Jeanne is a dear friend of mine. We share a community of foster and adoptive parents, we love each other’s kids fiercely, and we love a good and honest conversation.
Jeanne was adopted at birth; her birth mom’s doctor was the facilitator of her adoption. She then chose adoption (and foster care) as the way to grow her family. It’s always a privilege to hear from adoptees; it’s even more sweet when they are your friends.
NB: Growing up as an adoptee, did you have positive or negative views regarding your identity being adopted?
J: Growing up as an adoptee I always connected being adopted with being loved. I could see day in and day out how much my parents loved me, and was always told how much love my birth mom must have for me to choose adoption.
As an adult I now know just how complicated and heart-wrenching these decisions are, but as a child, I just heard about the love.
So in my adoptee-child mind, I didn’t remember seeing adoption as a dirty secret, or something to be ashamed about. It was just the way God put our family together.
NB: Did these views or feelings of your being adopted contribute to your decision to adopt as an adult?
J: Oh most definitely. I think I talked to my husband about my desire to adopt long before we started talking about marriage.
NB: At what point in life did you know you wanted to use adoption to grow your family?
J: I don’t remember ever not wanting to adopt to be perfectly honest. Creating a family through adoption was my normal.
It wasn’t until a heartbreaking string of miscarriages that it became clear I needed a family through adoption as much as I wanted one.
NB: Is there any thing your parents did that made you think “I won’t adopt” OR “If I do adopt, I won’t do this / treat my child this way, etc” ? Basically is there anything (potential) adoptive parents should hear from you, specifically as an adoptee?
J: I found my birth mom as an adult. In walking through the awkwardness in building this relationship with my birth family, I knew if I adopted I wanted my kids to have a relationship with their first families as soon as possible.
So closed adoption was off the table for me.
NB: How has being an adoptee shaped your view of adoption as a whole?
J: There are really two tracks of answers (leading to so many more questions) for me, as an adoptee, and an adoptive parent.
As a teenager/young adult I remember wanting adoption to have a fair place at the table when it came to parenting choices. I wanted the world to see it as normal as it felt for me.
As an adoptive parent one of the hardest things has been owning that my ability to adopt through infant adoption is directly linked to my privilege. And how that privilege makes it impossible for adoption to have that fair place at the table I wanted so desperately as a young person.
NB: How has being an adoptee shaped your view of parents who have made or are making an adoption plan? (Or first parents who didn’t have a choice).
J: Oh my goodness I don’t think I can answer this question without crying.
This is the hardest decision. I can’t even begin to fathom the sacrifice it takes to make this decision. I have so much love, and feel so protective of expecting parents considering an adoption plan.
Every day it wrecks me all over again that my son’s birth moms chose me to be their Mama. I want my kids to not only know how much their first mamas love them, but have that present relationship with them from the beginning.
NB: How has being an adoptee made you a better Adoptive parent?
J: I’m not afraid of my kids having too much love. Their love for their birth mamas does not take an ounce away from their love for me.
I answered most of these questions as my perspective when I was a child. I realize as a grown person who has had to learn to sit on my hands and not be defensive, and really hear that in order to truly celebrate adoption we need to sit with the heartache and sacrifice that comes with it.