What It Means to be Adopted

Contrary to what the website says, this post was written by my wife, Trudy, in honor of her 30th birthday. Enjoy!


Fact: I am a woman. Fact: I am a wife, mother and daughter. Fact: I am a friend. Fact: Today is my 30th birthday.

Fact: I am adopted.

No, I am not playing a joke on you. I am, in fact, adopted.

I’m not quite sure why the first reaction people have when they hear I am adopted is that they think I’m lying or just messing around. For some reason, people find adoption to be one thing in life that people speak about but that you can never really be sure if the person is telling the truth. Thirty years after being adopted, I still get these reactions. They differed when I was younger; most questions people had for me were related to who my “real” parents were or if I could go back to them whenever I wanted. They wanted to know if it was strange living with people who aren’t my parents and what I call “them.”

My favorite was always, “Why were you given up?”

The other comment that always annoyed me – and my parents – was when people would compare adoption to grocery shopping, as though my parents went to the store, picked me out and brought me home. Oh, and if they were not satisfied, I could be returned for a full refund.

For me, being adopted has been the most positive thing in my life. It has truly shaped the person I am today. It has been the topic of all of my college and graduate school essays. It comes up at doctors visits. It’s why my mom and I chuckle when a stranger says we look alike and it’s the issue that always arises around my birthday. For as long as I can remember, I was read books about adoption (there was even a Sesame Street one!). We talked about adoption and we embraced adoption. Sure, I wonder from time to time who my biological family is, and what my life would have been like if I had not been given up for adoption. But then I look around and see the wonderful life I have and I forget about my questions.

Today is my 30th birthday but so is August 21st. My parents always made a big deal about both days. I always loved being celebrated on both days, but I didn’t fully understand why until I reached my teen years. The awesome thing about being adopted is that I get to celebrate two birthdays: the day I was actually born and the day my parents brought me home.

My parents and I speak often about my adoption. My mom tells me stories about how she never cleaned the house as much as the night before the social worker was scheduled to come for her home visit. She tells stories about how she and my father had twenty-four hours notice that they were going to be parents. How my grandma and grandpa (Papa Dave and Agee Lil) bought out the baby super store Coronet and were caught pushing strollers and prams (at full speed) up and down the aisles to determine which one was the strongest and sturdiest.

I love hearing these stories.

The photograph from the courthouse steps has been etched in my memory forever, as that was the day we officially became a family (even though we all know we actually became one when I first arrived home, many months earlier). We waste countless hours worrying about doctors visits, since medical issues arise and the extra poking and prodding ensures doctors are not missing anything important.

I don’t think I have ever been more proud of anything in my life, except for my son, Eitan. Adoption is not a topic that should be “brushed under the rug.” I have never understood families who hushed when the topic of their children’s adoption came up or when I found out that people who were adopted did not know growing up. Adoption should be embraced. Families are all different. Biological or not, it should not matter how a family is formed, but, rather, that everyone loves and supports one another unconditionally.

Yes, I do wonder where I came from. But my life is amazing. I am truly blessed. There’s this argument between adoptees and adoptive parents about who is more blessed. Is it the parents who receive a beautiful bundle of joy, the perfect child to love and to raise? Or is it the child, the one who is loved and loves the parents back?

Today, I see that I am more blessed. When people ask me who my “real” family is, I tell them this: I have had a wonderful life filled with love, support and compassion. My mother is my best friend and my father is my biggest fan. My grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins never once made me feel like an outsider and have always accepted me for who I am. Without my family, I would not have met the love of my life and given birth to the perfect son. They are all my real family.

My parents always had the following poem hanging in our house. I always felt like it was the perfect description of my relationship with my parents and I think it is the perfect way to end this post:

“Neither flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone,
But miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute,
You didn’t grow under my heart, but in it.”
(Fleur Conkling Heyliger)

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