In her second article for the magazine, Peggy Galamez shares with us how being adopted has shaped how she parents her two daughters. You can read her first article Healing, Belonging and Finding My Own Way as an Adoptee here.
Peggy, author of “Dear Daughters, Own Your Worth,” is a worthiness, healing mentor for adoptees like herself. Her own story as a transracial adoptee fuels her desire to help others find their own path to healing by feel worthy of love and belonging, feeling safe in your body, living life on your terms while still acknowledging the trauma of adoption.
She has a Health & Wellness Coaching and education background, a Reiki certification, and has been on the “Adoptees On” podcast. Her Facebook Group “Adoptees for Healing” acknowledges adoption stories and creates a space for conversations about worthiness, healing in its many forms, and belonging for adoptees. She believes that living fully and living well means that we are healing the parts of us that are asking to be healed, empowering ourselves and others in this process, and stepping into our courage and voice.
“We all have a beautiful light inside of us that was never meant to be dimmed or extinguished. Some of us carry deep pain and scars, but to heal is to live. I want to help adoptees to not only find their light, but to feel it and live in theirs. Even in our darkest most painful times, we can find our way through it.”
In her free time, Peggy enjoys exploring new places with her family, reading, cooking, painting and having impromptu dance parties with her husband, daughters and their corgi.
How Being Adopted Has Shaped My Parenting
I was adopted from Seoul in 1976. I arrived as a malnourished baby at six months old with a single tear running down my cheek according to my mom. My first home was in Kalamazoo, Michigan and later in many different cities in the Midwest.
Growing up, I wanted nothing more than to be like the kids I saw in my communities. This was the opposite to the reflection of who I saw in the mirror. My parents love me, and I know this. But I had many moments in my life where I felt like somehow, that I just wasn’t enough.
My sense of not feeling enough in my family came about because I felt that I had to act, behave and show up in very specific ways in order to be liked, loved and accepted. As an adoptee, I do believe that our deeply rooted trauma of rejection and abandonment lives in us, whether we choose to acknowledge this on a conscious level or not.
It may sound harsh to write this, as I share something so personal. But in sharing my truth, I want others to know they are not alone if it sounds familiar. I don’t hate my parents or blame them because I know they were doing the best they could with the knowledge and tools they had at the time. That was, however, a very different time and parenting has evolved tremendously since then.
Shortly after I got married, my husband finally convinced me to begin our family. We spent a lot of time talking about having our own kids, and about adopting. I was scared of both ideas to be honest. I didn’t know if I was going to be a good “enough” mother or even the slightest clue as to how to be a mother.
I wasn’t drawn to babies and never volunteered to hold one with my large extended family. However, the more I sat with this idea of having my own family, something inside me kept telling me that I wanted to have my own children. There was something about having this biological connection that I didn’t have with my own parents, that I wanted. Looking back, there was no way for me to know just how vulnerable you have to be as a parent, or the importance of taking and teaching ownership of your mistakes. But I continue to learn and grow among the many lessons parenting continues to teach me.
I have two girls who are a unique, beautiful blend of myself and my husband. Parenting them has allowed me in a “front of mind way” to teach them areas where I felt challenged and struggled with growing up, but we never talked about any of it. Areas around self-esteem, building self-confidence, loving and accepting the person you are.
I am always looking for opportunities for them to connect with their feelings, their bodies and to know that no matter how they feel, it’s not right or wrong. Their feelings are true for them and they always matter. I want them to find and have their own voice.
I do my best to teach them how to appreciate themselves as individuals, and to be proud of their mixed heritage of being Korean, Salvadorean and American. My hope is that they will take pride in the young women they are becoming and to embrace and love all of their qualities. At the end of the day, the deeper meaning and message for me is how to love yourself as you are, to always see yourself as enough and be proud of who you are. This is my formula for knowing your worth, though, truth be told, it is probably evolving.
I think that knowing our worth one of the best gifts we can give to ourselves. It means that we can work at having healthy relationships with others, including ourselves. Also, we won’t put up with someone who tries to devalue us. We will be able to find our courage and ask for what we want and to know how to take care of ourselves as we grow and change. As I tell my girls, no one can make you feel less than or small unless you allow this.
The statements I share with them every day, are worded in ways that are meant to be gifts – “You are strong, powerful and brave”. And my actions are meant to let them know they are loved for who they are and enough as they are.
It goes without saying, as parents, we are going to make plenty of mistakes. I have learned that one of the most helpful things I can say when I know I have messed up is “I am sorry”. No “buts” attached or expectations lie in wait. Just those three powerful words.
I am learning how to become a better listener and to be patient, which is by far the hardest part for me as a parent. When I look at my children through the lens of who they are becoming, and to stop and appreciate all their unique, quirky and amazing qualities, then my job as a parent feels a bit easier.
I am not raising them to be doctors, lawyers or artists. I am raising them to be confident in who they are, love themselves and have compassion for others. They will find their own calling along the way. To know their worth in this ever growing and changing process. I want them to be kind human beings, but they have to first learn how to have this experience with themselves. I know so many parents can relate with our desire to see our children grow and thrive beyond what it looks like professionally.
Perhaps my perspective on parenting is different because I am adopted and the experience I had growing up. Either way, I am grateful that I have been given the gift of parenting my girls and for the connection I have with them.