An Adoptee’s Perspective

What it's like to grow up adopted.

Rebecca Tillou April 29, 2014
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The day is January 12, 1980. The hospital is Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, New Jersey. The time is 1:06 a.m. A baby girl is brought into the world. Her mother may have held her briefly, felt her little body against her own for a moment’s time. And she may not have. Her mother may have decided to not hold her at all. The nurse could have immediately taken her away, because the pain was too great. Only the mother and the nurses know what happened that morning.

The baby was taken into a foster home in Ridgewood, New Jersey where she stayed for a month. On February 13, 1980, in Ellicott City, Maryland, a family received a phone call from an adoption agency. There was a baby girl waiting to become part of a family. The call came as a surprise. Two years prior to this phone call, the adoptive family had suffered the loss of their one week old daughter. They had turned to adoption in November of 1979, but had not expected a miracle so soon.  On February 14, 1980, that baby girl became part of a family. That baby girl was me. (The picture above is an image taken on February 13, 1980– the day I first met my parents and brother.)

When I was 4 years old, my parents sat me down and told me that I was adopted. I understood as much as a 4 year old could, and went on with my life as if nothing had been discussed. At the age of 6, I gained an understanding that my adoptive mom  did not give birth to me. But my adoptive family was still my family. During my middle school years I began to question who I was, and who my birth parents were. I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about being adopted, but certain events triggered questions. My birthday and adoption day were two days I felt thankful to my family for, but hints of wonder and sadness would enter my mind. I wondered, “Does my birth mom think of me? What is she doing now? Why did she give me away? If I hadn’t been adopted, how would my life be different?”

As major events have happened in my life, these questions have been in the forefront of my mind. At my school graduations and at my wedding, I couldn’t help but wonder what my birth mom would think. Would she be proud? These thoughts have remained with me, but have become more prominent as I have gotten older. Now, at 33 years old, these thoughts are a daily occurrence.

I have had conversations with people that don’t understand why these thoughts are so prevalent in my mind since I was adopted at such a young age. No matter what age you are adopted, the facts are still the same: Your birth mother made a choice to give you up. You may know why, you may not. If you don’t know, you may wonder your whole life. In some cases–as in mine–you don’t know your medical history, who your biological family is, or where you got your physical traits from. I felt like a puzzle with pieces missing.

The most recent event that has had me thinking about my birth family is the birth of my second son, now 18 months old. He is the second genetic tie I have ever identified with. One day, I may discover genetic ties to my birth family. Until that day, I will be thankful for the wonderful family I was adopted into, and the selfless choice my birth mom made in the early hours of January 12, 1980.

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Rebecca Tillou

Rebecca was adopted as an infant. She found her birth family in May of 2013 and continues to keep in touch with them. Sadly, her birth mother passed away in 1999. She and her husband live in New York and are the parents of two beautiful little boys, Dominic and Nicolas. They also have a German Shepherd mix named Chester. She was recently diagnosed with FASD at 34 years of age. She is currently working with nofas.org and thearg.org to get the word out that there is hope, and that you are never too old to better yourself.


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