An Interview With An Adoptee: What My Parents Did Right

Eryn shares her advice for supporting your adopted child.

Natalie Brenner December 15, 2016
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As I pour the cream into my mug of coffee, I am beyond thrilled and excited to have a virtual and public coffee date with Eryn, an adoptee. As a mama by adoption, I am always questioning if I am doing anything right for my kids.

I am always praying and hoping that I don’t screw up my son’s identity. My hope is that he would grow knowing I love him just the same as I love his brother, who happens to share my biology. My desire as his mama is that he would know without a doubt that he belongs with us and that we are a real family.

A goal as his parents, and any future children via adoption, is that they would know how beautiful adoption is, how deeply wanted they are, and how unique their story is in the most amazing ways. But also that they don’t live their entire life feeling like their entire identity is “adopted.” They are so much more than that.

Eryn was placed with her family and adopted at birth; she describes her family as “tremendously loving and supportive.” As she grew, she knew she was adopted. When she was six, her brother joined their family, also via adoption. She recalls that her parents always reminded them that they would support any desire to search for their biological families.

Eryn shared with me that at the age of 17, her mom agreed to assist her in tracking down her biological family. Her mom shared with her that she knew of two biological sisters Eryn had through her biological parents. Eryn’s biological father was put in prison while her biological mom was pregnant.

So here we are, you and me. Eryn is open to sharing her experience as an adoptee and we are all ears to listen and read. The questions are unending, but I will do my best to ask only the most pertinent.

Q: What did your parents do that you feel made the biggest impact in making you feel secure, confident, and proud of your story? Is there anything else you wish they had done?

Eryn: My parents empowered me and NEVER made me feel different [because] I was adopted. My parents could not conceive children, but desperately wanted to be parents and they are truly amazing. It takes courage, as an [adoptive] mom and dad, to be comfortable and supportive when your child comes to you and says, “I want to find my birth family” and guide them through that process.”

How can we celebrate our children’s adoptions and our journeys to them, while also not constantly placing that as the key of their identity?

Eryn: Tell them how thankful you are that they were placed with you, that your family would not be complete without them. Don’t make the word “adoption” be a bad word, let it be celebrated.

What is your earliest memory of feeling like you didn’t belong (if at all), and how did your parents handle that situation? Is there anything your parents could have done differently?

Eryn: I always felt as though I belonged. The only times it would hit me was seeing families that had such strong resemblances. That made me wonder who I looked like, if I looked more like my birth mom or birth dad.

What are the three best traits your parents instilled in your upbringing?

Eryn: We were a family of faith. My dad was a Methodist minister and I grew up in the church since I was just days old. He jokes that the communion tray would be passed one way, and I was being passed the other. My parents taught me to be kind, to listen, and never judge. My mom taught me patience; she’s probably the most patient person I’ve ever met!

Do you ever remember being told you were adopted or was it a known part of your story from the get go? How often did you talk about it as a family? Were the conversations ever forced and awkward, or just natural?

Eryn: My brother and I always knew, it was never a secret. Conversations around our adoptions happened organically and we were always free to ask questions.

How did your family interact with / talk about / treat your biological family?

Eryn: This is probably my favorite part of my adoption journey. I met my birth mom just a matter of a few months after my search began. My mom, stepdad, and brother joined me and we celebrated together! Our reunion was filled with laughter, so much laughter, tears of joy and a feeling of relief. My birth mom gave my mom a hug and thanked her for raising me, and they are good friends now. Our birth mom placed all three of us for adoption and never thought she’d see us again. Today she has all three of us girls in her life and all our children call her “Grandma.”

What was the hardest part/season of life growing up as an adoptee? How did your parents help you navigate through that time?

 Eryn: For me personally, nothing was ever difficult about being adopted. I felt very blessed to have the family I did. I think I accepted my adoption at a very young age, and to that I credit my parents for their openness and honesty about our stories.

Lastly, what is something you hope all [adoptive] parents would hear, listen to, and know? Something that your parents modeled that all adoptive parents would do well to model?

Eryn: Be open and honest with your child about their adoption. Listen to them when they want to talk and don’t ever judge them. Talking to your child about their adoption helps them cope with it, accept it, and it helps them develop their feelings around it. Be emotionally available. Through all of this, my love for my family never wavered. I felt honored that they stood by me. Yes, I reunited with my birth family and we are very close, but it never took away from my family that raised me, loved me and stood by me. I have an extended family now, and I’m fortunate that they all get along and can have a healthy relationship, it makes it all so much more beautiful.

Jen, Eryn's birth mother, and Eryn

Jen, Eryn’s sister, and Eryn

Thank you, Eryn, for joining us and sharing your heart regarding your family, your birth family, and your adoption! It is always an honor to hear from adoptees.

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Natalie Brenner

Natalie Brenner is wife to Loren and mom to two under two, living in Portland, Oregon. She is the best-selling author of This Undeserved Life. She likes her wine red, ice cream served by the pint, and conversations vulnerable. Natalie believes in the impossible and hopes to create safe spaces for every fractured soul. She's addicted to honesty and believes grief is the avenue to wholeness. Natalie is a bookworm, a speaker, and a lover of fall. Connect with her at NatalieBrennerWrites.com and join her email community.


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