In honor of November being National Adoption Awareness Month, Portrait of an Adoption is hosting the fourth 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 Madeleine Melcher
I always knew I would adopt. Not in an intentional “I’m going to adopt” kind of way. You see, I was adopted and as I have likened it before, knowing I was adopted was always as normal to me as having a belly button– It was just always there.
I was fourteen months old when the nice man from the agency rolled up to my parents’ apartment building in Germany. I was delivered to my parents in a yellow Mercedes that day. “I saw her and I just knew she was for you” he told them in broken English, when he called the day before, to let them know I would be theirs. “Theirs”. That word alone would set some adoptees in a tailspin, but for me it is a word of love, of belonging. You see, they were MINE, too. FAMILY. It is the strongest of connections and for me that did not require biology.
Ever since I can remember, I have loved the mother that kissed my boo-boos, helped with science projects and dealt with my “teen girl hormones”. The mother that, until the day she left this earth, thought of my sister and me first and always. Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be? Loving your children with all of your heart, with no thought to DNA?
Though my sister arrived to my parents biologically, there was never a day that I questioned the love I received. There was no imaginary scale, weighing if my sister was treated differently or given more than I was. We were both loved unconditionally. As for the two of us, we could not have been more of sisters- the bickering, the conspiring, and the friendship- all real. We ARE real sisters. I will never have a better friend; there will never be anyone who understands more of my life experiences, and it has never mattered to either one of us how we arrived to our family.
When I was in middle school, my mom shared my whole story with me. I was never angry at my birthmother. I never questioned why she left me with friends as she climbed into her car, knowing she would not return. Nor was I sad or dejected that she took her older child with her that day. I was always grateful. It seems grateful is not an okay word to use in some adoption circles these days, but I was and I am. GRATEFUL.
It did not occur to me until I was older how much she gave up for me to know this life I have known. It did not occur to me until I had children what even an inkling of that must have felt like. Holding your child. Feeding her. Even living in a car to keep your children with you, and then one day handing your baby to a friend and turning around, knowing you would not be back later that day or week or month or ever to hold your child again.
There were birthdays when I wondered if someone out there was thinking of me, and adoption days when we celebrated the anniversary of becoming a family for always.
And then there was every day in between. It is in those days — the many days in between — where a life is made, where memories are grown, where family is important. I was never bothered by questions about my adoption. It did not seem odd or rude for someone to ask me something. It was just my story. A story I don’t ever remember not knowing. Maybe yours was being born on the way to the hospital or keeping your mom in labor for twenty-three hours; mine seemed just as normal to me. Like fingerprints — like delicate snowflakes — we are all different. We all have our own stories, and in our differences, we find commonality.
And so it was. When I met my handsome husband and we started getting serious, I told him my plan of adopting, as well as having biological children. He never questioned it. Heart wide open, he hopped on the emotional rollercoaster that is family building, right alongside me. It was not until later that we discovered adoption would be the only way we were to build our family, but he had long since embraced adoption in every way.
It was a path I always knew I would take. Not because I needed to save the world. Not because I thought I would be infertile or because I needed to share a history of having been adopted with someone, but because for me, my adoption meant a lifetime of love. Who would not want to share that?
Our lives were forever changed as we were entrusted with each of our precious children by their birth parents. I love being a mommy, and my husband has actually turned out to be the only one of the five of us in our house that was not adopted. We have always shared with our children, as my mom did with me, their adoption stories — from the start.
It is best there is never a time they remember not knowing. These are their stories. We as their parents are entrusted with their stories, until they are old enough to decide with whom they wish to share them. That is important. Just as you cannot put toothpaste back in the tube, you cannot take back things you have said. When you have adopted, at its core, adoption is your child’s story.
And so I live each day as any parent does, doing laundry, helping with homework, fighting bedtime battles, and, when they have them, answering the questions my children have about adoption. I will always answer honestly and age appropriately. I do not worry and wonder about the latest theory about children who were adopted.
Even though I was adopted, I do not have all the answers, because every child and every adoptee is different. What I do know is that whatever my children need in life, whether it is adoption related or not, I am here for them, just as my mom was for me.
Is adoption all black and white? No. There is so much gray. But am I Happy? Grateful? Thankful? Yes, I am. Because, though many parts of adoption can be bittersweet what I have known in my life is LOVE.
Love that started with a woman who did the best she knew how to do for me and for her other child. I hope she has found the same peace and love in her life that she gave me. Growing up, I knew a mommy who loved me beyond measure, even when I was at my worst, who was a rock on the stormiest of days, and I hope my children can say the same.
There is a weight of gratitude that I can never rightly express for the honor and privilege of these three amazing people calling me, “Mommy” and like my mommy before me- biology could not make me love my children more. In my life, for all my life, adoption has meant love.
In addition to being an adoptee, wife and mommy, Madeleine E. Melcher is the owner or Our Journey To You, Adoption Profile/Portfolio Design www.ourjourneytoyou.com . Madeleine’s writing can also be found at www.adoption.net and other sites like; Scary Mommy, Adoptimist, America Adopts and others, in addition to her book, How To Create a Successful Adoption Portfolio.
This year’s Adoption Portraits series is filled. You may send a submission for next year’s series to Carrie Goldman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Portrait of an Adoption on Twitter and Facebook
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Check out Carrie Goldman’s award-winning book Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear.