I’ve never been adopted for two and a half years.
When someone comes to adopt, I’ve always been hopeful, holding my breath, my eyes lingering at them for longer than a minute. After a few times, I’ve been optimistic. After that, I lost my hope. I’ve always wondered why no one would swing by and say, “This little one is so lovely!”
Well, I’m eleven now. I’ve been adopted by kind parents, and that’s all it matters. Also, since I’m eleven, I know why I wasn’t adopted for a long time. I’ve got cerebral palsy, and I’m stuck sitting in a wheelchair for the rest of my life (I think? I’m really not so sure). My parents tried making me walk, but it was like making a horse skateboard. My leg drags a little, and my brain is messed up. My whole body is messed up.
I used to keep asking my mom why my biological mom left me in the dump (a.k.a., the orphanage). She always said she didn’t know. It hurts thinking that she might’ve left me because of my disability. Maybe she’s out there somewhere, bearing another child that’s normal. It hurts even more that she probably forgot about me, possibly not regretting any moment of it. It hurts to even think about my mother, not even knowing what her hair color is (maybe dark brown, like mine). How could I possibly know?
Maybe my mom isn’t the one who left me in the dump. Maybe my mom died a little after I was born, and my dad didn’t know what to do with me. Maybe my dad was the one who convinced my mother to put me in the orphanage. Any scenario was possible.
I knew better than to tell my mother that I was messed up, that I belonged in the trash like everyone tells me. She would always say, more like declare, “Alice. Stop. You may have a physical disability, but your mind is strong. You are the sweetest child I have ever met. You are a true star. You know what they say. Don’t just watch the stars shine. Be a star, and shine brighter.”
Yeah, like anyone would think I’m a star. You should see me eat. I don’t usually spit, but when I get nervous, my body takes control. I spit. I cough. I choke. And you should see me talk. I squeeze my lips together and squash my cheeks into a weird position. That’s how I concentrate. My brain must hate me because it messes with my speech too. I sometimes talk really fast, and sometimes really slow. If I were to be a star, it would be brown and mushy and dull. Not shiny at all. I would never be able to shine. Why? Because I’m not normal.
Today, I went to school like any other day. I guess my mom is scared that I’ll faint or something when I’m in school, so she drops me off in my classroom. In my old school, there was a special class for kids like that, but in this stupid school, everyone with special disabilities was put in random classes. That’s because the school was kind of low on money, and no teachers wanted to work with us dumb kids, I guess.
I sometimes make shrieking noises during class, and it’s really embarrassing. Some people complain, saying they can’t concentrate because of me. Others keep quiet, staring away. Some cover their mouths to try not to laugh. The ones I hate most are the ones that glare at me. Now that really makes me feel bad. Even the people that cry, “Alice! Shut up!” isn’t that bad compared to them.
The teacher, Mrs. Morris, is real nice. She doesn’t care if I drool or squint or kick. She keeps teaching as if she’s taught a classroom of monkeys before. She lets me read at recess and lunch, because heck, I love reading. I can’t hold a book straight or even turn the page, so she bought audiobooks and let me listen to them. I listen to the tune of the voice of the reader. She, sometimes he, makes funny noises for each character, like “Ouch” or “Bam”. I learned later on those were called something like onomatopoeia. Why make it such a hard word??! Still, it’s fun.
Another reason why I read during lunch and recess is because I’m afraid. I’m afraid of hearing the word “freak” over and over, I’m afraid of everyone staring at me, and I’m afraid of the whispering and the gossips about me on the playground. They stare at me like I’m a zombie wearing a lot of makeup that juggles flutes. That would be wayyyy more interesting, don’t you think? As long as the zombie was nice. A protagonist. Another word I learned.
I also really hate the people staring at me with pity eyes. I wanted to feel brave. But I was just a deformed turtle stuck inside a shell. That’s what my mom says. Except for the deformed part.
Speaking of “deformed,” my mom has never, ever, ever, called me deformed in my life. She never said I was messed up, or born imperfect. So did my dad. My dad calls me Star, saying I’m beautiful and deserves to twinkle above all the city lights. Okay, he can be cheesy sometimes. But that phrase was beautiful to me. I just didn’t know how. How do I shine when everyone thinks I’m a soggy piece of grape that lies on the ground? How do I shine when everyone thinks I’m a dirty handkerchief that is covered with tears and snot? How do I shine when I’m not normal?
I had gone through my mom’s words all the time. I felt like I needed to hear them again. It really isn’t easy when you’re eleven.
Mom always knows when I need something, so I eyed her until she noticed.
She did. “What is it, sweetheart?” she asked softly. She turned off the TV. “Bathroom break?”
I shook my head.
Like I said earlier, I could still talk. Some people with cerebral palsy can’t talk at all, which sucks. But I talk fast and spit most of the time. “I need help.” It comes out so quiet, I didn’t know if she heard.
Again, she did. “Rough time at school?”
How’d she know? “More than that.” My voice was muffled and unclear, but I kept going. “Everywhere.”
She looked a bit confused, so I bit my lip hard and tried not to let a tear fall. “I want to be normal.” I looked down. “I don’t know how to shine.”
She finally understood. Her eyebrows lifted a bit, and then fell. Gently touching my shoulder, she whispered, “You already are shining. Going out in public in your wheelchair is tough. You need to go through all those different looks, you need to avoid and let the laughs not get to you.” She paused, letting it sink down in my brain. “Honey, I really know you are having difficult times, but look how far you’ve gotten. You’ve never missed a day of school. You’ve never asked to stay home. You’ve never cared about people watching you eat.”
“Well, I do.”
“You’ve shown everyone who you are; you’ve held your head up high.”
She interrupted me. “You’ve grown so much, Alice.” A tear fell out of one eye. My heart pounded, letting my lips quiver up and down as my vision got blurry from the tears. “I’m so lucky to be your mother.”
“I’m so lucky I’m your daughter.”
“Now,” she said. “You understand what I mean by shining? You aren’t a star because you are normal. You aren’t a star because you are perfect. No one is. You are a star because you are… you. You are amazing, kind, and you are the brightest. You try your best to succeed, and again, you lift your head up high. You are brave and compassionate. That’s what makes you a star. A wonderful one.”
“I get it.”
“I know you do.” She kissed my forehead.
I let the words echo inside my soul before I started to doze in my wheelchair.
Diary, I’ve decided to name you Star. Even though Dad calls me that, I’ve already got a name. It’s Alice. Alice Blue. And it seems so not formal to call you Diary over and over. I think I should name you Star, just the way my mom named me Alice. I love you, and I will treasure you forever.
“You’re a shining star, no matter who you are. Shining bright to see, what you can truly be.”
"Shine bright, be yourself."
"Shine bright like a diamond
We're beautiful like diamonds in the sky."