Family Ties This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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      When I introduce acquaintances to my family, I often hear, “You look just like your mom!” or, “Of course she’s your sister, you two look exactly alike!” Although this is innocent banter, if I look anything like my parents or sister, it is entirely a coincidence because my sister and I are adopted.

There’s no dramatic story. Neither of us lived in orphanages where evil old ladies forced us to scrub the floors. We weren’t abandoned. We were simply born into families without the resources to raise us properly. We were born to parents who loved us enough to let us go.

Studies show that adopted children often feel incomplete or distant from their adoptive families and their peers. Many feel unloved by their birth parents, who must have found some defect in their child to give her away. This was never an issue for me. I was different from my classmates in lots of ways, but I didn’t consider my parentage to be one of them.

Regardless, if there is one lesson to be gained from my circumstances, it is that love, not blood, ties a family together. I’ve been loved and raised by the same two people my whole life, and they will always and forever be my mom and dad.

These parents taught me how to live, how to treat others, how to be myself, and how to love God. I’m not so sure I could have understood the way God loves us and takes us in as His children if my life didn’t parallel that example. And so, even without DNA, I have the most indestructible of bonds with these people. They loved me enough to adopt me, and every day, they love me enough to continue raising, teaching, and supporting me. I am forever in their debt.

And some credit is due to my birthparents. Releasing their first child to be adopted must have been the hardest decision they ever made, and I am forever in their debt for their sacrifice. They put me first, and this is a model I strive to emulate.

I keep in touch with my birthmother, who shares my love for animals and art. Someday I hope to meet her and catch up on all the years we haven’t spent together, but those years have not been wasted. Adopted children supposedly fixate on the life they might have had with their “real” parents, but beyond a mild curiosity at how events may have unfolded differently, I have no desire to go back in time and alter the circumstances of my birth. I would not trade these 17 years for the world.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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