A Birth Family Member Perspective of Adoption

 

I was only a child myself when I learned my sister was pregnant and I would be an aunt again. While I went through the excitement of becoming an aunt once before when my oldest sister had her first child, this time was different. I did not understand why my sister was not going to school, instead having someone come over to teach her because of the judgement she would receive at school. I did not understand why I was sitting in an office listening to my parents talk to lawyers and another family who wanted to raise my sister’s child because she and the dad were just kids themselves. I did not yet understand why there was so much tension and stress in the house and in the family surrounding this pregnancy. A time that is supposed to bring so much joy and excitement.

What I later learned was that my sister, at sixteen years old, was making an adoption plan for her child. While my parents fought and fought to take custody and raise her, I now know letting my sister choose adoption was the right choice for my niece.

Fast forward to Fall 2020 when we receive a text from my mom. “Isabell {name changed for privacy} has contacted your sister”. So many thoughts instantly started racing through our minds. After growing up knowing that in all actuality, I had five nieces instead of four was always a strange feeling. There was one out there I knew nothing about other than she was still living in the area close to her parents. Here we are 30 years later and she wants to know about her birth family. We all wondered, “Did she want to have a relationship?”, “Did she want to meet us?”, “What did she look like?”.  So often you think of this day and what it will be like, or if it will even happen. Yet, here we are and she found us through a DNA match in Ancestry DNA.

I wish I could say that these questions were answered face to face with my niece, but they were not. We were blessed to meet her mother and hear all the lovely stories of her growing up. My mom, both sisters and her mom sat around my mom’s dining room table enjoying tea and listening to stories about her childhood, school successes, struggles and goals. We had the joy of looking through photo albums from birth all the way up to her recent wedding. We were able to see how much she really does look like my sister and hear how similar her personality was to that of my sister’s. While we did not get to meet the daughter my sister chose adoption for, she did. She was able to meet her daughter for coffee and begin creating a relationship. Over one year later, the two continue to write back and forth to one another.

As I sit and write this, I remember a time when my sister knew her daughter was approaching the age of 18, the age when many adoptees start trying to find their birth parents. We were sitting at Culver’s when she looks at me and tells me that she feels abortion and adoption are just as hard a choice as the other is. I thought to myself “How could she possibly think this?”, but my sister felt these choices were of equal outcomes because she thought she would never meet her, never know how she grew up or what she looked like. She was non-existent in her perspective. I’m here to tell you now that even though I still do not know if I will ever see or talk to my niece, the gathering we shared years after this conversation gave me the opportunity to see the wonderful life my niece was given. A life that offered stability, love and direction. A life that allowed her to be successful in school eventually earning her Masters and moving to Massachusetts with her husband. Even though I have never met her, I am still so very proud of her and grateful my sister chose adoption.

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