She always starts the story by saying how they had been waiting for a baby for awhile when she got a fortune cookie that said, "A long awaited package will soon be arriving." A few short weeks later they recieved a call that there was a baby girl for them to come pick up. Even writing these few sentences about my entry into my family and I can't help but have a huge grin on my face. I think she tells me this story every time we have fortune cookies, and while I must have heard it hundreds of times, I will always hope to hear it one hundred more.
I am an adopted child.
While we have never discussed the specifics as a family, my parents were unable to have children of their own and made the choice to adopt. They adopted my older sister, and a few years later, I came along to complete our little family. They never have hidden the fact that we were adopted from my sister and me. I remember growing up and being told how special that made me. How somewhere out in this world was a woman that loved me so much that she made the ultimate sacrifice to give me a family and a life that she could not provide for me. I knew that my sister and I were different from other kids, but I knew how special that difference made us, because we had a mom and dad that made the choice to love us.
Currently, I am two months away from my 28th birthday. While I will never deny my curiosity about my genetic roots, I have yet had the desire to seek out and meet any member of my biological family. I was lucky enough that my biological mother had written a letter to me shortly after my birth. My parents kept this letter as well as some other correspondence safe and sound while I was growing up. Sometime early during my undergraduate years, my mom told me about the letter for the first time. She let me know that they weren't hiding it from me, but that they wanted to make sure that I was old enough to understand whatever may be in that letter because they loved me. She told me that they felt that I was ready and they would keep it safe for me as long as I wanted them to, and it was okay for me to ask for the letter anytime I felt I was ready for it. The decison was mine. I admit, I was more than confused at first about what to do. Yes, I was curious, but was I ready? I waited for a few years before I asked my Mom for my letter. I had prayed and reflected on it many times over those years, but it had never felt like the right timing. Even after I had the letter in my possession, it still took me a few days to get the courage to read it. I remember coming home one day and just knowing that it was time. I took my letter, sat in my favorite chair next to an open window on a beautiful day, and for the first time connected with my birthmother. I spent most of the time reading in tears, thankful for this chance to know something about this woman, but also thankful to her for making the choice to let me go so I could become part of my family. A few short days ago my mom gave me a few more cards that she found while she was going through some old keepsakes and papers. Included in this batch was a sheet with information on both of my biological parents. Moreso than ever, the idea that these two people exist somewhere out there is becoming real. While I now know that by nature I probably look more like my biological father and inherited some of my biological mothers personality traits, I have had a solid enough upbringing to know that the two people that nurtured me are the only parents I will ever have or need. While I can guess at all the ways I may be similar to these two strangers that created me, I know all the ways that my parents shaped me into who I am. And who I am, above anything else, is my parent's daughter.
I have been racking my brain about what to write to you from an adopted child's perspective. All I can think about is my Mom. In my mind, my story starts with my mom and her fortune cookie. She told me while I was growing up how much I was loved. Answered any questions I may have had about my biological parents even though I can't imagine it was easy. I even remember a few times as a child when we would pray for my biological mother and thinking how neat it was that my mom wanted to do that. As I've grown, while its been unspoken, I know that she's been supportive and understanding of any curiostiy that I've had. And I also know that if and when I make the choice to seek out my biological families that she and my dad would support me in that decision. My story as an adopted child is one of love, and for that I am thankful and grateful everyday. And I never feel more loved then when I see my mother's face as she tells me or anyone that will listen a few short sentences about a fortune cookie she ate all those years ago and how much she wanted that fortune to come true.
To all the parents on this blog that are waiting to adopt, all I can think about as I write this is not my own history, but what I wish the person I am now could say to my Mom and Dad while they were in the adoption process. And since I can't travel back in time to share with them, I want to share these words with you.
You are already parents.
In all the ways that matter, you are already parents. While the waiting and the process takes a heartbreaking amount of time, in your hearts, you are parents. You have made the active choice to open your hearts and homes to child that needs you as much as you need them. Know and believe everyday while you are waiting how special this choice is and how special that love is and how special YOU are. While you pray for your future child, remember to pray for the people that are making the choice to give a child to a family that is waiting and wanting to love them. Always tell your adopted child how special they are to you. Remember that they will have questions from time to time about where it was that they came from and it's okay to not have all the answers. They will ask, not because you haven't loved them enough, but because it is human nature to be curious.
I wish that I could hug each and everyone of you that are waiting and tell you everyday how special you are. I have never shared with anyone else how often I find myself praying for both the parents that are waiting and for the children that are going to be adopted. I believe with everything in my heart that you are already families, you are just finding your way to one another.
While you and I may never know one another, I will pray for you now too. That soon, like my mom and her fortune cookie, you will be given your own story. And everytime you tell that story to your child, or anyone else that will listen, your child will feel as loved as I do when I hear mine.
No matter what it is, that story will be beautiful.