For adoption awareness month, I asked two of my friends to be guest bloggers and share their adoption story. Up first is Beth, who was adopted as an infant. Beth has been a mentor to Marlon and I from the beginning. Over cocktails a long time ago, she said "have you considered adoption, because I was adopted." She has answered countless questions for us. I know not every adoption story is the same, but talking to Beth really changed things for me. Thank you, Beth. Here's her story...
I have always known that I was adopted. It was important to my parents that they be honest with us from a young age, so we would know our history. My brother is 3 years older than me and does not have the same birth parents, although that distinction never enters my mind until people find out that we are adopted and usually ask if we are blood siblings. I never mind answering questions about being adopted because it is a part of who I am and I view myself as very fortunate, so I am happy to share my story with others.
Sadly, my mother miscarried at nine months with twins, which resulted in her being unable to conceive again. Both she and my father have told me that they had lengthy discussions about what to do after this tragedy. They wondered if it was a sign from God that they should live a life without children. That wasn’t what they truly desired in their hearts, so they contacted Catholic Social Services to inquire about adoption. They adopted my brother in 1972 and I followed in 1975. They have always said it was the best decision they have ever made.
I don’t know a lot about my birth parents. Adoptions were closed in the year I was born, so it would take a court order and/or a private detective to obtain any significant information. This is one thing that has bothered me about my adoption process. For example, if you know there is a history of breast cancer in your family, it will assist you in making certain heath decisions. I did explore this to a certain extent when I was having some health issues my freshman year of college. After making a request to the State of Michigan, I did receive some very general information about my birth family, but not very much. I should note that my parents were 100% supportive during this process and they had always told me they would help me explore anything about my birth parents if I so desired. Naturally, I was concerned about their feelings if I took them up on this offer, as I didn’t want to hurt them in any way. That very offer and the complete support I received when I decided to delve into my background exemplifies the compassionate character of my parents.
From the paperwork I received, I know that my birth mother was 16 years old when she had me and it didn’t sound as if she and my birth father were seriously dating, although he was notified of the birth. The biggest question that I am asked by people is whether or not I have any interest in finding my birth parents. I have gone through phases in my life where I have contemplated this and must admit that I have a stronger interest in my birth mother than my birth father, mainly because she carried me, delivered me, and then had to give me away. It must have been an incredibly difficult decision for her. In addition to inquiring about my health history, the main reason I would want to meet her is simply to thank her and tell her that I believe she made the right decision. There is something to be said about the nature versus nurture theory. There are definitely traits that I believe I was born with and those that came with my family upbringing and the values that I was taught. I have to imagine my birth mother is an emotional person like me and that she often wonders if I ended up in the right family. I am sure she would be grateful to know that she fulfilled the hearts and dreams of my parents and blessed my life by placing me with my family.
I have also heard some people that are contemplating adoption express their fear in whether their adopted children will love them in the same way a child loves their biological parents and vice-versa. I truly don’t believe there is any difference. For me, my parents are those people that gave me nourishment as an infant, wiped my tomboy scraped knees when I was constantly falling as I tried to keep up with my brother, taking me on memorable vacations to Cedar Point, Canada and Mackinaw Island, counseling me at all hours of the night when I would call crying because I had my heart broken by a boy, and more instances that I can even begin to list in this blog. They are the ones who have always provided me with unconditional love…even when I know I severely tested their patienceJ They gave me financial and emotional support to pursue all of my dreams and shaped me into the person that I am today. I was brought up in a loving home where there were constant hugs, laughs, endless support and the words “I love you” were frequently spoken. My birth parents gave me life, but my Mom and Dad are my parents.
Personally, I have never had challenges as an adopted child in terms of feeling abandoned or unwanted. I believe that my birth mother couldn’t handle being a mother at such a young age and she gave me up praying that my family would love and nurture me into healthy and happy person. Her prayers were answered. My advice for parents of adopted children is to be honest with them. There is absolutely no shame in being adopted. When parents hide it from kids and they find out about it later on in life, they are led to feel that there must be some type of shame, otherwise it wouldn’t have been kept as a secret. Kids should know where they come from and how adopted parents endure months and sometimes years of waiting for their child/children, while never giving up hope that their family will come to them when the time was right. If your child is curious and wants to know more, support them with that effort. I promise it is not a negative reflection upon you as parents.
Apparently, I was often eager to point to my Mom and tell people, “I didn’t come from my Mommy’s belly.” As a child, I loved attention and telling people this fact was just another way for me to get it. My brother, on the other hand was shy and my Mom said he hated it when I would randomly make these announcements. On the topic of a mommy’s belly, I want to share a quote about adoption that exemplifies what my Mom experienced and Jenn is surely feeling as she waits for her little one.
“Adoption is when a child grew in its Mommy’s heart instead of her tummy.”
When I met Jenn and Marlon many years ago and we began talking about adoption, I was happy to give them my perspective and offer my support. I also knew they would be wonderful parents. They have been a solid couple from the moment they met at a young age and have a very strong and happy marriage. I have no doubt that they will be incredibly responsible, loving, and fun parents. This child will certainly be lucky in the same way I have been blessed.
Best wishes to Jenn and Marlon! I can’t wait to meet your little baby once he/she finally enters this world and makes his/her way to your arms and hearts J Lots of Love, Beth