a / dop / tion, noun  – the action or fact of adopting or being adopted

Middle English: from Latin adoptio(n-), from ad- ‘to’ + optio(n-) ‘choosing’

That’s adoption according to Google. But what is adoption? What does it mean? How does it impact one’s life? How does it define those who participate in it? I can answer that for myself, an adoptive mom. But what about the other triad members? Fortunately, I have almost 24/7 access to an adoptee—my son, Jackson, age 9 (and almost 1/2). I also asked his birth mother, Saundra, these questions. Since we’re all one family, I thought it would be interesting to see how our ideas matched, or not.

Robyn, Adoptive Mom

Adoption is a way to become a family. It’s the joining of one family with another. I had wanted to adopt since I was 13. I never wanted to be pregnant, and I thought there were so many kids in orphanages around the world who needed homes, adoption would be a great option for everyone . . . But when it came time to actually adopt, international wasn’t a viable option for me because I have a disability. So we turned to private domestic infant adoption. I had always seen adoption as somewhat altruistic, but also a win-win. A child needed a home, we needed a child. I realize now that it’s not that simple. I am still a believer in adoption, but I see that there is loss involved. I also see the need for reforms in all types of adoption.

Without adoption, I wouldn’t be a mom. Being a mom is something that defines me, certainly. Being an adoptive mom is a bit different, so, specifically being an adoptive mom does define me in some cases.

Overall, adoption, for me, is a never-ending journey. I’m constantly learning from my children, their birth families, and the online adoption community.

Saundra, Birth Mom

Adoption is when a child is given to another family to be raised and loved. It was a decision I chose for my son almost 10 years ago. I was not in the most stable is circumstances and didn’t want both of my sons to go without proper love and care. Still to this day, there is no regret in my decision. I know that my son is in a loving home with parents who are able to provide him all the love and care I could have hoped for him. I miss him dearly, but now he is a phone call away.

I do think that adoption is one of the things that defines me. I have always been known to be a caring person and with the decision I made, I know that it was what was best for him to have everything he needs. Before I chose adoption for my son, I was skeptical; my mom was adopted and abused. She never knew her birth parents. I was worried. Now, I think of adoption as the selfless choice I made to ensure that my child had the best care. I no longer look at adoption as a negative thing. It’s beautiful and helps so many children to have the love and support they need to grow and prosper.

I love my son with everything I have. If there’s anything I want him to know more than anything, it’s that he will always be my son and I will love him eternally. He was always wanted and special. He’s beautiful and smart. He’s special—very, very, special—to me. He’s my angel afar. On his birthday, I blessed another family with his beauty. They love him as their own. They have given him everything I wish I could have provided. I’m most happy that I still am involved in his life and eternally grateful for the opportunity. I love him.

Jackson, Adoptee (Age 9)

Adoption is when some people adopt people from other people. It feels good to be adopted, because you have a bigger family, and you get to meet a lot of people that you usually don’t get to meet if you stayed with your birth mom. My dad coached my soccer team, but I never met my birth dad. My life would be way different if I were with Saundra.

I feel kind of different. I have a bunch of friends, but all of their parents are the same color as them, usually. They’re usually born by the same parents. And I’m not. It’s sometimes hard being adopted—like, you feel really different and you have to go somewhere without the person you were born with. But in other ways it feels kind of good, because your birth parents chose some really good people for you. All your parents can teach you so much. Your birth parents can teach you about how you were adopted and why, and you can talk to them a lot on the phone. It’s really fun. And your other parents can talk to you about Legos, baseball cards, and all sorts of things.

I do get asked a lot of questions, like “Are your ‘adopted parents’ really your parents?” and “How long did you know your birth mom for?” and “How old were you when you were adopted?” and “Why is your mom white but you’re black?” It’s not very fun being asked all the questions. Most of the time, I answer them, though. But not if they’re asking them over and over again.

I don’t think that being adopted defines me. What defines me is stuff, as in, how I’m cute or charming. What defines people is how they act. So, I’m defined as kind of obnoxious, sometimes nice, sweet, cute, and sometimes annoying or weird.

Always tell your kids they’re adopted. And you should try and keep in touch with the birth parents. Smart idea. Because if kids don’t know who their birth parents are, it might make them feel kind of weird. If you don’t tell them, when they’re older, they’ll figure out the secret. I’m serious! If you can, you should keep a record and take pictures of birth parents and family, and send your birth family pictures of their kids.