What does it feel like to be a family through adoption?
Having a family through adoption is an incredible blessing. I am so grateful that Jack and I were blessed with our family. We feel like the luckiest people alive! Being a family through adoption comes with some issues, many of which don’t mean a thing once the kids are adults. The one thing that became clear to us over time is that genes play a bigger part in the development of each individual than we originally gave it credit for. Our journey began in 1983 when we started our family by adopting our first child.
We believed that a loving home and parents would be the key factor in forming and creating a happy and loving family.
Jack and I are so loving and have such a positive outlook that we felt that we could conquer the world. We figured that all we needed was for our kids to follow our guidance and all would be great. Well, we all know that we go into our days of parenting with great intentions and preconceived notions, whether kids are biological or not. What I didn’t expect was that the development of each child’s personality, temperament, talent, expression, and even what they like to eat, had a lot to do with genetics. It was quite amazing to learn of the similarities we saw as we got to know the birth mothers and their families.
Our oldest son is so much like his birth family.
Colin is our oldest, and we reunited with his birth mother, Betsy, when he was seven years old. Betsy and I had started our relationship before Colin was born. We became very close, writing many letters to each other while she lived with her sister near Washington D.C. I always felt that Betsy was someone I would have been friends with if we had met in school or in some other situation. We have lots in common and loved talking to each other. When she came back to the Bay Area to pursue her teaching credential, she became a wonderful part of our lives. We hadn’t planned on doing it this way when we first adopted Colin, but when Betsy moved back we reconnected and went for a hike.
That same day we decided she should come back to the house and meet all the kids. Jack was at work and got home that evening to find us all eating pizza having a great time. Over the years we got to meet many of Betsy’s siblings and got to know more about her family. Betsy’s siblings are a cardiac surgeon, an attorney, a teacher and an artist. Colin’s birth father was is an incredible athlete and an avid wind surfer. He loved the outdoors and being physical. Colin was always a good student and loved reading and gathering information, especially about tech and business. He didn’t love school when he was young, but he always loved learning. He’s now an attorney. Like his birth father, he was an early walker and talker and he is a super athlete. Colin loves sailing, parasailing and is a talented triathlete.
Molly and her birth family share a love for animals and all things creative.
Molly, our second child, was reunited with her birth mother, Diane, when Molly was ten years old. We hadn’t planned on doing that either. However, I always sent Christmas cards with pictures and stories of Molly to Diane. Out of the blue one day Diane called to chat. One thing lead to another, and Molly asked to meet Diane which we did over the annual “Christmas Walk” in our home town. Soon after, we incorporated Diane’s parents and Diane at some Christmases and Molly’s birthday dinners. Molly learned to sew at her birth grandmother’s and made Christmas gifts for all of us that year.
Diane is a talented artist and a big lover of cats. Molly too is extremely creative and artistic. Molly is my child who could build with wooden blocks to create a masterpiece mansion and other amazing creations. She painted murals on her bedroom walls, and loves to ride horses. Molly is now a teacher and a talented creative writer. Her grandmother told me that Molly’s uncle was a technical writer and editor for Microsoft, and that creative writing was always a strong suit on her side of the family. Molly loves all animals and now lives on a ranch with her husband and two children.
Brendan and his birth family are musicians and full of personality.
I don’t think Brendan has ever met a person he doesn’t like. He is very outgoing and fun and loves to laugh. We are so lucky to have Brendan reunited with Megan and her family. When Brendan gets together with Megan’s two daughters (his half-sisters who are also full of personality!) there is an instant familiarity, affection, and fun-loving time. One evening after dinner with Megan’s family at our house, the three kids put on spontaneous show with a made-up song they performed, singing and playing the ukulele.
Brendan’s musical talent is amazing. When he was four or five years old, we rented a piano. One day, Molly’s friend got on the piano and played the Pink Panther. After she left, Brendan got on the piano and played the piece by ear with full chords! Really!! I couldn’t believe it. He did this many times over the years, playing songs he had heard just once. Jack and I certainly didn’t have such musical talent in our genes.
Then one day Brendan discovered drums. Brendan loved playing on his friend’s full drum set, and then WE HAD TO buy Brendan a drum set which we set up in the master bedroom, of all places. Brendan loved playing the drums, and he was really good at it. One day we were outside with friends on the deck, and we could hear Brendan playing away on his drums. When he was done he walked out to the deck, and our friends were shocked to see that the person who produced this amazing sound was just a little guy! This happened so many times and it always cracked us up. We also later learned that Megan’s mom was a pianist who had been playing by ear, with full chords, from the time she was three years old.
Having adopted children added magic and wonder to our family life.
So as you can see, some genetic traits are unmistakably inherent to each child and his or her birth family. Our children are so different in so many ways, and it sometimes made it difficult for them to understand each other and get along. I know everyone says that in their families with bio children too. What I will say now is that my three adult kids get along really well and appreciate each other for their talents and ways of doing things
We love each other a lot and are devoted to one another. We have regular family dinners on Sunday nights and we vacation together. This Thanksgiving we have a family trip scheduled to Hawaii to celebrate birthdays and a holiday that is so special to us. We are grateful for our family and each other.
What does it feel like to be a family through adoption? I would say that I feel lucky and blessed. I am so grateful that Jack and I were given the opportunity to have a family. It truly is the most important thing in my life.