“You’re adopted. Your parents don’t even love you.” This line, from the movie Dodgeball, is callously delivered by Vince Vaughn but, to be honest, when I heard it I laughed. I’m very open-minded when it comes to comedy so to me the joke worked in context. But on a serious note, that statement doesn’t make any sense. I’ve never understood how “you’re adopted” could ever be used as an insult. What could be more loving than parents who go out of their way to bring a child into their family?
Yet sometimes a negative connotation still exists. Having a first-person experience with being an adopted child, I feel that more light should be shed upon the true essence of adoption.
One of the first questions people ask me is, “When did you find out that you were adopted?” It’s a difficult one to answer since my adoption was never something I had to “find out” about– it was never hidden in the first place. As far back as I can remember, my mom told me that she had a boo-boo in her belly and couldn’t have babies. So she and my dad prayed and prayed and prayed and waited and waited and waited and finally I was born just to be their daughter. My parents’ open and loving attitude kept any negative stigma from affecting me. That story always made me feel like the most loved kid ever, and it still does!
So even though I have always known that I was adopted, not everyone else knows that about me. Why? Because my adoption is not what defines me. I’m not ashamed of it by any means, but there aren’t many times that I find the need to bring it up. Just like everyone else, the woman who raised me is my mother. Period. No other label is needed.
My birthmother will always have a special place in my heart, of course. Loving and carrying a child for nine months and then giving the baby up cannot be an easy choice, but I believe she made that sacrifice for altruistic reasons. She already had four children and knew she couldn’t afford to care for a fifth. Many mothers might have ended the pregnancy at this point, and others would have tried to make it work with what little money they had. But this article isn’t about pro-life or pro-choice; it’s about an option that is so often overlooked.
I’m forever grateful for my birthmother’s decision back then. It was truly a selfless act of love and strength, putting the needs of her baby ahead of her own heart. She was alone in a country where she didn’t understand the language, yet managed to work with an adoption agency to give me a better life than she could provide. She didn’t receive any money or praise for what she did, and from what I’ve heard, pregnancy and childbirth aren’t exactly a walk in the park. While I hope to never be in the same situation she was in, I do hope I will have her courage and wisdom to deal with whatever obstacles I encounter in my life.
When asked if I ever want to find my “real” parents, I quickly remind people that my “real” parents raised me, and it doesn’t feel that important for me to meet my birthparents. Sure, I get curious about some things, like whether or not I look or act like them, but I believe everything happened the way it was supposed to, and I respect that.
There’s a good chance that my birthparents think of me everyday, maybe they even gave me a name. But even if they completely forgot that I ever existed, I don’t care. When I was in their lives, they loved me exactly how I needed to be loved, which determined the course of my life. And when my parents’ entered my life, they picked up right where my birthparents’ left off, so the flow of love never stopped. I was brought into a home that revolved around finding me and as soon as I got there, our family was complete. I have been raised with so much unconditional love that I couldn’t possibly associate my adoption with anything negative.
I understand that not every story is as simple or happy as mine. Some kids were abandoned or rejected. Some bounce between group homes and foster parents and have endless struggles along the way. My heart goes out to them. I hope that each of them find a home filled with the love they deserve. But in the end, whether there are unfortunate circumstances that lead up to it or not, adoption itself is a beautiful thing and should always be acknowledged as such.
When the time comes for me to start a family, I would be happy to welcome a child brought to me through adoption, because as I have learned through my own life, family is defined by love, not by DNA.
By Nicole Farina, who wants her mom, Staten Island Parent’s owner, Roselle Farina Hecht, to know how much her love and support is appreciated.