Adoption: Nothing Like It

When I wrote about the similarities between my father and me this past Wednesday, I purposely omitted one important fact: I’m adopted. So those similarities have nothing to do with my adoptive father. Not knowing the identity of my birth parents or anything about them, not even their medical history, I can’t say which of my characteristics are like those of my birth father.

But that’s okay. This post isn’t about heredity vs. environment.  So let me move on.

Several days ago I was talking with an author friend who adopted a baby from China. When I say “from,” I’m being literal. As I understand it, she actually traveled to China to pick her baby-to-be up and bring her back to the States. She was raving to me about what a wonderful experience raising an adopted child was for her.

It’s no wonder she had this to say about adoption. “Adoption is a wonderful thing! Any child who was adopted can know that they were truly wanted.”

Of course she wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t already know. My adopted daughter, Kristi, will be twenty-nine this year, and she, her husband, her son, and her yet-to-be-born second son live way too far away in another state. But one of many things my adoptive parents did right was to rear me to be independent, and that’s a quality I gladly encouraged in Kristi.

My (now ex-) wife and I had never had any reason to think about adoption. Especially once she got pregnant. Beth’s birth in August of 1976 was a joyous time…until she died unexpectedly three days later. It turned out that her heart was not properly formed and the condition she had would normally have resulted in her death at birth. For whatever reason–most likely a gift from God–she didn’t. If you want to read what I wrote about that time in our lives, go here. But make sure you have a good supply of tissues nearby.

Debbie never got pregnant again, and it wasn’t for lack of effort. She even arranged to have microsurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital to correct what seemed the likely problem. That didn’t help.

Eight years later we found ourselves living in Richmond, Virginia. Still childless. We decided to adopt, even though we were all too familiar with the stories about how long it takes to get a baby. To the best of my knowledge, we never considered adopting a child or someone with known medical problems.

We learned of Kristi’s availability during November of 1987. She was six or seven months old at the time and had been living in a foster home. The adoption agency provided us with basic family medical info, but nothing more except her birth mother was an unmarried upper teen and she’d been born in Newport News. (Even now Kristi periodically calls or texts and asks, “Once more, where was I born?” Too funny.)

We fell in love with her instantly, although that red hair should’ve made us think twice about possible temperament problems. But that wouldn’t have stopped us even if it had made us apprehensive. We already loved her. Do you recall the Savage Garden song “I Loved You Before I Knew You”? Even though that’s a love song, it describes our feelings for Kristi perfectly.

For the greater part, Kristi was a wonderful child and has grown into a fine adult. One we’re quite proud of.

One thing her adoption did perfectly was to make her a pro-life advocate. How could it not have done that?  She knows that her birth mother loved her enough not to abort her…and enough to allow her to become the child of a couple who could provide her with the kind of family she herself could not have done.

We know other people who’ve adopted. Jenny and Athos, close friends who adopted while living in Brazil and have now become birth parents to a second son and are awaiting the birth of a girl now; Isaac, a former co-worker, and Alice, who somehow learned of a baby available for a private adoption. Jonathon and his wife, who made numerous trips to Africa to finalize the adoption, even though they already had two kids; a sweet couple at church. And my author friend.

Ask any of them. They’ll all tell you the same thing.  “Adoption? There’s nothing like it.”

What’s your take on adoption? How about sharing a comment?

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Best regards,
Roger

The Parents I Never Knew

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(Me with my adoptive parents. My adopted daughter twenty-some years ago. Click on pictures for larger image.)

The folks I consider my parents adopted me. It must have been a private adoption since they were able to take me home directly from the hospital, Jackson Memorial in Miami, Florida. My father was in his first pastorate after graduating from seminary (and that was after practicing law for a while), serving a church in Hollywood, Florida.

I was still fairly young when they told me about my adoption, but the fact of being adopted didn’t bother me. In fact, I almost forgot about it.

Only as an adult did it occur to me to wonder who my birth parents were and what the circumstances were. Yet I didn’t get as curious as many adopted children do.

Good thing. My parents–my mother, anyhow–got really upset at the prospect of my searching for my birth parents. So upset that I set that idea aside until after my father’s death in 1993 and my mother’s the following year.

I know information about adoptions is supposed to be easier to find now, especially with tons of resources on the Internet. But I wasn’t prepared to spend countless hours on a project that might dead end or even lead to a family that wouldn’t welcome hearing from me at this stage of their lives.

So I’ve never pursued the search for my birth family. Since I’m 68 now, my birth parents would probably be fairly ancient–if they’re even still alive. But since I’m an only child and have very few family contacts left, I do wish I knew whether I had siblings.

But the desire to find out isn’t strong enough to make me start searching.

After all, I’ve always thought of my adoptive parents as my parents. Shouldn’t that be enough?

(By the way, I may have unwittingly passed up a chance to learn something immediately after my father’s death. He kept detailed diaries for a number of years, although I don’t know how far back they went. Although he willed those to the Virginia Baptist Historical Society, I could have perused them before turning them over.)

Note: My daughter is adopted. At one point she thought she’d want to try to find her birth mother, but I haven’t heard anything about that in years now, so I assume she’s either changed her mind or is too busy to start looking. Unlike my mother, I wouldn’t object to her looking, when and if she chooses to.

So, tell me. Are you adopted? If so, can you relate to my story? Please leave a comment about adoption even if you grew up with your birth parents.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

Best regards,
Roger