It’s a Small World, by Rosemary C. McDonough

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.

In 1964, I visited the New York World’s Fair. I was intrigued by an exhibit called, “It’s a Small World.” This experience would hold an even more profound meaning, later in my life.

As an adult, I found myself under the care of a fertility specialist. Though he outlined several treatment options for my husband and I, our hearts were set on adoption. Three years later, we adopted our daughter. Four years after that, I stepped off a plane from Santiago, Chile, to place our new son in his father’s waiting arms.

It was clear that adoption would run in our family. Today, I watch as my Latin American son grows up beside a Chinese girl with a lyrical Italian name and Korean twins studying for their Bar Mitzvah. It seems, in ways even the World’s Fair could not imagine, that it is indeed a small world after all.

I once heard my daughter tell my son, “I’m half Irish and half Italian.” Then she added, “You’re half Irish and half Italian and half Chilean.” You may doubt our math, but never doubt this: We are a family.

—Rosemary C. McDonough


This story is an excerpt from Michelle Madrid-Branch’s book, Adoption Means Love: Triumph of the Heart. Real and raw, Adoption Means Love explores the many experiences and emotions of adoptees, adoptive parents, birthparents, foster youth, and foster parents.

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