’t know whose name I should be carrying. I am not a Kennedy and now technically I will no longer be an Osiro so I ask, “Whose name is it anyway?”
Today I had a revelation and I am convinced that both names are mine and if I choose to remain a Kennedy-Osiro then that is my business. Why would I want to bear the name of a man who doesn’t love me? Now that is a very good question and one that I have an answer to that most will think is ludicrous: it is mine and I earned it. See another revelation that I had today is that for me being a wife was a dream. Becoming a wife was an accomplishment and despite my marriage ending in a divorce it is an accomplishment that I am fairly proud of. It is my utter belief that foster care is the prime reason that I longed to be a wife as becoming a wife gave me a sense of belonging. For me it became the true gap between foster care and post foster care. As a wife it meant I had a family and belonged to something where as a child I felt I belonged to no one and nothing in particular.
I think I might keep my last name though I am not 100% sure. For now it is my name and it is the name that I have grown accustomed to and have grown to love.
Photo Credit: BKennedy-Osiro
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