“Why am I the way that I am?” A question I have asked myself an increasing number of times as I grow older, and one I imagine countless others have as well. Since I’m adopted, I couldn’t really look at my family and get answers to that self-examination, having never really given it much thought until I was in my late teens.
As the years go on, I’ve found myself observing my friends, their parents, siblings, and others, and even my own family, looking for common traits — facial features, build, mannerisms— hereditary components that make that person who they are.
A⠂dop⠂tion, defined as the action or fact of legally taking another’s child and bringing it up as one’s own, or the fact of being adopted. Every year there are about 135,000 children adopted in the United States, of which about 15% are considered “voluntarily relinquished” babies, meaning a child under the age of 6 weeks whose parents are making the choice of adoption for the child. I’m part of the 15% since I was put up for adoption, and placed with a family by the time I was 3 weeks old. Of course, my adoption story isn’t like every other adoption story, none are really.
My story begins about 9 years before I was born, in “Small Town, USA”. My parents had just had their second child, their second daughter, and due to complications during the delivery, my Mom’s doctor advised against having another child through natural means. Over the course of the next nine years, my parents talked about adopting a boy, but it remained only that — talk. My parents were regular church-goers, and one Sunday they met a missionary who was visiting their church that week as a guest speaker. They talked after the service, where my parents revealed their desire to adopt a child after the missionary had shared his story of adopting a child. Offering advice on how to start the process, he gave them the names of a few Christian adoption centers and told them to talk to their lawyer.
A few months went by, and another missionary was at the church guest speaking. During a post-service conversation with them, he too had a story about adopting a child. Excited by what they were hearing, my parents took in his advice on how to proceed. On the way home from church that day, they stopped for gas. Some may call it chance, some may say by fate, but surprisingly their lawyer was at the next pump over. They spoke, asking him if he handled adoptions, to which he replied, “Yes, but call my office next week. I’m about to leave on vacation!”
About 10 days after seeing him at the gas station, an appointment was made to go to his office where preliminary papers were filled out. Upon parting, their lawyer said, “If you hear of someone, or if I hear of someone who wants to give up a baby for adoption, we’ll let the other one know.” In late August/Early September, a close family friend (who later became my Godmother) invited my Mom and my sisters to her church to see a special movie that was showing. While enjoying refreshments in the basement afterward, my Mom’s friend pointed out a young pregnant woman in the room and mentioned that she was looking to give her baby up for adoption. My Mom didn’t have the nerve to speak to her, but her friend did, so she approached and inquired further about her circumstances to see if she’d already made a decision about giving up the baby.
The family friend was unable to ascertain any positive feedback concerning her plans, understandable since she was essentially put on the spot, but also because as it would turn out, I was already promised to somebody else. My parents called their attorney the next day, and explained the situation to him, not knowing what they should do. He told them, “Don’t do anything else, I’ll take care of it.”
As mentioned, the town where this was all happening was not very large, so it was pretty common for nearly everyone there to know everyone else - that’s small-town living — however, my biological mother didn’t know my parents, so she asked her father about them after telling him the events of the past few days. Her father recognized my Dad’s name and knew him to be a good man because as it turns out, my Dad was their mailman. As I said, it was a small town. When she inquired if she should give me away to them, he exclaimed, “Praise the Lord, yes, give the baby to them!” A day later my biological Mother signed paperwork with the attorney, agreeing to place me with my parents, and later that day, they received a call from their attorney congratulating them. Bear in mind, this sequence of events from the gas station forward, occurred over the course of just 3 weeks, an incredible timeline by today’s standards.