Since starting to openly talk about our decision to adopt, I have found several people in my life whose lives have been personally touched by adoption. Two of my immediate co-workers (out of 15 or so) were adopted as babies, there are two doctors in my department that have adopted babies, several of my extended co-workers have either adopted or were adopted. This is both fascinating and awesome to me! So, over the next few months, I’ll be talking with some of these folks and getting some answers to questions that hopefully will help J&I in our parenting of adoptees.
Below, is the conversation between my work pal, Sammi and I. Sammi is super friendly, outgoing, loving and fun. She works hard, plays harder, and loves even harder than she works. Sammi was adopted at 4 days, and has never met her biological parents; she was raised in a family with older brothers and an adopted younger sister. She has since married, suffered multiple miscarriages, raised a beautiful family, and has since divorced. Through it all, as she has started looking through the storybook that is her life, she says she can’t help but wonder if her adoption has played a role in her self esteem and the way she sees life.
G: Do you remember finding out you were adopted?
S: I was 5 or 6 years old but don’t really remember how they told me. But I was told all my life I was “a special angel given to my mom an dad.”
G: What is your family like?
S: My family consisted of my mom and dad (who was quite a bit older than my mom). He was previously married and lost his first wife to cancer. When I was adopted my three older brothers were in their late teens; one was heading into the army, the others were still in school. My dad owned quite a few businesses; a gas station, a bait and tackle shop, and a mattress box frame company. Plus we had two farms – one was cattle, wheat and soybeans, and the other was a walnut tree farm.
G: Do you look like your family at all?
S: No. Not at all. I feel after a while we did start to look like each other… Many were really surprised that I did not belong to my mom. *laughter* My adopted sister has dark hair and is thin.
G: Did you ever go through a phase of feeling upset you were adopted?
S: As far as I remember, we never felt that way. Carrie, my sister, is four years younger than I.
G: When did you decide you wanted to track down your birth parents?
S: I decided to try to track down my parents when I lost my first child to a miscarriage at 5 months. I decided I wanted to know what my medical history was. It hurt my mom like crazy, she was afraid that I wnted to replace her and was afraid I would get hurt in the outcome.
G: Has your sister ever trie dto find her bilogical parents?
S: No. She has never had any interest in finding out anything about her parents.
G: So how did you go about the search process?
S: I started with a free site and got a lot of things filled out. But then it go to the point that they wanted money to continue the search and I pretty much decided to drop the search. But back in my head I am still curious about her.
G: What sort of information were you hopeful to find from her?
S: The only information I really wanted was medical, since my adoption was closed. I still, to this day, think that medical records/history should be available to the child so we can know our history.
G: Have you ever wondered about how your biological mother named you? If she went through names she liked, thought about how they would fit you, knowing she would be giving you up?
S: I’ve never really thought about if my birth mother named me for herself. I was told my grandmother, AKA Grammie, was the one who named me… Samantha Ann… Never knew why or anything.
G: How much do you know about the circumstances of your biological parents’ relationship?
S: I was told that my real father was not wanting another child and that is why my mother put me up for adoption. Plus it did take her 4 days to sign the papers.
G: Are you glad you had a closed adoption, or would you rather have had the option to know your parets?
S: I couldn’t have had a better childhood. But as I get older, I wish I had the chance to get to know my biological mother for health reasons. I would never change it for anything cause my life I was spoiled rotten. My feet never hit the ground with my dad and I was his little princess. We did everything together. I lost him when I was only 8 years old and his still missed daily.
G: Tell me about your parents’s decision to adopt.
S: From what I understand my dad couldn’t have anymore kids and after he lost his first wife he really didn’t think he would marry again. When he married my mother they decided they wanted more children and decided to adopt. That is how I came into their picture and then 4 years later they adopted my little sister, Carrie.
G: Did you ever le while you were fighting?
S: Yeah, I was the little black sheep of the family. So yes, I did say a few times, “Fine, I will go find my REAL mom and she will want me now.” Oooohhhh, that did not go over well! Normally meant I got my butt beat… One day she said, “Fine, pack your bag and go look for her.” I just looked at her in shock and went to my room and cried.
G: Last question: Could you imagine either giving up a child for adoption, or adopting a child?
S: When I found out about my third child I was so scared. I was single and dating her father, but had no clue how in the world I was going to take care of this baby on my own. He was married, but planning to divorce his wife and I was strange to a new town in a new state. So yes, it scared the poop out of me. But then I thought I couldn’t do that and be the parent saying, “What if…” If I could, I would adopt a child one at a time. I was going to, but things just weren’t in the plans. Instead, I had a fourth child, my last, Matthew.
Sammi went on to say, “I still walk around wondering if my birth mom is still alive, if I have ever run into her in public. If I did run into her, would I instantly fell that, “Oh wow, you are my mom” type thing. I think my adoption does effect my self esteem and confidence due to feeling I was never really wanted. But then I KNOW I was wanted by my adopted family. As my aunt told me one day, “Sammi Ann, we were chosed to recieve a special angel and that angel was you.”
After talking with Sammi, I know there are going to be difficult conversations to have. Self esteem to build up. Questions to answer. And battles to fight. But you know what? EVERY single one of my friends and family that are raising kids have difficult conversations to hold. Self esteem to build, questions to answer, and battles to fight. That’s parenthood. That’s raising a child. That’s living for more than self. And we’re ready for that!
Thank you, Sammi, for opening up to me. For answering some tough questions, and digging back to some long forgotten parts of childhood. Thank you for being such an example of how well-rounded and successful our little adopted baby can be!