(Click here to read another adoptee’s answer to this question.)
“My name is Jesse Genualdi; I was born in the state of Illinois. I am currently 19 and I was adopted. In my journey through being adopted it did create wounds which turned into scars, but healed with restoration as I began to find my true identity as a youth.”
I first met Jesse at a camp along the coast during the summer of 2011. It was not until 2014 that I learned pieces of his story, particularly pertaining to him being adopted. Jesse was adopted at birth but did not learn of his being adopted until he was four years old, when his parents sat down and led him through the very difficult conversation. He looks back on that conversation, remembering how difficult it was for his parents to share, but how brave they were to delicately handle his heart with honesty.
Growing up, Jesse did not think twice about the fact that his parents did not share the same DNA as him.
However, Jesse did wonder and wrestle through some of these very honest and valid questions about his birth parents: “Did they love me?” “Did they not want me?” “Why did they place me for adoption?”
Jesse’s older sister, who was also adopted, became a strong and influential voice in his life, encouraging healthy relationships and processing tough questions.
What a privilege it is to have him share a bit about his journey, pieces of his story, and where his heart is at in regards to his birth family:
Natalie: What level of openness was/is your adoption?
Jesse: Communication was semi-open to me with my birth parents, but my parents were also 100% open and real to me when it came to talking about my birth family. This created a bond of trust between my parents, which is essential when it comes to adoption. The relationship should always be open to talk about the child’s story as they have a right to know.
Natalie: Do you have any advice to parents who have adopted pertaining to open conversations and whether or not that relates to resentment towards a child’s birth family?
Jesse: Do not ever lie to your child about their adoption. It is not helpful and only creates distrust and rebellion in the future. Include your child’s birth parents in the child’s life progress (if they wish to be). I was able to write to my birth parents, but communication was sent through the adoption agency. My parents also sent pictures, Christmas cards, and updates with my progress in school, hobbies, interests, etc. so that my birth parents could still be a part of my life.
Jesse believe parents’ openness (or lack of) about having conversations, as well as the way a birth family is spoken about, makes a difference in a child’s view of their birth family, “but every situation or story is unique. How your child’s story of adoption is explained is to be taken with sensitivity and honesty. With me personally, I don’t resent my birth parents because I know the most important detail: they love me and this wasn’t taken lightheartedly.”
Jesse shares that he thinks enforcing the truth that the child who was adopted is loved and his placement was motivated by love is incredibly important. “The key, no matter the circumstances, is that no one can ever take away a birth parent’s love for their birth child,” and the (adopted) child must grow knowing this. He advises, “Constantly remind your child that their birth family loves them.”
Natalie: Do you resent your biological/birth family for choosing to place you for adoption? What would you like to say to any expectant moms/families who feel they are unable to adequately care for the little life they love so much?
Jesse: I can imagine you are scared, beyond stressed, feeling broken, and most likely are an emotional wreck right now, contemplating whether or not to place your child for adoption. This is a decision that I am sure is even difficult to think about, as an expectant mother has created an intimate relationship with her baby from conception to birth.
If you are thinking about adoption, I have some encouragement for you: Adoption is beautiful. It has given me a life my birth parents never would have been able to give me. I was welcomed into a home where I was/am loved by parents that consider me their own.
I am forever grateful to my parents for having the heart, compassion, and leadership to make me the best possible person I can be to this day. This was only possible through the brave selfless love my birth parents had for me and having the awareness that they could not give me the life that I deserve.
My advice to you is if you are thinking about placing your child for adoption, do it. Seek a family that will consider your wishes to have the best possible experience of adoption. Adoption is truly a beautiful process, as it is giving your child the best possible care and love that they could receive.
I am an adoptee and I do not resent my birth parents for choosing to place me for adoption.