Adoption is never easy. It’s not easy for the couple who makes the decision after trying to have a child naturally, it’s not easy for the child who is adopted, and it certainly isn’t easy for the parents who give up their baby to be raised by someone else. There are so many stories out there from these perspectives, but what about after all this? What happens after the adopted child grows up and has a family of their own? When those children grow up and start their families?
I am the child of an adoptee and here’s my story.
Back when adoption was not as common as it is today, my grandparents adopted a little boy who was three years old followed by my mother at birth because they were unable to have biological children of their own. I’m told my grandparents were very open with the fact that my mother and her brother were adopted and my grandmother always told her children that she was a mother through her heart. My mother, who went on to marry my father and was able to have biological children gave birth to both my brother and myself. Since my mother and grandparents share similar traits such as blond hair and light eyes, my brother and I grew up never even imagining my mother was adopted until one day the cat was let out of the bag. When we asked about possibly finding our biological relatives my mother stated that she had no desire to seek them out and we respected that decision. We were surprised to say the least, but moved on rather quickly and never gave it much thought.
Until I became pregnant with a child of my own.
As my husband and I were sitting in the doctor’s office in that initial visit filling out so many forms I swear I could have written a book, I came across the one that spoke of family history. For the first time in my life, I felt a void over not knowing my biological predecessors. There were so many questions I couldn’t answer; simple questions like History of Heart Disease, History of Mental Illness, History of Cancer, etc. Now I’m not going to lie, I’d always felt a twinge of curiosity over who these people could be, but it was the kind of curiosity you see in the movies (i.e. insanely rich uncle dies without an heir and lawyer finds you and you inherit millions). But I’d never felt a void until that day. It was a sad yet odd feeling leaving everything blank and then explaining to my doctor why.
As we left the doctor’s office that day my head was flooded with questions. Who will my baby look like? Will I unknowingly pass along a genetic issue to them? What if I have a medical predisposition and not know it? The list could go on and on and the answer was always the same… I don’t know. It didn’t help that my parents were steadfast in their decision to not seek out any information with me. As my father put it; Jaclyn, I never worried about any of that stuff and you guys turned out fine so you shouldn’t either. But I did worry and to this day, 4 kids later, I still worry. I worry that something might come up in the future that I can’t explain. I worry that one day I or my children might see someone that looks eerily familiar to us, but we don’t know why.
Oftentimes, I wonder. I wonder what led a woman to give up her baby because I couldn’t imagine giving up mine. I wonder what she might be doing today… is she happily married with other kids or grandkids? Does my mom have biological siblings or other relatives? I wonder if she thinks about the day she delivered my mom. Did she hold her and talk to her? Tell her she loved her? I wonder if she ever thinks about my mom, ever thinks about the woman my mother became and the family my mother has. I wonder if she’s ever thought about finding my mom, finding me. Did my biological grandfather know my mom even existed? Was he supportive of the adoption process? Does he have another family of his own? Has he ever thought about my mom? I wonder if my mother’s personality comes from a particular person in that gene pool, if my personality comes from someone else.
Mostly, though, I’m grateful. I’m grateful to the woman who sacrificed herself to have a child knowing she wasn’t going to see it grow. I’m grateful to the woman who chose life. I’m grateful to the woman who made what I imagine was the most selfless and gut wrenching choice to give up her baby to strangers knowing she would never see it again or know anything else about it. I’m grateful she chose my grandparents to raise my mother. I’m grateful she loved my mother enough to know she couldn’t be the parent she needed and found people that could be. I’m grateful she gave my mom the best chance at life.
So though I may always have certain questions about my biology and hypothetical long lost relatives, there is one thing I know for certain – Biology doesn’t mean family and I am blessed with a great family.
To the woman who gave up my mother for adoption all those years ago, I’d like to say, thank you. You made a choice I’ve never had to make and you did it with class. Because of you, I exist, my children exist, and (hopefully) one day, my grandchildren will exist. You may or may not know it but you gave us the greatest gift a person can give… you gave us a chance to live.