Being adopted comes with an unfortunate stigma you were not wanted from your birth parents.
My adoptive parents, however, have disproved that notion from the beginning.
More than anything, being adopted has made me understand unconditional love.
Instead of growing up and hearing stories about how long the labor was or when my mom’s water broke, I heard my adoption story.
My parents were having issues with having a second child, and they always wanted to give someone a chance at a life he or she otherwise wouldn't have.
My mom got a call I was ready and flew to Romania, a country she had never been to, all alone.
My dad had to stay and take care of my soon-to-be big sister.
My mom ventured off into a country where she didn’t speak the language, and she had to travel back with an infant.
Once she got me, getting home was no walk in the park.
There were no direct flights to the US, and again, she was traveling alone with an infant who constantly wanted to be held.
Every year on my birthday, when my mom tells me this story, I can’t think of anything except how much love it took for her to go all alone to another country to get her baby.
My mom is an amazing woman, and she has such a big heart.
When my mom finally arrived home, all of my extended family and some family friends were there to greet me.
I have so many pictures of this day.
My dad was wearing a pink polo with a giant smile across his face, and my sister was wearing her “Big Sister” shirt, looking very happy and proud with her new role.
Everyone else in the picture also looked happy to finally see me.
It wasn’t your typical hospital birth, but I had my entire family there, supporting my parents and I, sharing so much love.
My sister is your typical older sister, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Growing up, she bossed me around and wouldn't let me hang out with her and her friends, but she always stood by me no matter what.
We look completely different, though.
She has blonde hair and blue eyes, and I have olive skin and dark hair.
We honestly look more like friends than sisters, but that never once stopped her from treating me like anything other than her little sister.
Like all sisters, we would fight and make up. But if I ever needed her help, she was there in a heartbeat.
We talk all the time, and we share secrets just like other siblings do.
There’s never been a day when I didn't feel like her little sister.
My parents gave me the best childhood I ever could have asked for.
It was absolutely perfect, and I mean that in every way possible.
We had an amazing house in an amazing location.
I was given the best education available.
I also struggled with depression, but every single step of the way, they were there no matter what.
They have been there for my worst days, and they have been there for my best.
My dad is my best friend.
Although I now live out of the house, whenever one of our favorite shows is on, I go over to my parents' house and watch it with him.
My mom is also my best friend, and she's been there for me through hardships with friends in school, boy problems, school issues and my depression experiences.
Along with my sister, they showed me unconditional love is real.
People say, “Blood is thicker than water," but my adoptive family has taught me blood doesn’t mean anything.
Unconditional love can come from a family that has no blood connection.
The bond my family and I have is stronger than most of the families of friends I grew up with.
We have always believed family comes before anything else, and if I ever need anything, they will all be there in a heartbeat.
Now that is unconditional love.