From adoption, to adoption reunion to adopting—this is my story.
I was born October 15th, 1979 to a young mother of 20 years old. She was living a life she wanted me to be raised in. With only three options (abortion, adoption, or parenting), she chose adoption. Both our lives would be forever changed with that decision. She held me for a couple hours. She looked over, inspected, and memorized every little part of wrinkled skin on my new little body. She took in all of my sights and sounds, placing them in their heart and putting a lock on it. No one had the key except me! On December 13th, 1979, I went to my forever home and graced my adoptive parents with the second adoptive child they never thought they would get.
I grew up in a nice neighborhood. I didn’t know want or need. I had more than I ever needed and even more than I wanted. I was raised a typical child of the 80’s and a regular teenager of the 90’s. Although my wants and needs were minimal, my biological ties had a profound place in my heart and mind. So many questions and so little answers. The questions always started with who? or why? God bless my adoptive parents, they answered as much as they could with the little information they were given. My adoption was a closed adoption—very little information was relayed to my adoptive parents.
As an adoptee, birthdays stirred up so many unanswered questions.
With every birthday that passed, I always thought of my biological mother. Was she thinking of me? Did she remember my birthday? My family celebrated each birthday in typical fashion, with cake, ice cream, and presents I had asked for. For months leading up to my birthday thoughts of my biological family was the only thing I really had on my mind those days. I learned to eventually not look forward to my birthday. It always raised so many unanswered questions for me that couldn’t be answered.
“I think your birth mother is looking for you.”
Two months after my 18th birthday, I received a letter in the mail. The return address said “Judicial Court” on it. As I tossed it on the table, I huffed as images of jury duty filled my head. The fact that they nailed me two months after turning 18 was a disturbing thought to me. My adoptive mother picked up the envelope and said she didn’t think it was for jury duty. She said, “Sarah, I think your biological mother is looking for you.” All the 18 years of burning questions in my mind came rushing to reality as I opened that letter. I thought to myself, “it’s not supposed to happen this way, I was supposed to look for her when I was ready. Am I ready?” Well, ready or not, here she was!
As supportive as my adoptive parents said they would be, I never expected them to be so emotional. Could I blame them? Absolutely not! But no matter how much I reassured them, it seemed my words meant nothing. I thought long and hard about everything. I tried to weigh what mattered most—questions that would finally be answered or my adoptive parents current emotional state. After weighing the options for some time, I decided that at just 18 years of age, I was emotionally and mentally responsible enough to take this on. I was finally going to meet my biological mother and be able to ask the questions that burned a hole in my heart and mind for 18 years.
I found answers to most of my questions.
After talking a few times over the phone, we made arrangements to meet at a local Italian restaurant. As I pulled into the parking lot, I knew she was driving behind me. My heart pounded out of my chest. I couldn’t park fast enough. When I got out and took one look at her, only one thing came to mind—the thought of finally being home. A familiarity came over me that I don’t think I could ever put into words, and I found a comfort in her arms that I have never felt before. The second we embraced, my heart handed her heart the key to the lock, and it has been unlocked for 16 years now. I also found answers to most of my questions. I learned that I had two siblings anxious to meet me, and I them.
As the years went by, I started a family of my own. When my first child was born, I felt a surge of anger towards my biological mom. Time eventually healed my anger, although having a family raised more questions. I learned to answer them within myself. You see, being an adoptee, there are always little questions that still linger. Even though all the major questions are answered, there are always some little ones that never quite get answered. I had to learn that it was ok.
From adopted to adopting from foster care.
I went on to give birth to four children, two boys and two girls. My husband and I live in a small 3 bedroom house that maxes out just over 1,100 square feet. After our 4th child we decided it would be best if I had my tubes tied. Two years after that, we found out that our great nephew had entered foster care just 2 1/2 hours away from us. At 18 months old, he fell victim to a life of crime with his parents. Selling drugs was more than a lifestyle for them, it was a way of life past down through generations. Crime was nothing new for that side of the family. Our great nephew’s grandfather is sitting in prison at 38 years old with a life sentence, and the baby’s father was just sentenced to 32 years at only 19 years old. What that precious little boy experienced in the first 18 months of life, most adults would be afraid of. The violent gang task force and FBI were involved in the case. At 17 months old, he was in the vehicle while his father, in a fit of rage, committed a drive by shooting. The police were involved and he fled. He was finally arrested and the baby taken into foster care. During the investigation, they even found photos of our great nephew laying down with loaded handguns in his diaper.
After entering foster care, his biological mother was ordered to abide by the court’s rules. When followed, she would get her son back. She was just 18 years old and put minimal effort into it. She sought comfort in drugs, and also in the biological father. Termination of parental rights followed 6 months after he entered foster care. After that, there were five competing parties that wanted this beautiful little boy. One party was the foster family, the other four families were all relatives. We were an appropriate fit as my husband had separated from that side of the family at a young age and had changed his last name, and we lived quite a distance away. The remaining relatives still had contact with his biological mother or father and could potentially put him right back in the same situation—a life of gangs, drugs, and poor education.
We inquired about our great nephew in May of 2012. Parental rights were terminated and we had our home study. I called every week from May until we started our visits in December to see how he was doing and how the process was coming along. The thoughts of having a nephew so far away in foster care weighed heavily on our minds. We wanted to make sure he was being taken care of and if he needed anything as we would provide it even if we weren’t chosen. Finally in January, we got the recommendation from the agency. They were recommending us for his adoption. We were ecstatic!! But we still had a long road and a bit of a fight ahead of us.
He is ours forever.
In March of 2013, we received the recommendation from the Michigan Children’s Institute who joined forces with the agency to have him placed in our home. On April 10th, 2013, our little boy came home. He arrived scared and confused, carried to our front door by the adoption worker. But finally, he was home! We no longer needed to call weekly to check on him, or drive 5 hours for a 2 hour visit every two weeks.
Then, the biological grandmother filed a section 45 appeal and the evidentiary hearing was set. The best interest of our little boy was in the mind of the judge that day and the appeal was denied. Our adoption was finalized November 2013. He is ours forever. He is happy, healthy, thriving, and getting a second chance.
Adoption is such a huge part of my life. From being adopted, to adoption reunion with my birth mother and then to adopt our nephew from foster care—I’ve come full circle. God is good.
Author: Sarah Laroe