“I am adopted. This is a phrase I have said hundreds of times in my life. When I’m at a new doctor and they want my family history: I am adopted. When my kid’s doctor wants a family history on his maternal side: I don’t know. I’m adopted. When someone comments on how I look nothing like my little sister: It’s because I’m adopted.
Don’t get me wrong–I love talking about it, I love telling people my story. It’s just my way of life. These simple words have opened up so many different conversations and connections and pathways for me. There has never been a time in my life when I didn’t know I was adopted, that I was chosen.
My story is a simple one.
Though I don’t have many details surrounding the exact circumstances of my entering into this world, I do know my birth mother was a 20-year-old who was not yet ready to raise a child, but was willing to grow and keep a baby safe for nine months. She was generous and gracious enough to send me into the arms of a couple that had been waiting years for me. My mom and dad had struggled with infertility and after a casual conversation about adoption with her OBGYN, the wheels of our collective fate began to turn.
My entire life is a love letter I’ve been writing to my birth mother and to my mom and dad. I try to live each day with intention, to be kind to others, to smile, to be open to new opportunities. I am very aware that my life was a gift given to me by these three people and I do not intend to waste it.
I had such a lovely childhood. I grew up in a home where women were loved and respected. I was encouraged to play sports and musical instruments. (Although, after a T-ball incident where the team lost after I missed a fly ball in the outfield because I was more interested in pulling out one of my teeth–I decided I should focus on individual, rather than team, sports.) Most nights we sat down and ate as a family, and always celebrated and loved holidays. We went to the movies. I grew up at home where I always knew I was loved.
Life wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies. I really embraced the ‘teenage angst’ role. There was door slamming, and fit throwing, missing curfews, and getting grounded more times than any of my friends. I would try to use the old ‘nature vs. nurture’ excuse but my mom never fell for it, and I continued to be grounded. I think if you asked my mom and dad, they’d both agree that those tears in their eyes when they left me at my dorm my freshman year of college were not tears of sadness because they were leaving me, they were tears of joy that they survived.
I often think about what I would say to my birth mother if we were to ever meet. I also spend many nights, as I wait for sleep, thinking about all the things I want my mom and dad to know.
To my birth mother: I don’t think that we will ever meet, but I already know you. I have your blood running through my veins, your curly hair, your laugh. I have your messiness (hello, nature vs. nurture) and your feisty attitude. But I also like to think I inherited a ‘kind and generous’ gene from you. After growing my babies inside of me and watching them come into the world two times over, I now understand the weight of what you did for me–choosing to keep me safe those long nine months, every scream you let out and every aching pain you felt while bringing me into the world, bearing the burden of giving your child a future by giving her away–for all that and more I thank you. I love you and I thank you.
And to my mom and dad: At Christmas you always say you don’t want any gifts, that you have everything you need. Well, this is my gift to you. Thank you for choosing me, for waiting and for keeping your hearts open and for saying yes when that call came. Thank you for renting a VCR every weekend and watching Annie with me over and over until your ears bled. Thank you for encouraging me to spend time outside–for letting me run loose in the the woods by our house, and for the bonfires and park time.
Thank you for making sure I had a lasting relationship with both sets of my grandparents and all of my aunts and uncles and cousins. Thank you for giving me a sister, a best friend for life.
Thank you for sending me to Camp Olson every summer– it changed the trajectory of my life. Thank you for sending me to college, for paying for my early cell phone bills, for helping me move to a new apartment ten times in nine years. Thank you for giving me my sense of humor and for teaching me that with freedom, comes responsibility. Thank you for instilling a deep love for the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Beatles and and Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper.
You taught me to stop and admire my work after a long day of mowing the lawn.
You accepted my husband and (not surprisingly) turned into some of the best grandparents the world has ever seen. Thank you for being the role models I base my parenting on and for supporting my family’s decision to move across the country, and for answering every phone call, every text, every FaceTime. Thank you for always knowing when I need you. Thank you for keeping me safe for 35 years and counting.
I am adopted. And I am so very lucky.”
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