Meet my family: These people have shaped and defined the woman that I am today and have always surrounded me with love, support, and opportunities.
They have been the biggest blessing I could ever ask for. My mom, Diane, has always told me to “defy gravity” and has empowered me to believe that I can do anything. My dad, Jim, has instilled in me the belief that I am loved and awesome despite any failure or setback. I now know that my failures do not define me. My older brother, Sam, is the strongest person that I know. He has taught me to persist and never give up.
However, I would have never had this family if it were not for one very special person.
Alison, who was only sixteen at the time, made the brave decision to place me for adoption. It was a hard choice she made knowing that the lovely couple Jim and Diane, with a son Sam, could give me a life that she knew she never could. She wanted to give me a life even better than the one she had and she knew that she could not do it alone. She chose bravery, selflessness, and true love.
I always knew that I was adopted. It was something that I grew up knowing. Never once did I feel any less part of my family or different in any way. I knew that I was with the best parents in the entire world.
My family chose an open adoption with Alison. With my case in particular, this meant a few things. My parents always told me that it was my decision if I ever wanted to meet Alison. I knew that if I wanted to, I could not meet her until I was 18. It also meant that a few pictures of me would be sent every year along with a little update. Often, my mom would show me the pictures that she would send Alison and sometimes even let me choose what pictures were sent. I would even get to see the pictures that Alison would send as well. When Alison got older, my mom showed me pictures from her wedding album. Soon, when she had a family of her own, my mom would show me the Christmas cards Alison would send.
It was never a doubt in my mind that I wanted to meet this woman. Although, I was so unsure of the relationship that I would have with her. As time got closer to my eighteenth birthday, it became surreal. I remember bringing it up to my parents and really saying that I wanted to go through with arranging to meet with her. I will never be able to thank the both of my parents enough for the love, bravery, and courage they had to let me meet Alison. They were so loving and supportive throughout the entire process.
My mom gave me a very special birthday present that year. I remember sitting on my mom’s couch when she brought out a DVD case and a bundle of cards. Those cards contained birthday letters, sent every single year, from Alison. I had no idea they were sent and it was a very special gift to be able to read these so many years later. The DVD, made in her early twenties, was of her sitting on her couch. She told me why she placed me for adoption, why she chose my specific parents, how much she loved me, and she gave me a glimpse of who she was and what her dreams of her life were. She assured me that she was never ashamed of her pregnancy and placing me for adoption. She made sure that I knew that I was not a regret. Instead, she told me how great she thought my mom and dad were and how she and her friends would celebrate my birthdays every year during college.
These letters and DVD assured me that she had wanted to meet me just as much as I wanted to meet her. After my dad had called her to tell her that I really did want to meet her, I decided to send Alison a letter to introduce myself and let her hear from me how excited I was to meet her and truly how thankful I was for her. After writing back and forth, we finally called each other for the first time!
Something I would always tell people is: “It is so cool that you guys get to know why you sound the way that you do, why you do the little quirks that you do!” It always excited me to find out what roles nature and nurture had played in my life! I had always seen the ways I was similar to my parents and, as weird as it may sound, I was so curious to see if any part of who I am was by nature.
The day finally came when I would meet Alison, her husband Alex, and her four children! Gavin, my oldest half sibling, was only five at the time and Finley was three. The two twins, Ellie and Emmitt, were just one!
At the time, my parents were going through a divorce. Because of this, I had decided that I wanted my older cousin to travel with me to meet Alison. It was not that I wanted my parents to be excluded from this very special experience. I know that my parents would have been supportive and loving the entire time. However, I wanted to do whatever I could to allow me to have the time to meet Alison without any other tension. My relationship with Alison, both now and at the time I turned 18, is a relationship that I want to share with the people that I love.
So, I traveled to their home in Greensboro, North Carolina and knocked on the door with my cousin by my side. I was so nervous and had no idea what to expect! Alison opened the door with the biggest smile and gave me the biggest hug. I will never forget this moment and the way that it felt to hug her. I could not believe that I was actually meeting her and her family after all of these years.
We walked inside their beautiful home and they had ordered BBQ! We had such a casual lunch and were just laughing and “catching up” over the last 18 years. I had made a special video for her and I showed it to her that day. I wanted to somehow “fill her in” on my life. There were pictures and videos of some moments of my life and finally, videos of all of my family and friends giving her the biggest thank you that she deserved. They thanked her for her decision of life.
If it were not for her, I would not have the most amazing and loving parents that I do.
I would not have the strongest and protective brother.
I would not have attended the schools that I did and received the education that I am so blessed to have had.
I would not have met the best friends that I have who have been there for me through everything.
She changed the course of my life and gave me a family, friends, and community of love.
Three years have passed since the first day I met Alison and her family. Like I had mentioned earlier, I had no idea what our relationship would hold. But then again, I guess there was really no way to predict it. But I am confident in saying that I have found one of my very best friends.
I think there are a few reasons why I want to share my story... Often, I receive questions such as: “Wait your mom or your real mom?” or “How does your mom feel knowing that you have a relationship with Alison?” or “Do you want to find your birth dad?” I also receive comments like “Wow usually I feel like adoption stories do not work out that way.” I have also noticed that people are often surprised by the fact that I am adopted because some think that most adopted children are from a different country.
I want to share my story with the world to bring awareness and shine a light on the gift of adoption.
All of these questions and comments that I hear are so understandable to ask and to be curious about! In fact, I love when people ask me these sorts of questions. I love to share my perspective and to hopefully enhance people's understanding of adoption and create conversation about it as it is something that is not discussed often.
I understand that every individual, child of adoption, and parent who has adopted a child holds a different perspective and has a different story. I believe that all of our stories should be heard! Each person is wildly unique and adoption is such a gift.
As a child of adoption, I never use the term “real mom”. My mom is Diane. My mom is the one who took me home from the hospital. The one who I woke up in the middle of the night and who rocked me throughout the entire night. The one who cared for me when I was sick and picked me up from school, gave me medicine and my favorite flavor of Gatorade. My mom is the one who listened to me when I came home from school and asked about my day. My mom is the one who would buy me ice cream after I was scared to get a shot at the doctor’s office. My mom is the one who was there for me during my first break up and reminded me that I was loved. My mom is the one who told me to “defy gravity” and that I can do anything.
Alison, although she is not my mom, is an amazing woman. Before meeting Alison for the first time, I remember going to visit my counselor at the time and I will never forget how she explained the greatness of me meeting Alison and the potential of a relationship:
“You are expanding the circle of people who love you.”
I have a mother. Alison has a loving husband, Alex, and four wonderful children: Gavin, Finley, Ellie, and Emmitt. We both mutually understand that I am not searching for a mother, nor is she searching for a daughter. We were both blessed with amazing families.
My relationship with Alison is certainly a relationship that I treasure. I have the utmost admiration of her. She is a talented and excellent physical therapist, a true friend to others, and a loving mother and wife to her family. She is one of the funniest people I know and is so genuine and accepting. She is constantly placing others before herself and has proved to be one of my best friends.
I think that my mom was hesitant at first to the idea of me meeting Alison or forming a relationship with her. Although I will never be able to truly understand the depth of how that feels, I can empathize with how that may feel. Mom, you will never be replaced. You are my mom and I love you, and no one can take your place. It does not matter how you came to be my mother or if you are my “adoptive mother” or “biological mother.” You are my mom and I will always love you. I know that Alison knows this and loves her own children with the same love that my mother loves me.
When Alison found out she was pregnant at 15 with her boyfriend at the time, he ceased communication with her. To this day, he has never answered a phone call or reached out to Alison to find out that I am a boy or a girl. He has no idea who I am. Although I have seen pictures of him from when he was fifteen and a picture of him now, I do not feel a desire to meet him. I have never felt a hole in my heart or a missing piece because of my lack of relationship with him. I have the most spectacular dad in the entire world. My dad is my best friend.
My dad is the most wonderful human and greatest man that I know. Him and I have made memories that I will always cherish. He is the most hard working, intelligent, funny, and caring person. His goofiness and love for his friends and family makes him one incredible dad. I will always be thankful for him and the person he is and will never feel a missing piece. My dad and my mom have filled every space in my heart.
I know that my story is different from another individual’s story of their adoption. I think that every story is so unique and can offer such a greater understanding of adoption.
Alison, thank you for choosing life and true love. Thank you for being so open in welcoming a relationship with me. Thank you for turning into one of my best friends because I value our relationship more than you know. But most of all, thank you for choosing my family.
"For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11