Have you ever felt that you were imprudently transplanted 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 were highly dissimilar and seemingly unrelated to mine. I was cognitively aware of our obvious differences at an early age and intuitively recognized polarizing differences in our personalities, comfort levels, styles and deportment and automatically warmed to strangers who were more like me. My adoptive mother and I had contrasting emotional responses to external stimuli and a divergence of opinions on common issues. There were variances in our sense of humor and subtle imbalances in our thinking. Whenever she embarrassed me in public by highlighting my character flaws my emotional responses were intensified—“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 for utilitarian purposes, profit or beauty. They have a negative connotation because they aren’t useful or beneficial. They are invasive outside their native habitat and grow wild and rank when they aren’t controlled. They proliferate 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 noxious. They are worrisome when they compete for limited resources; infect and degrade the quality of 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 water, and they are crying out for a shoulder to lean on, they need to be reminded that many plants that are 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; improve soil conditions by acting as mulch; protect water supplies by reducing moisture loss and soil erosion; bring nutrients to the surface through the tap root; host nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the soil; breakup hardpan soils in cultivated fields; and provide colorful exotic flowers or prominent foliage in showy botanic gardens.
When an adoptee is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, they must learn that happiness and contentment comes from rejecting the prosaic feelings of lonesomeness and tearful thoughts of separation associated with adoption and ask the question, “Whats wrong with attractive yellow flowers and purple Scottish Thistles?” They are weeds to some people but they are also appreciated for many reasons. Dandelions are edible and nutritious in salads. Bees make delicious honey from them. Winemakers use them to produce delicate wines. 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.”