A little over 23 years ago, my mom made the best decision of her life: me.
If you ask her, she'll tell you adopting me was the best thing to ever happen to her, and she's not the only one. It's one of the best things to ever happen to me, too.
My adoption is one of my favorite things about myself and I've worn it proudly.
Despite the few times I've come home crying because some jerky 8-year-old told me my parents didn't love me enough to keep me, being adopted has come with some serious perks.
Here are six ultimate perks of being adopted:
1. Never Having To Claim Your Family
Uncle Tony acting up on Thanksgiving? Brother a total dork? Dad wearing socks up to his knees with flip flops?
Adopted kids have the ultimate excuse when their family is totally weird or insane: We're not related!
Maybe by law, but certainly not by blood. There's an occasional comfort of being able to say to yourself, “It's OK, I don't share any genes with these people."
This is especially comforting now when thinking of who my family voted for in this election.
2. Constantly Wondering Who Your Birth Parents Are
OK, so this wasn't always a perk.
Constantly thinking about who your birth parents are, whether or not you have siblings and what your family looks like can drive you insane and send you spiraling into an existential crisis before you're 10.
But it also makes you really creative.
Growing up, my biological parents were astronauts stuck in space unable to get back to me. They were explorers lost in a tropical rainforest looking for a new species of lemur.
Some days I had four biological siblings, other days I had 10. (I've since found out I actually have five.)
Making up stories throughout my childhood led me to be a better storyteller (a trait I cherish), and it was just plain fun.
3. Having Two Birthdays
The day I was born and the day I was adopted are three and a half weeks apart.
My mom was cool enough to make the anniversary of my adoption a special day.
She called it our “Gotcha Day," or the day she “got me" or as I like to refer to it -- a second birthday.
On July 23 I get to celebrate being born, but on August 18 I celebrate being born into my mom's heart, which is a much bigger deal in my household.
(Cue big time presents like vacations wherever I wanted.)
Having two birthdays was brag worthy on the playground, and at 23 it still hasn't lost its novelty.
4. Having Two Great Families
Sadly this is a rare case, but when I was 18 I found my biological mother and two of my biological siblings.
For Christmas that year, my adoptive mom and I flew down to Texas to meet the gang and it couldn't have gone any better.
In fact, it went so well we all got matching tattoos saying “Never Apart” a few days later.
Growing up knowing I had a mysterious second family out there was special, but finding them and sharing the love I have with them is a blessing.
Now I have double the family, double the love and double the happiness.
5. The Shock Value
Even though it's 2016 and cars are self-driving, weed is being legalized and Donald Trump is the president-elect, people are still shocked when they find out I'm adopted.
I'm sure every adopted person can relate to the look on someone's face or the sound of their voice after you tell them.
It's usually a combination of unnecessarily wide eyes and a dog-whistle-worthy high pitched “WOW! Do you know who your real family is?!”
Telling people you're adopted never gets old. At the very least, you'll always have an interesting party story.
6. Knowing You Were Wanted
Adopting a child is not easy. It's wildly expensive, takes a lot of time and a lot of paperwork.
My mom's main goal in life was to be a mom and she went through a few circles of hell to be able to do so.
In addition to the tens of thousands of dollars and years of searching, my mom had an especially difficult time being a single mom, because many places simply won't allow singular parents the opportunity to adopt.
When she finally got the phone call saying I was available, they told her there was a “catch.” I was a "crack baby" and they were unsure of how I would develop because of it. (I turned out just fine.)
Without hesitation, my mom got on the next plane to Texas and snatched me up.
Knowing I was a carefully thought out and heavily desired transaction has always made me feel special and extra appreciative of my mom.
There was never a question of whether or not she wanted me, I've always known how much being my mom meant to her and I think we have a much deeper bond because of it.