Lately, I find myself reflecting on my personal experiences with adoption. I was perusing Facebook recently, and I caught a conversation that really got me thinking about my own adoption and Harley’s adoption. While I know that so many strides have been made as far as the stereotypical adopted child, birth parents, adoptive parents, etc., I feel like adoption is still very misunderstood.
It seems like many believe that adopted children are inherently broken. I even confess that as a child, I felt this way as well. Being adopted didn’t make me special. It made me different. I remember a neighborhood kid was teasing me once, and he ended his prepubescent diatribe with, “and you’re ADOPTED!” My friends all laughed. I walked off crying. I hated that I was adopted. In fact, I resented it.
My teenage years weren’t much better. My poor mom had to deal with so much crap. I lashed out at her because I didn’t believe she was my real mom. We didn’t understand each other. I didn’t feel as if I was hers. There were times I felt so envious of my friends’ relationships with their moms. Being adopted was, basically, the bane of my existence. I often thought, ”Why can’t I just have my real mom back?” or, “Why didn’t she love me enough to keep me?” Talk about adding to my already high list of insecurities. If my own mother didn’t want me, then what was I worth in the eyes of anyone else? I didn’t belong in my family. I didn’t look much like my siblings. I didn’t connect with them. I was an awful big sister, actually, and I have tried so hard to make up for all the crap they had to put up with, too. It was really a confusing time for me. I felt as if I had no identity.
I wrestled with these feelings until I was around 21 years old. When I married Josh, things seemed to change between me and my mom. This is when things really started to unfold and make sense to me.
I understand that my biological mother was in no way capable of giving me a stable life. I don’t know why she did what she did, and I don’t hate her, but I realize that I would not have had the best of much with her. From what I know, her life was a bit crazy–filled with stealing, drugs, and leaving me on people’s doorsteps. That is no life for a child. I even had a stint in foster care because of her lack of parenting abilities. Luckily, I have a wonderful, loving, and completely capable father who rescued me. Even more luckily (grammar face palm), I have an amazing mother who took me in when I didn’t have a mother to turn to.
I am not broken because I am adopted. I am blessed.
Of course, it was hard to accept the way I was brought into my family. Adoptions from my era are almost 100% closed. I knew nothing of my biological family–if they loved me, why my biological mother couldn’t take care of me. I didn’t feel loved by both families. I more or less felt betrayed.
I am embarrassed to also confess that when I found out I wasn’t able to have children on my own, adoption felt like some sort of awful parental sentence for me.
How wrong I was. My mom is my mom. I’ve said it a billion times, and I’ll keep saying it. I would have struggled either way, being adopted or not, and I feel like the struggles of “growing up adopted” were quite tame compared to growing up in a home as unstable as my birth mother’s was. I have been given every chance in the world to succeed because of the parents I have. They came to my soccer games and supported my voice lessons and endless choir concerts. They sent me off to college, prayed for me, and, most important of all, they love me.
My son is not broken because he is adopted. He is blessed to be loved by so many families. Open adoption will, hopefully, ease the fears that I dealt with as a child. Harley will never have to question where he came from or if he is loved. It is because he is loved that he is with us now. We keep in contact with his birth mother because she is a part of his life and our life. Sadie was an amazing mom to Harley for the first 14 months of his life. She will be here to tell him she loved him so much she wanted him to have what we could offer. He has birth families who keep in touch and love him, and we visit with them. He will never have to worry about a hidden family out there somewhere.
Adoption is a sacred exchange. It is a wonderful way for those who are unable to start a family on their own to have one and those who are not ready to parent to give their child the best.
Harley is nowhere close to broken, and neither am I.
We are loved. We are blessed. We belong.
These are the most important things in life.