I started going to church when I was eight. If you've kept up with me you know eight was a big year for me. It was the year I really began to understand what it meant to be adopted. It was the year I started drawing and writing. It was also the year I tried to kill myself for the first time.
Going to church was my idea. Both of my "parents" had been raised by (their own) religious parents. Neither of them had any desire to ever go to church, and they never went with me. We didn't pray at home. My "mother" scoffed at me when I asked if we could say grace before our meals. "I have to say grace at your Nana's at Thanksgiving and Christmas," she snapped at me, "and that's plenty."
"But mama, don't you believe in God?"
"Of course I do. But that doesn't mean I want to talk about him every day."
Don't get me wrong, she supported me going to church in that she got up to drive me and pick me up every Sunday, and never hesitated to give me cash to put in the offering plate or to participate in church activities, but neither of my "parents" ever went to church with me. Not even after I took confirmation classes and was baptized into the church at thirteen.
But they did send me to church camp and youth fellowship, and my "mom" did drive me and my baked goods to bake sales, crafts to craft bees, and casseroles to church buffets. Keeping in mind she didn't help me make anything, she'd take me to the store and buy supplies, but production and quality control was up to me.
That was all the participation I got in my faith. The same level of interest in anything I really cared about... Almost none, as long as they weren't disturbed or incommoded in any way.
When I started confirmation classes, I also started counseling sessions with my pastor, as did all the other participants. Mostly I used to vent about my "mom and dad". How they didn't get it, they didn't understand me or support any of the activities I loved. He told me all teenagers felt that way. By the time I was fourteen, I'd had enough of these platitudes.
I told him all teenagers didn't feel the way I felt, because I'm adopted. (I already knew by that point in my life that I had a lot of shit to deal with that none of my kept friends could relate to.) He asked me, "What does being adopted have to do with anything?"
"I feel different from everyone else. I don't look like anyone in my family. I don't know who I look like. I don't fit in with my family. I don't fit in at school. I don't fit in anywhere."
He thought about it for a second, then said the words that destroyed my faith forever. "Sweetie, if god wanted you to be with your real parents, you would be. It's god's will that you were taken in by Jane and Bill, and that you live here now. It was god's will for you to be adopted."
I leapt from my chair, snapping, "You have NO IDEA what happens in that house!" And stormed from the church, never to return, except to the basement for the occasional school dance.
It was god's will that I was adopted. I was supposed to live with this psychotic bitch who wanted me to be her parent, her best friend, and her housekeeper, who beat and berated me for not doing any of those things right. I was supposed to be with a woman who wouldn't speak to me for days at a time if I displeased her. I was supposed to be with these people who belittled my real parents, calling them white trash and neglectful junkies, who ridiculed my dreams and passions, and expected academic and domestic perfection from me. I was supposed to be with these people who constantly reminded me I wasn't one if them and threatened to "send you back to the gutter they found you in" when I messed up.
If this was what God had chosen for me, I decided, I wanted nothing more to do with him. If this was his "divine plan", I would make my own plan.
I wandered through religions until my mid twenties, reading texts, travelling the world, exploring different countries and beliefs. I found them all to be relatively similar. No comfort, no faith, just lots of expectation and dogma for almost no reward.
I'm an atheist now. I find truth, honesty, and pragmatism very comforting. There isn't room for any of those things in adoptionland.