Sunday, November 27, 2011

Adult Adoptee

I reached out to a couple of my birth mother friends for an adult adoptee and was given Camille's contact info... not only is she awesome because she's adopted but because she has the same name as my mother. haha!  So here is her story.

Hi, my name is Camille, and I was adopted at birth. To give you an idea of how forthcoming my parents were about me being adopted, I don’t have any memories of a time when I did not know that I was adopted. In my prayers each night, with my parents helping me, I would thank my Heavenly Father for my birthmother and birthfather and pray that they would be happy and know that our family loved them. When I would go to sleep, I would get two hugs and kisses from both of my parents, one from them, and one from my birthparents. Growing up I had very blonde hair, but the rest of my family had dark hair, and when people asked me where my blonde hair came from, I told them “from my birthmother.” It was always just known, talked about, and never a secret from anyone. I always liked that I was adopted too; it made me different, and special in a way. Most people only have one mommy and daddy who love them, but I have two mommies and daddies, and twice the love!

For the most part, I never felt misplaced or strange for being adopted, and my (awesome) mom always had the best explanations for my questions. I remember when I was around three, and my mom was pregnant with my little sister, it dawned on me that I hadn’t grown in my mommy’s tummy, but in someone else’s and that was who my birthmother was. I wrote to my birthmother around my birthday every year, including pictures of myself, drawings I had done, and such, and I loved getting letters back from my birthmom. We were pen pals, and I loved getting mail with my own name on it. When I was about to turn eight, I asked my mom if I could find out what my birthparents looked like, and if I could tell them my first name, and ask for their first name too. She thought it was a great idea, and I remember her helping me with my letter. That birthday letter was amazing, I found out their first names, received several pictures of my birthmom, one of my birthdad, and one of a half sister I didn’t know about! I had never seen anyone who looked like me, and it was so exciting to be able to see who I looked like.

After that year, the letters just unexpectedly stopped. I wrote several times after, but never got any replies back. As I got into my teenage years, I felt hurt and angry at my birthmother for just disappearing without any explanation. Many times, I caught myself wishing that I had never heard anything from her at all, because then it wouldn’t hurt so much to suddenly have that contact taken away. I’m pretty sure that all teens go through some sort of identity crisis, wondering “who they really were.” That uncertainty was greatly amplified because of my adoption, and I would get angry about having all these questions, and not being able to talk to anyone who had the answers. I also would occasionally feel guilty knowing that my birthparents were probably scared and hurt by getting pregnant with me, and I felt like it was in a way my fault for causing this pain.

After several years of no contact, my friends would ask me if I ever wanted to meet my birth family. I knew I would be able to open my files when I turned 21, and that the possibility of meeting them was there, but I wasn’t so sure I wanted to open that door. I was happy with my family, and I was scared of getting hurt again. I know now, that I wasn’t the only one with uncertainty, pangs of guilt, and the perception that it was more to deal with than we were able to handle. After talking it through with my birthmother, I harbor no resentment toward her and only mention it so that other birthmothers won’t repeat the same course of action.

I met my husband during the Fall of 2008 at the university I was attending, and we were married the next June. I was 20 years old and the age that I could open my files was getting closer. My mother-in-law, who was also adopted, would ask me about opening them quite often. I was happy with the family I had, and didn’t feel like I needed to meet my birth family. My mother-in-law had found her birth family about when my husband was born, and loved knowing them. She encouraged me to soften my heart and consider at least opening up some sort of communication with them. I still wasn’t sure about what I would do, but I had until the next March to decide.

One November morning, I got a call from my mom in between classes. My adoption agency had called and told her that my birthmother had started her side of the paper work, and was wondering if I would be interested in starting my own paper work to open my file. I was shocked. After all this time of not hearing from her, she was back and wanted contact again. Over the next few days I went through a wide range of emotions, excited, fear, anger, but more than anything, nervous. I spoke with a counselor at the agency a few times about my options and the possible outcomes. In the end, I decided to go through with it, and at least write to her again. I sent her a letter with my e-mail address, a few wedding pictures of my husband and me, and then I waited.

The day before New Years Eve, I got a letter. Since I had heard from her last, she had gotten married, had another son, and was running a day care center. I ran inside our apartment to check my e-mail. She had gotten my letter the same day, and had already e-mailed me. We spent the next three days e-mailing back and forth almost constantly, just asking and answering each others’ questions.

Eventually we exchanged phone numbers as well, and started texting. I decided that I wanted to meet her face-to-face, and see how that would go. We set a date to meet at the adoption agency. The whole week I was anxious, and driving up, I was a nervous wreck. When we walked into the room, my birthmom and two half siblings were there already. It was so strange seeing them all in real life. She cried seeing me, but strangely, I didn’t. I felt calm, relaxed, and happy to finally be meeting the woman who had so selflessly placed me within my wonderful family, and had given me the opportunity to have such a great life. We talked for a while, looked at pictures, and watched a video they had taken of me while in the hospital. It was going really well, so we decided to go out to dinner together. She called her husband, who met us at the restaurant. The rest of the evening went exceptionally well; joking around, lots of laughing, and I felt an instant connection with their entire family.

My birthmom had some information about my birthdad, and got his e-mail address for me. I sent him an e-mail, and he wanted to communicate with me as well! I had previously had contact with my birthmom when I was younger, but nothing at all with my birthdad, and it had never occurred to me that my birthdad would want to talk to me as well! We e-mailed back and forth as well, and decided to meet up for dinner a few weeks later.

This meeting was a little more awkward. I knew less about him, and he knew far less about me. Plus, he’s a guy, so it was just different communicating with him. He brought his wife and stepdaughter, who I just fell in love with, and throughout the meal, we all warmed up to each other, and had a good time.

Throughout the next few months, I would meet up with either my birthmom or birthdad for different events. Slowly, we have gotten to know each other, and I have loved having them become a part of my life. My parents have been so supportive of this journey of finding my birth family. My mom put it best—in the end, we’re all part of the same heavenly family, and there is plenty of room to love everyone. I feel the same way, the more the merrier and I love having so many family members to love.

Last winter, when my husband and I found out we were pregnant; we had fun telling all four sets of future grandparent the joyous news of the event that would take place in the fall. For my daughter, I feel she has been blessed with twice as many grandparents to love her, and a bunch of extra aunts and uncles to dote on her as well. Of course, we will have to eventually explain to her who is who and how they all fit together, but my birth family will always be there for her, and with that knowledge, I hope she better understands that they too are a special part of her family. I don’t think she will have too tough of a time…double the birthday and Christmas presents from all the grandmas and grandpas! What kid wouldn’t love that! We blessed our baby girl in our church a few weeks ago, and both my birthmom’s and birthdad’s families attended. It was so special to see the family where I came from, the family where I grew up, and my husband’s family all united together to love and support my daughter.

I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to get to know these amazing people, and that they have chosen to build relationships with myself and the rest of my family. I love each of them so much, and can’t imagine my life being any different.

When I was little, my mom told me she thought when we were all in heaven, my birthparents, my parents, and myself were all best friends and that we chose to go through with the adoption on earth so that we could all be more closely connected when we were all here. Adoption has been such a blessing in my life, and I am grateful for it. I feel so blessed to have so many people that love me, and that I love them. I am especially grateful that I have been given the opportunity to be raised by my parents, because they are seriously wonderful people who gave me the best home I could have ever asked for. It is so gratifying for me to think of how inspired my birthparents were to choose my mother and father to raise me. Also It is such a blessing to have them back in my life and how much we have grown to love each other. To me, family is everything, and when it comes to when it comes to having wonderful parents, all I can say is, “My cup truly runneth over.”

1 comment:

Kristine said...

I love Camille! She married 2 of my friend's younger brother! I knew most of her story already but not all the details. So fun to read. Makes me excited to see how it will be for my adopted children when they are adults. They both come from great birth families and I'm sure it'll be great then.