A statement adoptees often hear is “Oh, you’re adopted? I’m so sorry, I didn’t know. Aren’t you angry at your birth mom for giving you up? Wow, you must be so grateful to your adoptive parents.”

People often pity me as a birth mother, thinking that I have been taken advantage of or that I had a lifestyle that lead me to be incapable of raising a child.

Adoptive parents are typically regarded as heroes or despised as baby stealers.

The thing is, just about none of these things are actually true.

In our culture, we like to put things in nice, neat little packages and stow them away, forgetting that much of  the time the ideas in those boxes don’t belong there. In order to break that pattern, it’s important to find balance in common ideas about adoption. Most people’s stories fall somewhere in between two extremes.

I am not a high school dropout. Neither am I without resources to parent. I don’t drink or have a drug problem. I wasn’t selfish, placing my baby because I didn’t want my life to be interrupted. I wasn’t looking for money or an easy way out. I didn’t abandon baby R.

I’m not an entirely  innocent person either. I made irresponsible choices at the wrong time with the wrong person. I didn’t consider the consequences of my decisions. It’s not fair for a child to be born to a mother who is not ready to be a parent.

I did do the best I could with the knowledge that I had. I did weigh the pros and cons so I could make the very best decision for the child I was carrying. I found her the parents I believed she was meant to have. And I’ve tried to change my life so that I can be a good example.

Baby R’s adoptive parents are not saviors. They did not rescue either of their two children. They didn’t save them from a life of utter poverty or from an abandonment or abuse. They did not adopt to selflessly give disadvantaged children a new chance at life. They are not without flaw, or fabulously wealthy. They just wanted to be parents.

But adopting because they wanted to be parents does not make them baby stealers. They didn’t buy my infant, or snatch her brother away from his birth mother’s unsuspecting arms. They didn’t scheme, or take advantage of us to trick us out of raising our babies.

They did offer to do the best they could as parents. And they offered to love the birth parents of their children and allow us to be a part of their lives. So we made the decision together to become a family. And sometimes Baby R gets sick and cranky. Sometimes her brother throws tantrums. Sometimes they’re late in sending me updates. But they do the best they can.

Baby R is not damaged goods. Adoptees are not troubled, wounded souls grieving loss their entire lives any more than anyone else. She was not snatched away by her adoptive parents, and she will not live her life consumed by thoughts of me, wondering who I am and what possessed me to give her away. She is not less than. She is not unwanted.

And she is not “lucky” to be adopted. Her life will not automatically be perfect simply because her parents were lovingly chosen. She doesn’t need to spend her whole life feeling indebted to her adoptive parents for giving her a new life.

Her life will just be her life. She will be angry at her parents and she will love her parents just like any child raised by biological parents. “Adopted” will not be her label. It will simply be a word used to tell her story. It’s true, this is not a story she chose to have. She may have questions or mixed feelings about being adopted. But both sets of parents, adoptive and biological (both REAL), will be there to help guide her through feeling whatever it is she needs to feel.

The people involved in the adoption triad are just as diverse as everyone else. Each of our stories is entirely different. But whether we are Jewish, thirty-five, fabulously wealthy, sixteen, Christian, or anything in between, we all have one thing in common. Our lives were forever changed by the bittersweet love of adoption.