When I was younger, I dreamed of marrying my true love in a beautiful church with stained glass windows. I dreamed that I’d live in a white painted cottage-style home with a cherry-red door, and a giant tree swing would hang in the front yard where I’d push my two boys in denim overalls and two girls in matching dresses. My baby names were picked out. My maternity clothes were selected. Adoption, however, was never part of the plan.
Sometimes our most thought-out plans can be tailored to something greater than we ever anticipated. Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace adoption as a beautiful part of my life:
I am a birth mom of one college-age daughter.
I am a biological mom of three teen boys.
I am an adoptive mom of one adventurous ten-year-old son.
Adoption is hard. It’s so very hard. And, it’s beautiful. Adoption is heartbreakingly beautiful.
I understand the complexities of adoption.
I’ve lived them.
I live them.
Adoption never leaves you. For the adoptee, it’s a journey that spans a lifetime. Being adopted is an experience we didn’t ask for, or even cause. There are real and raw moments when it seems that the pain and confusion of adoption cannot be overcome. Asking why, often times, seems pointless when answers are hard to find. Adoption can seem unfair. Unjust. Adoption can hurt. You may wonder if you’ll ever move beyond the disempowering feelings.
CPS stood on my doorstep at 11:00 pm, with a sleepy one year old boy. We have been anticipating his arrival since we got the call, early this afternoon.
He’s had a rough day. A day not many of us can even fathom. Since we received confirmation he was coming, I have been eager to comfort him.
I look at him and I know, “This is going to wreck me.”
I scoop him from the social worker. Holding his innocence in my arms—losing a bit of my own. Committing to carrying the weight of his world, the good and the bad. Preparing to hear his story. Ready to give him all we have…
I watched, this morning, the comments of Tom Brokaw on yesterday’s NBC broadcast, Meet the Press. Quite frankly, I am sickened. Let me preface my thoughts by saying that I try hard not to delve deeply into politics. The state of our government, currently, is not one I care to argue with people about. I have my beliefs, I know my values. I will always do and vote in alignment with what is core and foundational within me. I can’t change anyone else.
Mr. Brokaw’s comments, however, felt like a direct punch to the gut. As I get up off of the floor and catch my breath, I know that I cannot go silently through the day. There’s too much at stake here. And, I wonder why Mr. Brokaw and so many other Americans fear families like mine. In their closed off social corners, I wonder why families like mine offend them so.
This week has been a week of powerful connections. I’ve connected with incredible people doing the work of adoption awareness in Colorado, Australia, New Zealand, and beyond.
I’ve linked with adoptees who are brave and courageous, taking on the journey of finding themselves. Facing the fear of rejection and disappointment. Walking through that fear.
It’s a long and difficult walk. Adoptees have, for far too long, been told what to think, feel, and believe. We’ve been silenced, judged, and misunderstood. Adoptees are a population of people who have had basic rights taken from them: the right to freedom of information, the right to dignity of identity, and the right to know their full story—their history.
I was a small girl when my mother told me I was adopted. Though I was too young to remember her exact words, I will never forget my feelings. I felt sorry for my friends who weren’t adopted. My mother had just told me what, by the age of seven, I had already felt; that my parents loved me unconditionally and that they had ached with longing for a child.
When I grew old enough to understand my birthmother’s role, I realized that I had been doubly blessed. A girl who couldn’t raise me had loved me enough to give me to someone who could. This selfless person knew that motherhood is more than playing house and that her ultimate responsibility was ensuring the best for the baby she had brought into the world.
Will I love more kinds of people than ever before in 2019? This question was posed in my church on Sunday. I sat in my seat, closed my eyes, and focused in. Will I love more kinds of people…? It was a question of diversity. Surely my life is filled with a diverse kind of love, I thought to myself. After all, family diversity and far-reaching inclusivity are my topics of passion.
I’m an international adoptee, mom-by-international adoption, and believer in the power of embracing difference. I think we should, as my church community says, love everyone always.
My Adoption Story
“Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone, but still miraculously my own. Never forget for a single minute, you didn’t grow under my heart, but in it.” —Fleur Conkling Heyliger
March 24th will always be one of the most important days of my life. On this day, almost 29 years ago, I flew from Seoul, Korea, to Michigan to meet my forever family.
As an adult, I know that many stories begin like this. However, as a child, I never thought about what adoption really meant. I’m not quite sure my schoolmates knew either. My classmates just knew me as the girl who always shared cookies, cake, or cupcakes and celebrated her adoption every March 24th. Each year, my mom or dad helped educate my friends and classroom about my “Plane Day.” We would even bring in little folded handouts to give to everyone.
When you’ve been touched by adoption, you appreciate certain things that most people take for granted. For one, you realize the magnitude of being able to have a child that someone else gave birth to. Some people that go into adoption can’t have children and becoming a parent in this way brings so much clarity and appreciation. Little things get celebrated and seemingly meaningless dates become a big deal.
I spoke at a conference in San Diego this past weekend. The event— Embrace Who You Are—was organized by Oleg Lougheed and his non-profit group, Overcoming Odds.
Oleg has a vision to create space for adoptees to share their experiences and overcome their challenges. He believes, like I do, in the power of story. Yours, mine, and his.
The day was transformative! It further strengthened my long-standing opinion that adoptees have a universe of wisdom to share with the world. All we have to do is assure them that it’s safe to open up and let that wisdom flow.