This is the first in a multi-part series of posts sharing my personal adoption story.
I was born October 12, 1973. I was given up for birth at 5 days old and lived with a foster family until I was 5 weeks old when my pre-adoptive parents took custody of me. My parents had tried numerous times to have a biological child, but my mother often miscarried and had one still birth, prompting them to explore adoption through Catholic Charities. I have heard the story of my “Gotcha Day” countless times. My mother told it to me as a bedtime story when I was young. Even into my early teens, I would beg her to tell me the story of the day they brought me home. Although my Mother passed away in 2000, I still remember many details of the story she told.
My parents had begun the process to adopt through Catholic Charities. My Mom was 25 and my Dad was 29 at the time. When the licensing workers came out to inspect the house, they found a nursery filled with beautiful little girl dresses and they knew that my mother was hoping for a girl. The process seemed to take forever (although I don’t know actually how long it took). One day in November, they received the call that the people ahead of them on the list had declined a baby (me!) because they wanted to adopt a baby boy. My parents went down immediately to meet with my foster family. The family told them I was very particular about the way I liked things done, but that I was a good baby. They were able to take me home that very day. On the way home, they stopped at the rectory of the local church to show me off. Then, they went to my aunt’s house where my aunt and my grandparents were able to meet me. My mother was thrilled in every way to finally have a baby and be a mom.
Approximately a year later, my Mother found out she was pregnant once again. These are the first memories I have of knowing I was adopted. I remember, albeit vaguely, my mother explaining that my brother came from her tummy but that I had come from someone else’s tummy. My mother tells me that when I was brought to the hospital to meet my brother after his birth, I was very upset. I did NOT want to take home a baby in a BLUE blanket, I wanted one with a PINK blanket!
When I was 3, my adoptive parents divorced. We lived briefly with my grandparents and eventually moved into a low income apartment. I have some memories of this time, but not many. My mother worked hard to put herself through nursing school while caring for my brother and I.
When I was 5, my Mother again became pregnant. She had been dating a man, although he hadn’t wanted kids. He told her that he would marry her if she made it to 5 months pregnant. If she lost the baby, there would be no reason to marry a woman who had 2 other children from another man. She did ultimately marry him and gave birth to my younger brother just as I started first grade. They remained (unhappily) married until I was in my late teens.
Throughout my childhood, I was content with my life (as crazy as it was, but that’s a story for another post entirely) but curious about my roots. I would often wonder if I would run into my “family” without even knowing. I did not find any shame in having been adopted. In fact, I was proud of that fact, knowing my adoptive mom CHOSE me. Adoption was a part of who I was and I had no problem sharing it. I had several close friends that promised me they would help me search for my birth mother when I turned 18.
At one point in my teens, I started a diary to my birth mother. I shared personal things about how hard it was to be a teenager, thinking that one day I would share it with her and she would be able to relate to me and would know that I had thought of her over the years. I am not sure what prompted me to do this because I had never really felt “connected” to her. I could never understand why a woman of 19 years old could make the choice to give up her baby. People would always say “I am sure she wanted you to have a better life” but in my heart, I always believed that she was simply selfish.
Continue reading My Adoption Story in this post: Part II: The Search!