January 18, 2012
By Forest Sheehan BRONZE, Park City, Utah
Forest Sheehan BRONZE, Park City, Utah
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

All people enter the world in a very similar way. A baby opens their eyes for the first time, a few people cry, and the process of growing up begins. The process of growing up can be greatly affected by what happens before and during this special entrance, and in the atypical event of adoption, everything about how a child develops can be altered based on who their adoptive parents are.

I remember a time when I asked myself, “Who are my real parents?” to which the obvious response was my mom and dad, the people I have lived with for nearly 18 years. And they are. Always. Sometimes I wonder if a more correct answer couldn’t be my biological parents though. This insecurity can be debilitating but also squelched by just considering everything both sets of parents have done for me. My advice to someone going through a similar situation is to approach it in the same way I did, take into account everything both sides have done for you, and while recognizing that both sets of people were invaluable to you, the parents who stuck it out and are still taking care of you are one’s “real parents”.

Finding out that I was adopted a young age has always been something I liked; in my opinion it made it easier to understand and comprehend because I hadn’t been convinced of another way of thinking. It was also a testament to my parents respect, trust, and love of me. But as far as generally having adoptive parents talk to their kids about the fact that there adopted, I think that it should always be at the discretion of the parents with respect to their child’s maturity, and that there is no “correct” age to tell the adopted kids.

Living in a family of five, where all three kids are adopted, is an interesting experience. It’s fortunate that all three of us are adopted rather than one of us being biologically related to our parents; that would be a completely different scenario. Fortunately for us, we are all equal in our situations with respect to our parents. So that’s always been nice for us, but to adoptive parents, I would suggest keeping all of your kids on equal footing, so to speak.

To be assured that one is wanted is a strange phenomenon. My parents went about this by describing the struggles relating to my adoption. They had five failed adoptions before my successful one. But while it was strange to be assured that I was wanted, it was always weirder to me that my parents felt it necessary to reassure me that I was wanted. The thought that my parents thought they needed to tell me about their struggles in getting me in order to make me feel wanted was difficult to understand at first, I had never doubted that my parents wanted me. It felt more like they were professing their love than trying to make me feel wanted, but that was weird too, because I thought I already knew I was wanted.

My adoption happened a long time ago, so most of the things I know or remember about it are things my parents have told or implied to me. One vivid picture I can summon from my early days was the first time my parents brought me home, they placed me in a clothes hamper, then invited all of their friends and relatives up to see me. The people who came knew that my parents had been unsuccessful before, so this was all the more exciting.

To all the potentially adoptive parents out there, it is definitely a good idea. It can have a hugely positive impact on a life, and be the most rewarding experience of one’s life. But it is not something to be taken lightly. Adopting is the most serious commitment a person can make. And one of the most revealing too. Adoption changes everything about one’s life, in good ways, and also is one of the better teaching experiences for an adult that I have ever encountered. My parents have been put through some things by us three kids that are beyond the normal realm of parentless life. Being subjected to our whims seems a very demoralizing experience.

While my adoption was relatively simple, some adoptions can be very complicated. So to anyone looking into it, don’t be discouraged by one slipup, and never expect anything unrealistic from either an adopted child or the birthparents. So many things can go wrong throughout the never-ending process of being an adopted parent, one must also hold reasonable expectations for themselves.

I’m glad my parents adopted me; I know it has changed my life for the better. And I would like to think that I have changed my parents’ lives for the better too. To all adoptive parents, I would suggest it, and although there will be issues for you and your family associated with adoption, the overall effect will be a positive one. As long as you do your best for and with your children, everything will turn out fine.

The author's comments:
I'm adopted and this piece was an interesting way for me to examine how that fact has influenced me.

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