what I want you to know: being an adopted child

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. This guest post is by Val.

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I was adopted right after I was born. My birth mother was young and decided she could not care for me, so I was brought to my family that I know now. I had a wonderful childhood, great parents, and amazing siblings. It was a really great experience for me. My family is the only family I have known and I honestly can never say that I felt like I wasn't a part of them because I wasn't born into it. Some even say that I look like I was meant to be a part of their family. And it is because I was.

I have grown up being very open and honest about my adoption.  I have a great mom that talked to me about it.  Was always honest and always let me know that if I ever wanted to find my birth mom she would support me and help me however she could.  It was never a subject that was taboo or off limits.  I had adopted friends that were not told until a later age and it wasn't something they were allowed to talk about.  Many of them have/had such negative feelings toward being adopted.  I feel lucky that I don't.  I have always been interested in adoption.  I worked for an adoption agency in college and am now in the process of adopting my son from Haiti.  To me, adoption is a way to create and grow a family.  My family. 

And although it all seems so perfect, I also want you to know that when you are adopted, a part of you believes that you are unwanted. That something about you made someone else decide to discard you. No matter how great your family is, how wonderful your experience, this is always in the back of your head. It feels like rejection. And of the worst possible kind.  It isn't something you necessarily think about daily, but it can creep in at any moment and cripple you just when you think things are going ok.  It can wreak havoc on parts of your life that are totally not related to you being adopted.  Your job, your relationship with your spouse, your relationship with your own children.   

That being said, when I worked with birth moms at the adoption agency, I realized that no matter what, no mother doesn't love her child. Her decision to give you up, is and will be, the most selfless act she will do. She is a teenage mom, a woman in her career prime, or maybe just unable to care for a child. They all agonize with the decision and love their child and only want what is best. They decide that they cannot do that for you. They give you to someone that can. It is truly an amazing thing. And while the "rejection" feeling never quite goes away (and molds a part of you) I can say I get it. I understand. And I thank my birth mom every day for giving me this gift. This life. This family.

What I want you to know is that adoption is an great way to build families.  It isn't any better than any other way, but it is important and it makes a difference to the child and the family.   The love and caring that goes into adopting a child is a force that can heal.  If you are an adoptive parent, I thank you.  I thank you for fighting so hard for your child and loving them and giving them a home that someone else who really wanted to couldn't. 

Being adopted isn't my identity.  But it is a part of me and it defines a part of me.  I am proud of it and I am proud of my family.  

Here is a picture of my family with my daughter (who is my biological child) and husband.  Our son still resides in Haiti and we cannot wait to get him home, added to our portrait, making our family complete. 

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