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“What does adoption mean to a child?”

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Adopting through American Adoptions as an Adoptee

Allison’s Story

I was adopted at 5 days old, straight from the hospital in 1979. It was a closed adoption, with only a short one-pager provided about my birth parents. It was also a “baby born” call for my adoptive parents.  They were overjoyed and very surprised, since they had adopted my brother (no biological relation) only one-and-a-half years earlier, and the adoption agency told them that they would have to wait years for a second child. My mom used to tell me the story of calling her father on the way to the hospital asking him to buy a crib and set it up so that they would have one ready when they brought me home.

My Early Experiences as an Adoptee

I grew up curious about my biological family, just like most adoptees. Wondering what my birth mother looked like, acted like, sounded like, etc. and if I had any of those traits. Overall, I was proud to be adopted. It made me feel special and unique. I grew up with the “where did you come from” books that were about adoption.  They highlighted, and perhaps overemphasized, how special it was to be adopted. In fact, when I was in first grade, I had a friend over who left crying after reading one of the books because she wasn’t adopted and felt left out.

Adoption has always been a key part of my life. My brother, on the other hand, had a harder time with it. He was bullied when he was younger and teased for being adopted. Now that he is older we talk about adoption and our feelings around it.  He also talks about it with his children to make them aware of his experiences. So it’s important to know that every child, even coming out of the same home, can have different experiences and feelings toward adoption.

Choosing to Search

When I hit my late 20s, I felt a calling to find my birth mother. I wanted her to know that I had a good life, and that if she ever wondered or was concerned about me, that from my standpoint it had been the right decision. I didn’t want to burden her with more than she was ready for (e.g., a relationship, heavy questions, etc.), but instead I just wanted to thank her and tell her that I was doing well.

So I went through the really long process that my state had created to keep this information private and closed. I contacted the adoption agency, went through the social worker assigned by the state, followed the red tape requirements, and even had to pay a lawyer to finally meet my birth mother in-person years later. This search took a toll on me mentally, emotionally, and financially.

Out of respect to my birth mother’s privacy, I’m not going to write much about that meeting or our relationship. I will just say that it was a lovely meeting. I found out that I have a biological sister that was also adopted. I found out that the very obscure profession that I chose (Statistician) was my maternal grandfather’s job as well. I did not learn much about our family medical history and she did not feel comfortable discussing my biological father. That meeting left me with many questions and emotions, but I always look back on it fondly.

My Husband — a Fellow Adoptee

Years later I met my husband, Seth. He is also adopted, but in a different manner. His mother was young when she got pregnant from a casual dating relationship. They decided to part ways and she became a single mom. Seth’s birth father wanted privacy and similarly did not have a desire for a relationship. Soon afterward Seth’s mom met Jim, who later became Seth’s dad through adoption. Jim is a wonderful man and father. Seth grew up in a home with love, fun, structure, stability, and two other siblings.

Jim plays several instruments and is musically gifted. For our wedding he wrote us a song. The song talked about when he first took Seth out all by himself as a new father. How nervous he was when he put Seth in a backpack and took him on a hike up the Flatirons in Colorado. In this song, Jim sang about the promise that he made that day to Seth as a little baby; to always love, care for, and protect him. Jim then connected that in the song to Seth proposing to me on the top of those Flatirons in Colorado and making me that same promise.

Paying it Forward — Our Own Journey to Adopt

Seth and I are currently an active family with American Adoptions waiting for a prospective Birth Mom to want that connection with us. From our experiences growing up with closed adoptions that involved lots of privacy, we are excited for an open adoption. We look forward to our future child’s birth family being an extension of our own family.

In our letter to the Birth Mom of our future child, we highlight this special relationship that we are looking for. We want this child to be excited and proud to have two families. I look forward to when we can update this article with the picture of this full extended family — birth and adoptive.

 

 
 

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