The Blog

What Is It Like to Be Adopted?

I know some people think they were adopted. They feel they are from another family because they're not like the rest of their family. This note is not about them.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

I know some people think they were adopted. They feel they are from another family because they're not like the rest of their family. This note is not about them. I intend to talk about people like me whose mothers gave us away. No, it's not like my mom died or something, which would have been different.

So to my birth mom, I never met you, but I wrote a letter to you that was published in a local newspaper about ten years ago. To my birth dad, I didn't meet you either. But I wrote you a letter that was placed in another newspaper last year. Both letters were to thank both of you for having me. Mom, Dad, I think one of you was a musician.

For you, Mom, I thanked you for having the courage to give me up for adoption. It took faith in humanity. At least I think so. Why? I have two grown children of my own, and I could not imagine giving either of them up for adoption, so it must have been really, really bad for you. I am so sorry.

Is It Different Now?

I was born in 1950, and adoptions are very different now in some ways. But moms that have to give up their kids probably aren't that much different today than they were back then. Teen pregnancies have become a lot more prevalent these days. Normally the young mothers are forced to make a decision. The mothering instinct tries to take over most times, but then these young mothers start wishing that they could undo what has been done. And at that point, they have no option but to admit that they don't really want their babies.

It sucks to be unwanted, I know. But guess what? Lots of kids aren't wanted.

Too many kids are made to grow up in yucky families with alcoholic dads or even no dads at all. They are born in all manner of squalor and some are made to live in what can best be described as oppression. These kids grow up in terrible living conditions. Heck some of them have no access to good food, clean water, clothes and shoes, or even a roof.

Luck Plays a Huge Part

2016-02-03-1454532341-3199352-photodune10915043closeupofwomanandlittlegirlholdinghandss.jpg

I was lucky. My adopted mom and dad REALLY wanted me. They had to put up with paperwork, nosy social workers, and tons of red tape in order to adopt me. I didn't realize how lucky I was until I became an adult. I was lucky to be adopted and taken from the foster home. I was lucky to have great parents who cared enough to make me do my homework and chores, and paid for piano and ballet lessons. I am not just lucky, but grateful.

I am grateful and feel so lucky because there are thousands of kids out there who didn't get the chance I got. These parentless kids never were adopted. They might live with an aunt, uncle, distant relatives, or in foster homes. Some of them live at the grace of non-profit agencies and churches that try to help them. Many of them live on the streets.

Whether or not you're adopted, there are no guarantees. But it still hurts to know that someone gave you up. It hurts to know that you were tossed out. I understand how frustrating it is. But I am left with two choices: I can wallow in it. I can say that my birth mom didn't love me. Or I can totally reframe it. I can accept that she couldn't raise me herself and loved me enough to trust that someone else, anyone else, would do a better job.

So I'll say it again.

"Thanks mom. Wherever you are, you rock."

I'll also say thanks to my adopted mom and dad. It took a whole lot of courage and a barrel of sacrifice for them, too!

As for kids that are with their biological parents, you may be lucky or not. I mean, you may have been dealt a poker hand with no matching cards. Or you may have been dealt a great hand, a good life, but then things changed. Either way, you are still left with the choice of doing something great with your life or whining about the hand life dealt you.

Alternatively, you may be the mom trying to decide whether to keep a child you didn't want, can't raise, and can't abort. I can't tell you what to do. All I can tell you is that life is not guaranteed no matter where, how, when, and to whom you are born. The best thing to do is still to make the most of the cards you have. Wasting time trying to undo or to rethink what could have been is just that: wasting precious time.

Life Is a Gift

Trite but true: Life is a gift with pretty ribbon and glittery paper some days. On other days, the box gets squished. The wrapping is torn. The contents weep out the sides. I don't know why it happens the way it does, but I do know that being adopted is just as much a gift as being born into a family. It's just a different ribbon around the box.