Sharing My Story
“When Love What Matters approached me and asked me to write a piece about adoption, I was truly humbled. It’s taken me a little longer than planned to write this because life catches up to us all and we want to make sure we practice the pause and pace ourselves. I have so much to say, and so little time to say it. I will start with a little bit about me. I am both a full-time and part-time employee. I am a mom of 2 (one beautiful 4-year-old girl and one dog). In just two short months, both my biological and adoptive father will be walking me down the aisle. I have a budding nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the stigma surrounding mental health and mental illness, and a plethora of other business ideas. So, to put it lightly, I have had a lot going on. The same week Love What Matters approached me, I had the chance to talk to NPR Nashville and speak about my views on the overturn of Roe v. Wade as an adoptee. This was a great platform to briefly speak about my story, but I was excited to have the opportunity to really tell my story through writing. Writing is my strong suit.
Since the overturn of Roe v. Wade, I have done much pondering on how to reach the pro-life movement in the most loving way possible. I share my story not to stir up anger, but to instead spark much-needed conversations. I don’t pretend to know all there is to know about politics; I don’t identify as a democrat or republican. I get everyone has their own political and moral compass, but these two things should never be mixed, and your spiritual journey and beliefs are yours and should never be forced onto anyone else. No matter what you believe. By taking away safe and affordable access to healthcare, you compromise the lives of many, especially those in minority communities. I am tired of adoption being used by the pro-life movement as a substitute for abortion when there are 400,000 kids in foster care. I am tired of all this pro-life talk and policy change when we can’t seem to even make or agree on policies to keep children alive and safe while they are in school.
We don’t want to allow women to be the rulers of their bodies or trust that the decision they are making is what’s in the best interest of all involved. I am deeply saddened to see that adoption is painted as some fairytale ending story/sales transaction when there are deep complexities to adoption. It is not black and white. As an adoptee, I know trauma, pain, and suffering. A lot of my issues come from the fact I was adopted. This piece has given me the chance to focus on how much adoption has truly helped me realize my purpose in life, figure out who I am as a person, and how I can use my story to help others. How beautiful is divine timing? I have been given the opportunity to flex my throat chakra and speak my truth.
I was born in Tennessee and was adopted as a biracial child into an all-white family. At that time, adopting a biracial child was considered a special needs placement. This means my parents took on an extraordinary person. They knew their child would need to be given all the extra special tools to help them step into their power. One of the most powerful being unconditional love. I have always taken pride in the way my family has presented itself. The Kreykes Clan really is top tier. We are all very smart and have a deep love for the earth in our own unique way. Some of my fondest memories are those of floating down a river in a canoe at the age of 3, without a care in the world. The rest of my adoptive family — my mom, my dad, brother, and sister — enjoy the extreme side of mother nature. To give you an example, my adoptive dad, who just turned 61 today, is off in Canada with my mom and brother.
My brother and dad are doing a 3oo mile trek down a river while my mom skips through campsites and watches gorgeous sunsets. While I am not this avid of an outdoorsman, I do find the practice of grounding to be very beneficial to my mental health. I have learned the sun is medicine. There is something very healing about the Earth, and my adoptive family taught me this. Even though I don’t express it as much as I could, they have taught me so much and have given me the opportunity to travel and see much of the world.
Pain And Heartbreak Of Adoption
My parents know the pain and heartbreak adoption brings. They know it is a complex, and in some ways, deeply painful process. Not just the challenge of raising a child who isn’t your own, but also raising a child who was, statistically speaking, almost twice as likely to suffer from mood disorders like anxiety, depression, and behavioral issues than children raised by both biological parents. I fell into this category and have battled with anxiety, depression, ADD, and mild borderline personality disorder. I battle identity issues. I never feel black enough or white enough leaving me to question who I am. I have developed a fear of abandonment and codependent issues because I was separated from my biological mother as an infant and never knew my biological father growing up.
Relationships have never come easy to me and there was a good portion of my life I was in and out of toxic and abusive relationships. Growing up, my adoptive family had many resources in healthcare, particularly mental health resources, available to help me get through my issues, from childhood into adulthood. Once I moved out of my parents’ house, I began to feel the struggle that comes with being a single mother. I struggled financially and therapy no longer became an option because of my financial situation.
I began to utilize all the tools and skills to help me find my power back. I want to pass these skills along, not only to my daughter but to the world as well. This has been a big inspiration to start a nonprofit. Okoa Mental Health works to end the stigma surrounding mental health and mental illness, particularly among minority communities. I am engaged with the man of my dreams who has opened my eyes to the disparities within the healthcare system and the need for better resources within these communities and within the justice system. We both have a special mission to bring so much unconditional love, compassion, and healing into this world.
My adoptive parents also experienced the heartbreak that can come with adoption. Everything had been settled with the adoption agency, and they got the call I was being born. They rushed to the hospital to see me. However, at the last minute, my biological mom decided to keep me. My parents were devastated. They had been waiting for me for months, just to be told they would no longer be able to adopt me. I talk to my adoptive mom about this, and she tells me it was as though there was a death in the family. My biological mom tried to be a mother for a few months. She then made the ultimate sacrifice and decided to officially proceed with the adoption. I cannot imagine the pain my biological mother must have felt. If I could speak to her now, I would tell her I am proud of her for following her heart.
Growing Into Myself
In 2015, I posted a picture on Facebook asking them to help me find my biological parents. My adoptive mom helped me make it. It went viral and within a few weeks, I had found both my families. I was able to meet the extended family on my mom’s side and meet my biological father as well. He and I keep in touch, and even though we are both extremely busy, are working to build a relationship. He will also be walking me down the aisle in a few short weeks. Then, a few weeks ago over the 4th of July weekend, I got to meet my great aunt and cousin on my biological dad’s side. Getting to know the other side of who you are at 29 years is absolutely insane. I have dreamed about moments like this for my whole life. I am truly being reborn in a lot of ways. I love who I am becoming, even though it is, at times, absolutely terrifying.
My name is Janelle, which means ‘God is merciful.’ One thing I have learned from my adoptive parents is the power of releasing everyone to their own journeys. They have let both me and my two adoptive siblings grow into who the Creator made us to in individually. Everyone is on different timelines of healing. My biological mother had two abortions before me, and that was her choice. She then chose to give me up for adoption, and guess what? God had mercy on her every single time. My Creator is one of compassion and mercy, but also a Creator of free will. The divine feminine knows her power; do not try and diminish or dismiss her story because of your beliefs.
So, on behalf of at least one adoptee, please do not put words in our mouths. We are here, and we have opinions of our own. Please do not diminish our voices to, ‘At least your mom chose life.’ We never said we weren’t grateful that she chose life. But our journeys are not everyone’s journeys, and your opinions are not necessarily ours. Adoption is not black and white; it is gloriously mixed up and sometimes a little messy, as such is life.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Janelle Kreykes. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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