I Was Left; I Was Loved - An Adoptee Story

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 Madeleine

My birthmother left me with friends and did not return.  She handed little ‘ol baby me to a friend and turned around and walked out the door. Who knows what conversation took place before she left or if she packed anything for me in advance, lovingly touching a blanket or pajamas for the last time, or if she left quickly, on impulse.

I do not really know now, nor will I ever probably know, if she knew that she would never look into my eyes again when she left. When she walked to that car, the car she had lived with me in for a time and she pushed on the gas pedal- that was the last she would see of me.  I do not know if I cried for her when she left — but do not cry for me.

There came a point that my birthmother’s friends had to report to the government, the fact that I was there and she had not returned.  It was at that point I became a child in foster care. I lived with people I did not know, that I shared not a drop of blood with, people with seemingly no reason to love me.

I do not know the names of that family that fostered me, nor do I now speak the language that they would have spoken to me, but if I did and could, I would thank that family.  I would thank them for the memories I do not have of them.  I would hold them, knowing there were many times they must have held me.  I would thank them, because I could not have made it to my life today, were it not for the fact that they fed me, clothed me, put me to bed in the evening and woke up with me in the morning.

I do not know at what age I rolled over or what my first word was.  I do not know if I liked vegetable baby food before I hopped to fruit or who made me smile those sweet baby smiles the most.   I do not have a picture of myself prior to 14 months old — but do not be sad for me.

I do not remember leaving my foster family, getting into a car with the softspoken social worker and riding to my new home…my forever home.  I do know I had on red and white striped socks (and my mom kept them until the day she died), and I know that when I arrived to my parents’ arms, they did not care that my clothes did not match.

In an instant, I met and lived with my new family.  I did not cry.  As a matter of fact, my sweet mommy always told me that one of the first things we did was eat some homemade fudge that was lovingly made and shipped to her by a woman who was like a second mother to her. How appropriate.  And so my memories began.

I suppose at some point in my life; when I was old enough to really hear all the adult details of my story, during the inevitable years of teen angst when everyone thinks their parents don’t understand, when I was finding myself in my twenties, or even when my own children burst into the world in my thirties — I could have chosen to see what happened to me that day when my own birthmother walked away as abandonment, but I don’t.

I suppose I could have been sad that there were baby pictures of my little sister, but not of me — but I wasn’t.  I could have gone to my mother when timelines and family trees were done at school and asked her to change it — but I didn’t.  It never occurred to me to change things, to mourn things that never were or to question if I was “wanted”.

I was always “wanted”.

I will never “what if”; I will never wonder if grass would have been greener on any side, nor question my worth.  I have been celebrated.  I have been given the gift of my story in all that my parents knew it to be.  I have been accepted and cherished in every way possible. I have been loved without a need for shared blood, DNA or branches on a tree.  What greater love could I ask for?

Parents so often ask me what they can do for their child that they welcomed through adoption and my answer is: Be honest always, giving them their story from the start (in age appropriate ways). Never speak poorly about birth families; Love your children with all your heart and beyond measure; Accept them in every way and without exception and deal with things as they come. Communicate. Be available.

Listen to your child- there will be no more important voice about how they feel or what they need. Finally, be THE PARENT- not the adoptive parent– just the parent – because that is what you are and what your child needs you to be. Parents help their children through any and every thing that comes their way and that can include adoption without you requiring a pre-fix to “parent”.

Let your children be who they are and to choose what will define them.  Be constant and consistent. Be their rock. Be grace. Be the love that you waited so long to share.

{disclaimer: I am but one person with my own experience.  Adoptees are human beings, so of course our feelings and experiences vary from black to white to every shade of gray. I cannot and do not speak for everyone but will always stand up for everyone to have a chance to speak}

Madeleine is an adoptee who spent a brief time in foster care before finding her forever home as a toddler.  


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