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Survival Mode

Survival Mode

As Told To L’Oreal Thompson Payton

Before the Rev. Steven Eugene Carter discovered his passion for preaching, he was dealing with emotional trauma from his childhood. Now, the 39-year-old senior pastor of the Mount Ararat Baptist Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., shares his story about being adopted in his book Resurrection from Rejection: Healing from 7 Areas of Rejection in Your Life. Here, Carter describes how he found purpose in his pain.

I was supposed to die 39 years ago. Born prematurely with a hole in my heart, I had five surgeries within my first six months of life. My biological parents deserted me at a Queens, N.Y., hospital. I didn’t know about the desertion until I was 13, when my adoptive aunt told me that if my parents ask me to do anything, I should do it because they didn’t have to adopt me. I had no idea that I had not been born to the people I knew as my father and mother. Not only did I feel abandoned by my birth parents, but I also felt betrayed by the couple who adopted me. I felt alone and as if I could not trust anyone, and so I reacted in the way any teenage boy would: I rebelled.

I joined a gang hoping to find acceptance. I believed that if my biological parents had given me up, there was no way my adoptive parents wanted me. But I was wrong.

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My father told me point-blank: “There’s nothing you can do that will cause us to part. You’re here. You’re our child.”

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