Have you ever felt that you were imprudently transplanted? Do you feel like a wild bramble growing in a cultivated field of strawberries? Have you ever experienced the hurtful feelings of being judged, viewed with contempt and disapproval, or considered undesirable and unwanted in a particular situation because you were adopted? Have you ever felt unwanted and unloved outside of your comfort zone and native habitat or sensed that you were in a human-controlled setting where you were unwelcome?
Strangers profiled me as my mother’s “adopted child.” She had skin as pale as milk. Her eyes were blue, and her hair was naturally blond. The nature of her character, attitude, appearance, and temperament was highly dissimilar and seemingly unrelated to mine. I was cognitively aware of our apparent differences at an early age. I intuitively recognized polarizing differences in our personalities, comfort levels, styles, and deportment. I automatically warmed to strangers who were more like me. My adoptive mother and I had contrasting emotional responses to external stimuli and differing opinions on common issues. There were variances in our sense of humor and subtle imbalances in our thinking. I was not too fond of it when she highlighted my character flaws and embarrassed me in public. My emotional response was always intense. I felt like a weed, out of place and unloved.”
The word “weed” has no botanical significance in taxonomy because it is simply a plant growing outside of its natural geographic range in a situation where it is unwanted. Weeds are not valued because they have no practical purposes, profit, or beauty. They have a negative connotation because they aren’t beneficial. They are invasive outside their native habitat and grow wild and rank when not controlled. They spread haphazardly with creeping stems that root and spread out and hinder the growth of other more desirable vegetation. Weeds are natural enemies because they cause difficulty and annoyance. Weeds are troublesome, poisonous, and harmful. They are worrisome when they compete for limited resources; infect and degrade desired plants; cause damage to the environment; harbor pests, cause irritation, and carry pathogens.
When an adoptee feels like a weed or a fish out of the water and cries out for a shoulder to lean on, they need to know that many plants widely regarded as weeds have beneficial properties. They are intentionally grown in gardens and other cultivated settings and valued for food and herbal medicines. Some weeds attract insects that are beneficial to other plants. Some improve soil conditions by acting as mulch. Weeds protect water supplies by reducing moisture loss and soil erosion and bring nutrients to the surface through the taproot. Breaking up hardpan soils in cultivated fields and hosting nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the earth are positive benefits. Many weeds have colorful exotic flowers and prominent foliage in showy botanic gardens.
Adoptees with post traumatic stress disorder suffer greatly. They need to know that happiness and contentment come from rejecting the prosaic feelings of lonesomeness and tearful thoughts of separation associated with adoption. The question they should be asking is, “What’s wrong with attractive yellow flowers and purple Scottish Thistles?” Thistles have many reasons to be appreciated. What about dandelions? Bees make delicious honey from them. Winemakers use them to produce delicate wines, and they are edible and nutritious in salads. They have bright yellow flowers that add aesthetic beauty to alpine meadows and fallow fields. “Dandelions and thistles are tough, resilient plants that thrive in harsh environments and difficult circumstances. They are worthy and full of nature’s gold—just like you and me.”