"I didn't know you were adopted!"
This is my favorite thing people say to me when they find out I was adopted. It's not really something that comes up in everyday conversation and I currently don't own any shirts that say "I'm adopted!" although, now I think I need to. I'm an open book when it comes to adoption. I even went as far as allowing a TV crew to come with me when I met my biological family for the first time (I still have mixed feelings about this). As my friends and I have grown up and are having children of our own, I've occasionally been asked about parenting adopted children.
I think my parents will be very excited to read this article because in the past I've mostly told them all the things they did wrong. When it comes to the fact that I was adopted-I feel like they did a really good job. One of my most furious pet peeves is when I hear about adopted children that are mistreated specifically because they were adopted. I've met families that have specific limitations ONLY on their adopted children or that refer to their adopted children as "not their real child, their adopted child" and it makes my stomach turn. One of the best indications I've found is how the siblings treat each other and their attitude towards their adopted siblings-if the parents have had the wrong attitude towards their adopted children, the siblings are usually much worse.
I think the reason I've always had a healthy attitude about my adoption is because of a few key things my parents did right:
1.They Told Me From the Beginning
I'm a huge advocate for children knowing how they came to be. If my parents would have sprung on me that I was adopted when I turned 12, 16, or 18 we would have had PROBLEMS (and we already had problems so this would have been REALLY bad). Also, I want to believe I would have caught on because I was 6 when my Mother brought my sisters home from Romania and they look pretty Romanian. There is never a time in my life I didn't know I was adopted. We talked about it regularly and my questions were answered as I came up with them. Adoption was shown as the most logical way for my parents to acquire the children they wanted since they couldn't have kids themselves. They were always very straightforward and never acted weird about it...so I didn't either.
2.They Made it Normal
It wasn't until I was older and better able to understand that I realized there was a stigma around adoption. I remember once I had a cousin ask if it was weird that I didn't look like the rest of the family and I wasn't sure how to even answer that (my extended family looks pretty diverse on both sides). I had never dawned on my that this was weird that my mom hadn't given birth to me. As I got older when friends would ask I would ask them if it was weird that they came out of their mom. It's not-that's just how it is. My normal is very different because I literally don't know anything else! I think normalization happened because we talked about it like it was no big deal-very logically and it just made sense to me.
3.They Told Me Everything They Knew
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I came from a closed adoption. I was in foster care for 3 months and then adopted through LDS Social Services. My Mom always told me that my foster mom was very sweet and that my biological mother cared very much for me and placed me out of love, because that is all that she knew about my background. I knew where I was born, I knew the whole story of my parents picking me up and I was filled in on all of the information my parents had. I'm very grateful for this and glad that this was also presented very matter-of-fact. When I was a teenager my Mom pulled out my adoption paperwork and showed me the limited information they had about my biological parents-their eye color, height, my birth weight, etc. and I was glad to have even limited knowledge about it.
4.My Parents Supported Me Meeting My Biological Family
As I grew up I realized that I had a very large family that I felt very much connected to. Finding my biological family was never a high priority for me-I always wanted to leave myself available to be found, but pursuing it myself seemed like a large task and not entirely necessary. I always felt that if I never met them here on earth, I would meet them in heaven. I also knew that there is a reason people place children for adoption and it's usually pretty serious-I didn't want to jump in to opening a huge can of worms and disrupting other people's lives if I was a painful memory they wanted to forget (especially after having my own children and realized just how difficult that would be).
That changed very quickly on a random Wednesday a few years ago. I received a phone call from LDS Social Services asking if I would like to talk to my biological mother-she was trying to get in touch with me and Georgia's laws had changed in terms of closed adoptions and could I sign and fax over some documents? I said yes, faxed it all over and was talking to my biological mother that afternoon. Crazy. I called my parents in the midst of all of this and was given lots of support from them, which I am very grateful for. My parents always told us growing up that if we wanted to search for our biological families they would support us and they did.
5.Being Adopted Was Never Used Against Me
Not once did my parents bring up the fact that I was adopted during my very difficult teenage years. We fought often and had many ups and downs and they never brought this up. It would have been extremely damaging for me if they had and I'm grateful. I always felt so connected to my family-they are my crazies and I love them as such. Even now as I know my biological family I just feel like my circle has grown-no one has been replaced.
Adoption has been a huge blessing in my life. I'm an open book and I'd be happy to answer any questions you have, feel free to comment below!
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">An Adoption Birth Story