Adopted Child, Adoptive Parent

In honor of November being National Adoption Awareness Month, Portrait of an Adoption is hosting the fifth annual acclaimed series, 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days.  Designed to give a voice to the many different perspectives of adoption, this series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying experiences.

By Sarah Larsen
Adopted Child and Adoptive Parent

I have always known that I was adopted and am very grateful for that knowledge.  No “Oh, my gosh I’m adopted!” moment for me.  My husband and I are doing the same thing for our son.

My adoption was closed, as they all were then.  Growing up was great.  Everyone knew that I was adopted and I didn’t feel any different.  That was, until the wonderful teenage years.  Those years are hard on everyone.  For me, it was the constant feeling of not belonging anywhere, and in a sense, I didn’t.  I have a fear of being forgotten and know that it stems from being adopted and the feeling of abandonment that adoption can bring.  I have a loving family and great friends, but I will still have that feeling of being on the outside looking in.

One thing that made growing up hard was not having someone that looked like me.  I was always looking in the crowd for someone who might look familiar in some way, someone who had dimples like me with brown hair and eyes.  I thought I’d know them just by looking and feel an instant connection.

Seventeen years ago, I was blessed with a letter stating that someone was looking for me.  It was an odd experience. I felt humbled that someone wanted to know me and guilty that my brother, also adopted, didn’t get a letter like that too.

That letter led to a sister and brother.  I was completely blown away when I saw a picture of my brother.  I finally have someone that looks like me!  We have the same dark hair and he has my dimples, all three of them!  I was able to meet them and their families, and it was a wonderful reunion.  We didn’t have an instant connection; it had more of that summer camp feeling of hurry up and learn as much as possible.

My sister and her family attended our wedding four months later, and I love that they cared enough to come.  It meant the world that my own sisters, who stood up with me, toasted my newfound sister at our wedding.

I have shared some letters with my birth mother, which gave a little history, but ultimately helped me realize that the grass on my side of the fence was pretty green.  We have never met, and that is okay.  One of the things that I learned is that my birth mother was adopted as well.

My husband and I wanted to have kids right away, and after a year of not conceiving, we consulted a doctor.  After many tears and a failed artificial insemination, we decided to adopt.  We started the process, and it IS a process.  All the crazy questions we had to answer were so aggravating.  “What would you do with a teenager that doesn’t want to have anything to do with you?”  Well, give me a child that I will raise and when said child is a teenager, I’ll let you know.  Then you have to put together an essay that “sells” you to a birth mother.  I felt like a used car salesman!

We waited for what seemed like forever and then finally got the call that every couple that is adopting craves.  We had been chosen!  That might seem like a strange word to use, but it’s the only one that fits.  We met Momma K the very next day, and it was amazing.  I can never say enough good things about Momma K.  She has more strength that she realizes.

We have an open adoption and that was very important, especially to me, because of my own adoption experiences.  If our son has a question about his birth mom or wonders why he does certain things, I want us to be able to go right to the source, and we have done just that.  A few years ago, John and I realized that Benny eats one thing at a time; he has his fill of that item and then moves on to the next food on his plate.  I asked Momma K about it, and she said that her mom does the same thing.

We recently spent the weekend with Momma K, Benny’s older brother Noah and Momma K’s mom and grandma.  Benny is always trying to figure out where everyone belongs in the scope of our family.  Are my cousins brother Noah’s cousins?  Mom, are you brother Noah’s aunt?  It is a true blessing to know about our entire family.

We were fortunate enough to be in the room when our Benny was born.  The greatest gift I have ever received was when Momma K said, “Go meet your son.”  He was given to us by Momma K through the grace of God.

It is a wonderful thing to share with my son the unique fact that he and I both have two moms, through the gift of adoption.

Sarah Larsen is a contented wife and mother living in a small Midwestern town.  She and her husband John are raising their active, now 5-year-old son Ben, to appreciate diverse family situations.  Sarah is a Deputy Clerk in Vital Statistics and frequently uses her own adoption experiences in her job.  Sarah enjoys reading, watching musicals and laughing at her husband's great sense of humor.

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