When I was younger, my friends would always respond the same way after they learned I was adopted: “Oh, I’m sorry.”
At that age, I never understood their response.
Why were they sorry? Did they know I was adopted into a great family? Did they know I was happy?
Now that I'm older, it makes a little more sense.
Sometimes, the phrase “adoption” has a negative connotation, as if the only way someone could be adopted was because he or she endured some sort of terrible scenario and there was no way out.
While that is most definitely the case for some, it was not the situation I experienced. So when friends would immediately apologize, I’d laugh and ask them, “Why?”
In all honesty, aside from being an African-American adopted into a Caucasian family, I’ve never really felt different.
I fit in so well with my family, it’s like I was never really adopted at all.
I think part of the reason I’m so comfortable is because I was adopted when I was 6 weeks old, so this family is the only one I remember.
However, I think a larger part of the reason is because quite frankly, we were meant to be together.
In some mysterious way, I honestly think the universe knew we needed each other and paired us together.
I don’t even use the phrase “adoptive family” because it sounds so foreign to me.
My family is my family, adoptive or not.
Now that I’m older, I’ve begun to search for my birth mother, but I haven't had any contact with her.
The search is out of sheer curiosity, not because I feel I’m missing anything or yearning for closure.
My only hope in this search is to gain knowledge of my family history and to make a friend who shares my genes.
As I reflect back on the 28 years of my life as an adopted child, I can’t help but hope my parents realize the sheer magnitude of my love for them.
I’m terrible at verbalizing mushy emotions. Maybe I don’t express them enough, but I’m hopeful my parents will never forget how I feel:
1. I’m thankful.
In 28 years, I’ve done and experienced more than I could have ever imagined, and most of that is due to you.
I appreciate the opportunities that have been provided for me, and I will never take them for granted.
When you were deciding to adopt, you said your only request was you wanted a girl, and the rest didn’t matter.
You saw my picture, and said yes. I’m thankful it was me who was lucky enough to get you as parents.
2. I’ve never felt different.
Any difference I feel due to my race has to do mainly with outsiders (i.e., strangers mistaking me for my niece and nephew's nanny, rather than their aunt).
When it comes to our family, I know I’m loved equally.
With three other children in the mix, I can only imagine how difficult it may have been to make sure everyone felt included, but I hope you know I always felt like I had my time to shine.
3. I really like spending time with you.
Whether it’s browsing the madness of IKEA or acting silly during family dinner night, it only took me 28 years to realize you guys are actually pretty cool.
Whether we’re having in-depth conversations or laughing until our sides hurt, I’m happiest when we’re all together as a family.
4. I look up to you.
You both are my role models, and you always will be.
You work very hard, and I enjoy hearing stories of your past and seeing how all your experiences together at such a young age have helped build the foundation that is now our family.
The fact you chose to adopt makes me feel special, and despite any hardships we face, I will always be grateful of the life you provided for me.
5. You’ll always be my parents.
No matter what happens in the future, whether I find my birth family or not, you will always have the number one spot in my life.
The names “Mom” and “Dad” are reserved for you two only, and I don’t plan on extending that courtesy to anyone else.
Your opinions and feelings will always matter to me, and regardless of my future, I will always have you to thank for my past.
National Adoption Month gives me the time to reflect on how different my life could be if I was adopted into another family or not adopted at all.
I feel honored this is the life I was given, and I will remain hopeful adopted children around the world will be blessed with the same positive feelings, inclusion and opportunities with their new families.
I guess to put it simply, I'd just like to extend a thank you to my mom and dad for bringing me into their family.
I'll never be able to repay you, but I hope I can continue to make you proud.