One of the most revealing conversations I’ve ever heard of regarding adoption took place between my brother and a young man who used to be our next door neighbor.

My family lived in South Carolina when I was young, and being a military family, we moved around a lot. Years later, when my brother was in the military, he found himself stationed back in South Carolina near where we lived years before. One day he packed his camera, loaded up his family, and drove to the neighborhood where we used to romp as kids. While he was out in front of our old house snapping off nostalgic pictures of the little brick building he hadn’t seen since he was seven years old, the neighbor came out to spark up a conversation.

“I remember you,” my brother said once he realized who the young man was. “I remember when your parents brought you home. I remember when you were adopted.”

My brother was excited about the topic because, to him, adoption was something to celebrate. Adoption was something to be proud of. But, to his surprise, the young man shot down his excitement.

“No,” the young man said, “I wasn’t adopted.”

“Oh, I must have you confused with the people who lived here before you,” my brother said.

“Nope,” he shook his head. “My parents have lived here for 30 years, and I don’t think anyone else in the neighborhood was adopted, either.”

The math added up. He was just the right age to be the young man my brother remembered being adopted. So when he got back home, he dialed my parents’ phone number and asked them if he was mistaken. He wasn’t. All the pieces fit together and my parents confirmed it 100%.

I don’t know what happened after their conversation– if the young man went and asked his parents about it or if he just brushed it off like nothing. If indeed that sparked his inquiring mind, that would be quite the shock and revelation about his personal history to find out that way.

Times are different now. Sure, each family is entitled and expected to make their own decisions about whether or not an adoption should be open or closed, and it’s not wise in all situations for adoptions to be open, but one thing seems very different to me with regards to adoption philosophy– adoption is not only something that doesn’t need to be hidden, it’s now something to be proud of. Adoption is one of the most wonderful things in this world. It gives opportunity for birth parents to continue with their life until the time is right for them to have their own family. It gives adoptive couples the chance to fill their home with the pitter-patter of little feet when they’re not able to do it biologically.

And, perhaps most importantly, it gives adopted children a loving home where they are cherished with the love they deserve. Adoption is not abandonment; it’s going from one set of loving hands to another. It’s not something to keep hushed up and secret but is something to be proud of. It’s something to cherish, no matter what part of the adoption triad you belong to. Adoption is one of the most beautiful things this world has to offer. Hooray for adoption.