I was adopted at one month old, and from that day on February 14, 1980, I had an amazing family base. From when I was an infant, my parents were open with family and friends about my adoption. As a baby and through childhood, they would read me books about adoption and answer any questions I had. As I got older, my parents told me that I could always ask them questions about my adoption, that they understood.
Well, I did have questions about why my birth mom placed me, but I never asked. I know my parents would be open to any questions regarding adoption, but I always felt awkward asking. I never wanted to hurt them. They told me they would not be hurt by any questions, but in my heart, I felt differently. I had a wonderful childhood, a wonderful home life, and if memory serves me right, not many questions came into the forefront of my mind. . . until high school.
In fifth grade, my parents signed me up for an adoption support group. It met once a week or every other week, I don’t recall. We met in a conference room at lunch time. I enjoyed socializing with others who understood me and knew adoption lingo. There were about five children in the group from grades 3-5. I am thankful to my parents for seeking out resources for me to ensure I would have a place to ask questions about adoption without feeling awkward. My parents understood that it was natural to wonder why I was given up and wanted me to know I was not alone in being adopted or my thoughts.
I believe I was in fourth grade when I had my first encounter with a peer who did not believe I was adopted. She said she did not believe me, and I remember her tone was less than intriguing. I remember getting all red in the face, and I had all this inner turmoil as I told her I was adopted. I remember becoming defensive and telling her I would bring in my birth certificate. The next day I brought by birth certifcate into her and showed her. I pointed out where it said AMENDED BIRTH CERTIFICATE. I remember she looked at it, looked at me, and said, “Oh.” As I look back on that moment in my life, I realize I was proud of being adopted. I didn’t like that someone didn’t believe in something I stood for and something I was: adopted.
When I was in high school, I started to wonder about who my birth mom was and why she chose to place me for adoption. Still not feeling comfortable going to my parents, I began writing poetry about being adopted, and I wrote a journal to my birth mom. Writing was my release; it was the way I could ask my questions in my comfort zone. By writing, I didn’t have to worry about anyone’s feelings but my own. When I started college, I think my parents had an inkling that I did think about being adopted but didn’t feel comfortable broaching my questions and thoughts to them. I say this because when I was 19, my parents gave me three books on being adopted. I admire them for their caring nature. They wanted me to know they understood that although I was adopted as an infant, and adopted into an incredible family, I may still question what could’ve been, and have a desire to know my biological roots.
Growing up, my family never introduced me as “our adopted daughter.” I was “our daughter Rebecca.” My Granny, my aunts, uncles and cousins honestly forgot I was adopted. Being adopted didn’t matter to them. I was part of their family. They never knew a time without me, and I never knew a time without them. I guess one may ask if that bothered me, that my family never remembered I was adopted. It didn’t bother me at all. It made me very happy that I was not seen as “different” in a group that was so similar.
I have always been proud to be adopted. I think it makes me unique, and I like that. When I was in school over the years and we had to do ice breakers where we had to state one fact about us that not many people knew, I always used, “I was adopted.” It is a great conversation starter, and I have been able to tell my positive adoption story to many and educate some on adoption and being an adoptee.
I have always felt lucky to have been adopted into such a wonderful, loving, connected family. The strong base my family built their lives on led me to having an amazing, successful life. I have had a life full of unconditional love.
Since I located my birth mom and her family, and since I have unearthed her story, trials and tribulations, I feel even more lucky and blessed to have been placed for adoption. My life, had my birth mom chosen to keep me, would not have been a successful, comfortable life. She struggled every day with past demons. I thank God that she did not pull me into her life to struggle with her. Her life was no place for a child to be raised. As much as my birth mom may have wanted someone to love her unconditionally, she knew she could not ask that of her daughter.
I have chosen to follow my adoptive parents’ lead about talking openly about my adoption with my own children. My almost 7-year-old has known I was adopted since he was about 4. He now knows what adoption means, and he knows his Nonni and Poppy adopted me because my birth mom was sick and unable to care for me. I want everyone who knows me, especially my children, to know what makes me who I am today. Being adopted is a big piece of who I am. It is why I am so successful, so full of life and love. I was adopted into a life full of love and laughter, and now, love and laughter run throughout my own family because of the base I was given. It is a wonderful, endless circle.