From Adoptee to Adoptive Mother: A Journey Through Adoption

One mom shares how her experiences being adopted shaped her choice to adopt her daughter

adoption, adoption awareness month, mother and daughter, mother and daughter in the fall, autumn

November is Adoption Awareness Month.  In our home, we are celebrating this month as we are in the process of finalizing the adoption of our daughter. But I did not always feel like celebrating adoption. And if you had asked me many years ago if I ever thought adoption was a cause for celebration or if I would adopt a child, I would have said no. 

I am also an adoptee. And I struggled for many years with being adopted and the feelings that go with that. Now, as my story has come full circle, I am at a point in my life where I am ready to share my story.

I’ve always knows I was adopted, it was always a part of my story. My parents went against the secrecy trend at that time, and the advice of some family, and told me and my brother at a young age we were adopted. It was part of our life, not a big secret to be kept hidden.

My parents brought me home when I was nine months old, just before Christmas. This was always my favourite part of the story and maybe one of the reasons I love Christmas! They loved me and gave me a great life.

But there was always something inside of me that felt different and apart from my family and friends. I always felt that I was unlovable. No matter what my parents said, and no matter how much they loved me, those feelings grew and intensified. In my teens to my mid-twenties, these feelings defined who I was and how I related to people. I kept myself isolated and alone and no one really knew what was going on. I did my best to protect myself from facing any kind of rejection again.

In my early twenties I put my name on the adoption registry to find my birth parents. I thought that if I found my birth parents it would “fix” me. But, when the search was finally completed, neither my birth mother nor my birth father wanted to meet me. This was a huge blow to me and was one of the darkest periods of my life. All the feelings of rejection, that I was unlovable, that there was something wrong with me, bubbled to the surface.

With the help of therapy, close friends and my parents, I slowly moved through this period. Eventually, I was able to find peace and forgiveness for my birth parents. I came to understand that my adoption was not about me, but a choice my birth parents made. It was really a decision made out of love, and the best they could do at that time.

In my head, I understand why my birth parents gave me up, and did not choose to meet me years later. In my heart, there are days when it still hurts and I don’t get it—how could you not want to meet your “child”. But I accept their choice and know it has nothing to do with me and who I am.

Fast forward ten years. I’m married and ready to start a family. But it is not happening. We immediately started discussing our options, including adoption. At the beginning, adoption was not something I was ready to consider. It had been difficult for me, and difficult for my parents, and I was not sure I had the strength to go through that as a parent.

We did get pregnant and had a beautiful baby boy. After about a year, we were ready to try again but it didn’t happen. As we were running out of time, money and options, we started talking about adoption. I knew I wanted another child, but I still wasn’t sure I was ready to adopt.

I saw an ad for an adoption information seminar near our home and we decided to go. This was an introductory session which explained the types of adoption, the process and open adoption, something that terrified me.

As a child who often told her mother she couldn’t tell me what to do because she wasn’t my “real mother”, open adoption seemed like a recipe for disaster. As I looked at it, from my perspective, open adoption would be an opportunity for a child to play one parent against another. But as I listened to adoptive parents share their stories, I started to understand that was not the case. In fact, open adoption provides adoptees the opportunity to know their history and develop a relationship with their birth mother or father. While I was still apprehensive, we decided to take that leap of faith and started down the path to adoption.

One of our steps to proceed in Ontario was to take an adoption parenting course, called PRIDE. This course was a real turning point for me and my adoption story. We watched movies about adoptees and, again and again, I heard my story. It was a healing experience for me to identify with these people, to know that my story and my feelings are not unique. As that course progressed, I started to see that my experience as an adoptee would actually help a child.

We moved forward with the process. After about three years, we were still waiting and were starting to think it might not happen. Then, when we least expected it, we got the call that would change our family—there was a little girl for us!

 So, as it had happened to my parents’ years before, we would adopt a ten month old baby girl just before Christmas. The similarities to my own adoption story were unbelievable. My story, from adoptee to adoptive mother, had now come full circle.

While I was worried about bonding, it was a seamless transition for all of us. Without a doubt, she is my daughter, my child, no different than my son.

While I don’t know what the future holds for my daughter, I am ready to walk this path with her. I understand that while there is great joy in our adoption of this beautiful girl, the story started with a great loss. I don’t know how my daughter will feel about her adoption. But I am hopeful that my adoptee experience will help my daughter with her story as she grows up.

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