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“What does adoption mean to a child?”

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Jennifer's Story (Jennifer is an Adoption Specialist)

How To Contact Jennifer

If you would like to talk to me please call
1-800-Adoption and ask for Jennifer or e-mail me at

Thirty years ago I was given the most awesome gift: my family. I know it sounds odd, but my birth mother decided that placing me for adoption was the best choice for both of us. I still can’t imagine all she went through to come to that selfless decision.

My mom was working as a nurse at a local hospital, so my dad was home alone with my brother when he got the call. It was happening. My parents could come to the agency the next day to meet their baby girl. (That was me!) They had been waiting three years for that call, and they were frantic, pulling cribs out of the attic to get ready for my arrival. My brother, who was 9, was pretty psyched too.My brother is my parents’ biological son, but my mom had complications from his birth that rendered her unable to have any more biological children.

Within four months, I became very sick and had to go to the hospital, where they discovered I had been born with a congenital heart defect. How ironic is it that I was adopted by a nurse?! My family went through so much with me that year, but it was all worth it.

People often ask if there is a difference between the way my parents treated my brother and I, since he was biologically their child. I always tell them the same thing: “No! My parents actually liked me better!” We were honestly treated the same. I was daddy’s little girl and he was a momma’s boy. He treated me just like any other annoying younger sister. Now that we are older we are very close, and I have enjoyed being a part of his new family!

I don’t know much about my birth mother. I was adopted in a time when adoptions were closed. She was able to hold me briefly at the hospital, and then she left without having met the adoptive family. She didn’t get to have that communication with my parents to know what they were like or what my life would be like with them. She got no closure.

I  do have an amazing letter from my biological mother. She explained to me in detail our 9 months together, how she said good bye to me and all the hopes she had for me. I can only imagine she would be proud of me as I currently am an Adoption Specialist helping other women just like her. I have not made contact with my biological mother because I am not ready for that step in my life.

My parents have always made me feel special because I was adopted, but I do admit that I had a lot of questions growing up. From a medical standpoint, my health history ends when I was born. I don’t have anything else beyond that. And now that I have two children, some of their health history is missing. There are now other people who are affected by that missing knowledge as they grow older.

I also wish I knew that my biological mother was okay. Part of what’s best for a baby is everybody having a healthy adoption process, and I don’t know if my birth mom had that. It was wonderful for my parents and I, but I hope it was okay for her too.

I became and Adoption Specialist because of the large role adoption has always played in my life. I found my social worker’s name on some paperwork when I was younger, and I knew I wanted to do for someone what she did for me. I went to school to be a social worker, and I went to grad school because I knew a master’s degree would really help me in adoption. I really do feel strongly that adoption is a great gift to give, and I think sometimes people think that gift is just for the adoptive family and the baby. And it is a great gift to them; they’re becoming a family! But it’s a gift for the birth mom too, especially if you can give her comfort in a time that must be very painful.

When I became a mother — both for the first and the second time — it helped me to understand what it means to be a mom and how difficult it must have been for my birth mother to say goodbye to me. She has truly given me the gift of life, and for that, I will forever be thankful.


How To Contact Jennifer Van Gundy

If you would like to talk to me please call
1-800-Adoption and ask for Jennifer or e-mail me at

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