It is my pleasure to introduce you to my dear friend Tabitha. Tabitha was in the room of new mothers the day I first (in a very messy and emotional manner) publicly faced the fact that I would never bare another child, and confessed my anxiety about our planned course of adoption. I didn't know Tabitha then, but I believe that angles arranged for the two of us to be there that day. She approached me after the new moms' group and offered her support, as a nurse who understood the medical trauma I had been through, as a friend, and as a woman who had been adopted as an infant.
Tabitha has been a source of constant support and encouragement to me through our adoption journey. I am so grateful for her friendship. I am honored that she has agreed to share her adoption story with us as part of our National Adoption Awareness Celebration.
Tabitha, her husband Thom, and their beautiful daughter.
My Adoption Story
After waiting for months and months (thirteen to be exact) my mother decided to call the case worker at Children’s Home Society, again. “Oh my goodness, didn’t my secretary call you?” was the response my mom got. “There is a baby girl for you.” They came to see me the next day. They say I didn’t cry; I just looked at them. My dad drove 20-miles an hour the whole way home.
One of my favorite parts of the story is when my folks were in a pre-adoption class with a dozen or so other prospective parents and the leader was asking the parents how they would “handle the problem" of telling their child they were adopted. Everyone went took a turn to discuss strategies. My folks were the last ones to answer the question. My dad, who apparently never spoke in class, answered this question with a simple question, "What problem?" My dad brags that they were the first from that group to have a child placed with them.
My parents told my adoption story with the same reverence that other parents tell birth stories. They created such an overwhelming sense of normalcy surrounding my adoption that I never even questioned that it could be different. Why would it? It is a part of who I am.
I was five-weeks old when I was placed because I was born with hip dysplasia, a condition which required me to be in a brace for my first three months. Because things were done differently back then, I was in the hospital for four weeks, and then one week with a foster parent before my mom made the check in phone call to the case worker.
They had to wait 6-months before the adoption was final. My mom says it was the most difficult time in her life. Mom says she was on pins and needles feeling like I could be snatched away at anytime, once the papers were signed and official, she said she could finally breathe again.
My favorite story growing up was, “The Chosen Baby” by Valentina Pavlovna Wasson, published in 1950. It is incredibly dated and over simplistic, but I loved it so much I later shamelessly plagiarized it for a high school literary project.
I never had that rebellious "I'm going to go find my REAL parents" fight with my folks because they WERE my real parents. Not to say that I didn't have some raging arguments with my parents, but I was so secure in my place in our family, the thought didn't occur to me. To this day, especially now that I have my own daughter, I truly don't feel like I am any less attached to my mom and dad than my daughter is attached to my husband and me.
A question that always comes up is if I have ever found my birth-parents. I have not. For the classic 1970's "closed" adoption I am fortunate to know a bit about my birth-parents. Birth mom was 19, birth dad was 17. I know a little medical history, ethnicity, and social interests. It isn’t much more than a 4-5 page questionnaire but it makes be believe that both my birth parents were involved in the adoption. I was raised with the knowledge that my birth parents wanted to do what they felt was best for me. I never felt “given away” or rejected. I know in my heart that theirs was the most thoughtful of decisions. They didn’t get to choose who would parent me, they put their faith in a system and it worked. My parents weren’t rich, in fact there were times we were quite poor when I was growing up. But that didn’t matter; I grew up with the right parents. And, the children who created me, lets face it, 17 & 19 really are still children, were able to grow up and live there own lives.
I am curious, especially for a more detailed medical history and to know if I might have any half-siblings out there (I am an only child), but I haven't actively sought them out. I would take that sort of relationship very seriously and once that door is opened it cannot be closed again. There are times, I feel like I have this nice little story in my head, a story I am happy and comfortable with, one from which no good would come if it were torn to shreds. There are times, I feel like I have so little time for my existing family that to embark on a search and possibly develop a new relationship would take more emotional fortitude than I can muster. I also know that no one has tried to seek me out either. I was born in the same city near where I was raised and where I currently live, so the search itself probably wouldn't be that hard. I may open that door someday, but not right now.
Right now, I am focusing on my family, living my life, knowing that adoption is part of who I am and who I will always be.