National Adoption Month Series: Christina’s Adoptee Story

I was born in Medellin, Colombia. My birth mother is a maid there, but I do not have any information on my birth father. Immediately after my birth I was sent to live in an orphanage in Medellin and was cared for by nuns. When I was fourteen months old I was adopted by a young couple from Grand Rapids, Michigan. My adoption was finalized in Colombia on October 17, 1983 and a few days later I left for the United States with my new parents. I was met at the airport by my new, extended family which is quite large.

This is a letter I wrote to my birth mother although she may never read it. It explains the depth of gratitude I feel towards her and the love I have experienced in my life since being adopted.

Dear Mother,

As a mother myself I can only imagine the heartache you must have felt sending me to an orphanage, hoping for a better life for me than you could provide. You knew me before the world did, as I grew from one cell to multiple cells, growing bigger every day. I kicked and punched and slept in your womb. I felt the love you had for me.

I often wonder, when I was born did you cry for me? Did your arms and heart ache for me? As a part of you, I believe you did. I know you wished you could have kept me and watch me grow. Mother, out of love you sent me on to a better life.

When I was still a baby, a new woman and man became my mom and dad and oh what a life they have given me. They watched me learn to walk and talk. They saw me fall and shared my joys and my sorrows. I know the joy that I brought them when they lost hope of having a child. I am a daddy’s girl and he is an amazing man, a God-fearing and loving man. My mom cuddled me, sang to me, played with me, and disciplined me. I know this is the childhood you wanted me to have with an extended family that adored and loved me. My grandparents were the most amazing people I have ever met and I was blessed to call them my grandmas and grandpas. Mother, you gave them a gift and your spirit was always with me.

I kept growing into a teen, and although I went through the typical teenage uncertainty and awkwardness, I was always extremely proud of who I was and still privileged with the life you gave me.  I grew into adulthood without too many incidents. As a young woman, I became a mother. At the birth of my daughter, I felt the elation you more than likely also felt when you saw me. There was a little sorrow in my heart though because you were not there to see this child being born. My mom was there and was able to share the birth with me. My daughter would not have been possible without you and your choice.

As a mother of three wonderful children now, I cannot fathom how you could have given me this life. These three children are the gift that would not have been possible without your sacrifice. Thank you, mother, for choosing life. Thank you for choosing adoption. This life I have is amazing. To quote a popular movie, “I never did thank you for this extraordinary life you gave me!” This is my thank you to you, a woman I may never again meet on this earth, but my spirit knows you and will see you in heaven.

My adoptive parents are amazing people who have raised me in the Light of Christ. I am beyond blessed with this life I have been given.

~~~~~

Christina is a single mom of three wonderful children. Being a mother is the most challenging yet rewarding job there is for her and she wouldn’t change one thing about being a mommy.

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National Adoption Month Series: Lauren’s Adoptee Story

I was born on August 11, 1985 and adopted by my parents at five days old in Phoenix, Arizona. My birthmom was 19, not ready for a baby and even though my birthdad wasn’t in the picture, she didn’t want him to have any part in raising me, so she chose adoption.

I grew up knowing I was adopted. While it was legally a closed adoption, my parents made the selfless choice to stay in contact with Ginger, my birthmother. They sent pictures and letters back and forth throughout my life. And although they didn’t know it at the time, she lived only a couple miles from them, even shopping at the same grocery store when we lived in Phoenix. Naturally, this probably freaked my mom out when she found out later.

When I was seven, my mom and dad moved my siblings (biological to my parents) and me to Holland, Michigan to be closer to my mom’s family. The letters with Ginger continued but began to wane as time went on. I grew up knowing I had a biological sister named Tayler, seven years younger than me who my birth mom decided to keep and raise on her own. I was always excited to know I had another sister.

At 14, when email started getting popular, I asked my parents if they would be okay with me emailing Ginger sometime. My mom, although a little nervous and insecure about it, agreed, and contacted the adoption agency in hopes of getting any up-to-date info on her since we didn’t have her email address. When we got it and I wrote my first email to her, I was so nervous. What should I write about? Teenager things, I guess. Honestly, I don’t even remember what I wrote, but it started my first line of communication between my birthmother and me. We didn’t email every day, just once in a while to say hello. Ginger had mentioned we should keep it to a minimum to respect my parents and not make them feel like they’d been replaced or that I wanted to go back to her. I agreed.

Two years later, in my junior year of high school, we began to email regularly, learning more and more about each other. We talked about our personal lives and I learned that in addition to Taylor, I also had a little brother who was two at the time, from her new marriage to her husband. Inevitably, the conversation about meeting in person happened. I was so excited, but so nervous, when I got that email. How would my mom feel? Would she be mad that even came up? Would she be angry that we had been communicating as much as we had?  Maybe she’d be okay with it if she came along to meet her? And so I had that conversation with her. To my surprise, she was thrilled, cautiously thrilled. Of course I’d expect her to be insecure about it. After all, I’m HER daughter. She’s the woman who raised me, fed me, took care of me when I was sick, disciplined me, taught me everything about life, hugged me and told me she loved me. But she was so excited I asked her to go with me to meet her. And so we booked our tickets to Phoenix.

We flew out there the week before I turned 18. I had just graduated from high school and was ready to find out where and whom I came from. My mom was a wreck on the plane; she hates to fly. I waited anxiously while my mom squeezed my hand the entire four hour flight. We landed in Phoenix and my heart began to race. Walking through the terminal into the lobby was surreal. I wanted to vomit, smile, scream, dance around, but instead, I just walked.

And then, there she was. Blonde hair, green eyes and short. It was like looking into a mirror. We hugged for what seemed like hours; I couldn’t let go. This was my mother, the woman who birthed me. The woman who chose life. This was the woman who selflessly gave up her firstborn daughter to a family who desperately wanted a baby after trying for seven years to have one of their own. The woman who gave birth to me on my daddy’s birthday, August 11th. I suddenly made sense. The first thing my mom said to Ginger and me was, ‘Wow, you both are shrimps! Now we know where Lauren gets her height!’ We all laughed and the ice was broken. I met her husband, Dane, my little sister Tayler, my little brother Mason and we all headed out of the airport a little less nervous.

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I spent the entire week with them, while my mom stayed with relatives in Phoenix. I asked Ginger every question I ever had. Why didn’t you keep me, but you kept Tayler? Why did you choose adoption? Why didn’t you fight for me? Why, why, why? She answered everything without sugar coating or dodging, just straight forward, which is exactly how I answer questions. I realized the concept of nature vs. nurture. I wasn’t raised by this woman but our mannerisms are the same, we sleep the same, laugh the same, smile the same, speak the same. Our personalities are so similar, it’s insane. I am bold, stubborn, kind-hearted, forgiving, strong-willed, direct, and I don’t take crap from people. Now I get why I had such an identity crisis as a kid; I am so different from my family in terms of personality, even down to my delivery of words and my thought process. I am all Ginger. Looks, personality, everything.

I also met my grandparents for the first time. I am the eldest of the grand kids, so it was very special to meet them. They cried and called me their granddaughter. I met my cousins and aunt and uncle for the first time and still have a great relationship with them. We celebrated my 18th birthday together with my mom and relatives before heading home, both of us feeling great about everything that happened that week. But also relieved it was over and excited to see my new family again in the future.

That was twelve years ago and there hasn’t been a year since where we haven’t seen each other. I visit Arizona every year and they have also visited Michigan a few times. I have taken vacations with them, been there for birthdays and holidays, surgeries, and various other events. Ginger has been by my side, watched me grow into an adult, heard listened to me talk about my silly relationships, met my husband and embraced him like a son. She attended our wedding on June 30, 2012 and my little sister Tayler was a bridesmaid. She and Dale look forward to being grandparents someday.

I’ve been able to watch my little sister grow into the woman she has become and watch my little brother grow into the feisty teenager that he is. We are family. I can’t say she is my mom, or an aunt, or friend, or whatever label you want to put on her. She is my family; her whole family is my family. There isn’t any other way to describe them. All I can say is that I am blessed. I am blessed to have parents who were so accepting of Ginger, allowed me to grow up knowing about her, let her be a part of my life, embraced her when she was a physical part of my life, and consider her family. I am so blessed to have a birthmother who is so strong and selfless, and respectful of my parents. She never stepped on their toes as parents, she is grateful to them for raising me how they did and proud to be a part of our family. She will always be there for us.

I am so blessed to have more family that loves me and who I can love. I am so blessed to have a husband who has only been supportive of the relationship I have with my birth family and eagerly waits for our next trip to visit them. I am so blessed to have a ‘dad’ in Ginger’s husband, Dane. He accepted me as part of his family, considers me his daughter, even though he came into the picture years after my adoption and encouraged Ginger to connect with me.

~~~~~

Lauren Haveman is a real estate agent for City2Shore Real Estate, She and her husband, Todd, reside in Hudsonville, Michigan with their two dogs, Dweezel and Lola and enjoy cooking, camping, and living the Michigan seasons to their fullest. Ginger and her husband continue to live in Phoenix AZ and Lauren and Todd still visit them every summer; it feels like their second home.

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National Adoption Month Series: Elysa’s Adoptee Story

The drive felt like it took hours even though it had only been minutes. My dad stopped the car in front of a white house, and I felt my heart stop beating for just a moment. Pink balloons decorated the inside of the garage where unfamiliar faces gathered. I took a deep breath and somehow got the feeling back in my hands so I could open the door. I was only 16 and I was about to walk into something most 16 year-olds don’t ever do.

I had wondered and questioned for so many years, and the time when I would see her face to face was here. I got out of the car, wearing one of my favorite outfits and my hair done up in curls. I started walking up the driveway which felt like miles and miles. Then I saw her: someone I had never seen before but felt a connection the moment our eyes met. With tears filling her eyes, she ran to me and hugged me as tight as she could. I mutually embraced her. She couldn’t let go of me as she cried.

The last time we saw each other was in a hospital room 16 years ago. She was my birth mother. She made a courageous choice 16 years ago. She chose life for me and for a family she knew could give me a better life than she could offer. She blessed a young couple who couldn’t have children of their own with me, and in return, she blessed me with a wonderful family to spend my life with.

I was adopted when I was 3 days old. My adoptive parents already had a daughter they had adopted a few years earlier. Adopting another child was not necessarily in their plans at the time, but it was certainly in God’s plans. My birth mother sought counsel from the Crisis Pregnancy Center knowing she did not want to go through an agency for my adoption. With this being an unfamiliar situation for the counselor, the founder of the center became involved. God’s hand was at work in incredible ways, for the founder was a dear friend of my adoptive parents. She immediately contacted them and told them about a 19-year-old girl who was pregnant and needing a home for her baby. They felt this was clearly God’s plan for them to adopt me, and I became part of their family.

Growing up, I always knew I was adopted. In fact, just the other day, I was discussing this with my parents, and I thanked them. I thanked them for raising me with the knowledge of my adoption. It showed that they saw my adoption as a beautiful thing and were proud of it. For anyone who has adopted or is considering adoption, no matter the situation, telling your child about their adoption is the best gift you can ever give them. Not only is it the honest thing to do, but being adopted is so beautiful and special: in fact, it was God’s idea.

Knowing that I was adopted growing up was wonderful, but I always had many questions. My parents were always very good about answering them the best way they could. But as the years went on I wanted to know about my birth family: Where is my birth mom now? Where is my birth dad? Is there anyone that I look like…share the same personality with? Does my birth family ever think about me? Do I have any siblings? The curiosity was something I could never help. I had the security of knowing that I was truly blessed to be adopted into a family that took me in as their own, loved me unconditionally, and always respected the fact that I was going to have questions. Still, there were a lot of unknowns,

My curiosity increased as I got older. When I was 15, I talked to my parents about taking steps to contacting my birth mother. My parents, understandably, were hesitant because of how much was unknown. There is a risk in taking these steps. After 15 years, we didn’t have any idea where my birth mother was in life. Would she want to hear from me? Would her reaction to my contact be healing, or would it affect me negatively?

After much prayer, my parents agreed that it was the right time, and I began to work on my letter to her. At first, it was hard to think of where to start. What do you say to someone you have no relationship with, don’t know at all, but still have a deep connection with? Eventually, I found the words I wanted to say, wrote the letter, and included a few pictures in the envelope. Once again, God’s hand was working.

Overjoyed upon receiving my letter, my birth mother wrote back to me. Words cannot describe the feeling I had when I opened that letter. Pictures of her, my half-brother and some of her friends were included in the envelope. My heart was beating so fast as I looked through the pictures and read her words. I could feel the emotion in her letter, and I felt so much joy in knowing that she wanted nothing more than to know me.

After many letters back and forth between the two of us, my parents agreed to take a trip to North Carolina to meet my birth mother. That is when my relationship with her began. In all honesty, building a relationship with a birth mother is not easy at all. It takes a lot of learning along the way and a lot of understanding. You see, I wasn’t in need of a mother at all. In fact, God blessed me with an incredible mom who adopted me and called me her own. To learn how to have a relationship with someone who can feel the need to mother is hard at times. It has taken several years for me to learn how to separate things and make the relationship a friendship in respect for my adopted mom who has dedicated many years to being my mom.

The last several years, I have continued to build relationships with my extended birth family. My uncle has become an incredible part of my life and has been a great support and encouragement and I have loved getting to know my birth grandma who has always shown such love to me and has taken the time to get to know me. But what I have appreciated the most in my process of getting to know my birth family is seeing how truly blessed I am to be raised by the parents God gave me.

There is a lot of divorce in my birth family and, unfortunately, a lot of relationships there are broken and estranged. That was all very new to me. Growing up, I never experienced divorce in my family or my extended family. Everyone loves each other, everyone forgives and respects one another. Being part of my birth family’s life is truly a gift, and I wouldn’t change it for the world, but I am beyond grateful that I didn’t have to grow up in divorce and broken families. God had a plan for my life, and His sovereignty in my life is overwhelming to think about.

Now, at 24 years-old, I continue to be in relationship with my birth family. Just this year I met my birth dad for the first time. It took many years for him to agree to meet me and it was many years of me having to remind myself that it’s not my fault that he didn’t want to take that step. It took a lot in me not to feel abandoned by him or hurt from him. I knew that if God intended for my birth dad to be a part of my life, then it would happen someday. What helped through that process was the fact that I was adopted by the best daddy a girl could ask for. I didn’t need a dad, but there was still an empty space I had before meeting my birth dad. It was a space I could have lived the rest of my life having, but I am thankful I didn’t have to. After meeting my birth dad, I learned a lot about him and have gained understanding about why he wasn’t ready to meet me right away. I felt the same feelings when meeting him as I did meeting my birth mother eight years ago. I’m not sure why I lose the feeling in my hands every time I step into these situations, but it has happened twice now! But meeting my birth dad was so special for me! I am truly grateful for the relationship I am building with him today and for his interest in my life. I love having him a part of it.

Today I have an even stronger appreciation for adoption. God’s sovereignty is what comes to mind when I think about the story God has written for my life. Being adopted is a huge part of who I am, and I intend to raise my own children with an appreciation for it as well. 24 years ago, a 19-year-old girl faced an extremely difficult choice: a choice that affected not only one person, but many. She chose life.

~~~~~

Elysa is a mommy to three and a wife to one incredible man. She is a business owner, photographer and has a heart for ministry. Following Christ and striving to live a life Glorifying HIM in all that she does. You can catch some of her writing at the collaborative blog, www.artichokeheartsblog.blogspot.com.

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