Finding caring, loving homes for children is a great joy, and coordinating reunions can be even more rewarding.”
The following letters are for adoptive parents, birth parents and even other adopted children that want to know more about what it’s like to be part of an Adoptions With Love family and meet a birth parent for the first time.
On August 9th, 2008, I met my birth mother, Karen, for the first time since I was born twenty years ago. My parents have always been supportive about my desire to get to know Karen and for her to get to know me, despite how emotional we all knew it would be for everyone involved. I spoke to my half-brothers–Jonathan, 22, and Benjamin, 18–for five hours straight before speaking to Karen. After speaking to her on the phone, I decided to fly to Delaware with my friend to meet her and my older brother Jonathan. This was something I needed to do on my own the first time around, and my mom and dad understood and agreed it was the best way to do it.
Karen gave me the greatest gift any woman could give her child: she gave me a life that I love. She wanted to give me a happy life with parents who would love and care for me, and that is exactly what she did. I have had the greatest life that any child could ever hope for. My parents are perfect and my sister and I continue to see their love for one another grow, which is an incredible example for any children to see and hope for in their own futures. I have the best sister in the world that is always there for me and I could not live without her. I have been blessed with my family. Karen told me that they were the first portfolio she looked at and she knew they were the right ones to raise me.
I needed to find Karen so that she could know what she did for me. She deserved to know how appreciative I am to her for making one of the hardest decisions of her life. She now knows how great a gift she gave me and we will hopefully stay in touch in the future so that she can continue to see me flourish in my surroundings and see me develop into the woman that she hoped I could be.
I’ve always been adopted. In my mind, there was never any issue with it. I’ve never had issues discussing it, never felt like it was something that separated me from anyone else. As far back as I can remember, a book titled The Day We Got You was on my nightstand, and occasionally, my parents and I would read it before bedtime. Then they’d tell me the story of how they got the call and were so incredibly happy to find out they had a baby! It was the day before my father’s birthday, and he’d tell me how exhausted they were from staying up all night with me, but how I was still the best birthday present he could have asked for.
I vividly remember jumping rope with a friend in my driveway one day when we were probably eight years old. Somehow, in the midst of a jump-roping session, I told her I was adopted. She said, “no, you’re not.” And I said, “yes, I am! Go ask my parents.” And so she did. She could not believe it. Adoption still has a reputation of being international or through foster care. People don’t think I am adopted because I am so much like my parents. I do look remarkably like my father and everyone in his family. The only time my adoption ever comes up is for things like medical history or genetics. People ask questions like “do you get your eyes from your mother or father?” expecting a simple answer. I still haven’t found a tactful way to respond in situations like that, and usually, end up clamming up or spluttering something about adoption.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve started to think more about my adoption differently. One year, when I was probably 16 or 17, around the time of my birthday, I had a realization. It suddenly occurred to me that my birth mother probably still exists, she probably still thinks about me; it’s not like I’m dead to her. I realized that she didn’t just give me up because she couldn’t provide for me, but also because she loved me and knew that I would be able to have a better life elsewhere with my parents. Now, I end up thinking about her a lot more, especially when it gets closer to my birthday.
This summer, I’ve decided to look at the adoption process from a different perspective. I’ve been working three days a week as an intern at Adoptions With Love – the very same agency my parents adopted me through twenty years ago. It’s been a real pleasure getting to know Amy, Nancy (who was my parents’ social worker!), Karen, Meghen and Deborah. I’ve also had such a valuable learning experience here, and have gotten to see what’s on the other side and behind the scenes of the adoption process. We joke that there is certainly no stork that delivers babies, but more an insanely large amount of paperwork and phone calls to get these placements done. I’ve gotten to hear stories of joy and horror; women who cannot afford to purchase maternity clothes, let alone get to a doctor; and families who have been waiting for so long and finally get the call that there is a child waiting for loving parents. Just today, I saw the child from the first placement I was around for. It was so rewarding, because the last time I had seen the adoptive parents, they were getting ready to get on a plane to Illinois, and here they were with the most adorable little baby in their arms.
Another great thing is being able to talk with my parents about their experiences adopting 20 years ago and how the process has changed since then. One of the biggest differences is that back when my parents adopted, birth mothers actually came to live with adoptive families after a child was placed with the family. After I was born, my parents had two birth mothers living in our house, and my mother even took one of them to the hospital when she was in labor and was in the delivery room when her baby was born. Also, now, Adoptions With Love fosters the relationship between the birth mother and the adoptive parents by providing a letter and photograph exchanging system. This is fun for us – we love seeing all of the babies – but many of our birth mothers really appreciate seeing their child grow in their new home. For the adoptive couple, we work hard to obtain family medical histories from both the birthmother and birth father – something that I only wish had been done 20 years ago!
This is surely one of the most interesting and rewarding experiences I have ever had at a job. I can see little bits of my parents in every joyful adoptive couple I see. Working at Adoptions With Love is a wonderful experience and has brought me one step closer to finding my own birth mother. I know that it is something I will do, eventually, when I feel the time is right. After all, she is part of the reason I’ve had the opportunities I’ve had, and she deserves thanks! I also want to thank everyone that I’ve had the opportunity to work with this summer for giving me an experience I won’t forget and will impact the rest of my life.