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Talking to your child about being adopted - From the point of view of an adoptee

Updated on November 18, 2013
My Mom and I.  Most people say we look so much alike.  Funny thing is that even though her blood isn't pumping through my veins, I completely agree that we do look related.
My Mom and I. Most people say we look so much alike. Funny thing is that even though her blood isn't pumping through my veins, I completely agree that we do look related.

For years I have struggled with fully understanding what being adopted means in my life. Stumbling through multiple emotions (including anger, frustration, admiration, confusion, and self-loathing) was a huge part of my childhood. Now my adoption, to me, is the way that I got to the parents that I was always meant to be with. From here on out in this article when I refer to “my mom” or “my dad”, I am referring to my adoptive parents, because, quite frankly, that is what they are to me: my mom and dad.

Sadly, when my mom was nineteen, she had a full hysterectomy. Some years later, after my parents got married and settled into their careers they decided that adoption was their means to completing their family. My Mom worked in the HR department at Mount Sinai Medical Hospital in Miami Beach. She had told some of her co-workers that she and my father were going to pursue adoption. I am not sure how long after they had started toying with the idea of children that I was born almost by mistake, but seems like serendipity to me.

My biological mother was fifteen when she gave birth to me at three pounds and five ounces. As the story goes: she had no idea she was pregnant when she was rushed into the emergency room of Mount Sinai and gave birth to me two and a half months premature. Her family was visiting sunny South Florida on holiday in July of 1988 from Brazil. In the middle of the night, my biological mother, complaining of severe stomach pain, was in the E.R. getting an ultrasound to see if her appendix had ruptured, my heartbeat was heard for the first time. Instead of having an appendicitis, she had me. Needless to say, her parents decided to leave their illegitimate grandchild in the custody of the hospital. My mom got a call that there was a little girl that needed a home shortly after my birth. I was very sick and too small to be brought home right away, but my parents decided that I was going to be their daughter and I could not be more grateful.

Often, when people find out that I was adopted the first words out of their mouth is, “Have you ever met your real mom?” My quick almost callus answer to this ignorant question is always, “Yes, she wiped my ass when I was little and helped pay for my college education.” Because, you see, anyone can give birth to a child, but not everyone can be a parent. Parents are made in their heart, born from the undying love and care they give to their children. The next question that is usually posed is, “How old were you when you found out?” This answer I take a lot of pride in, because I think my folks got it right, I always say with a loving smile, “I have always known.”

I feel that is the biggest gift that my parents have given to me, their honesty. Yes, when I was three I did not know what being adopted meant, I just knew I was and that was enough. I had the fortune of never being shocked by it. The other wonderful thing my parents always did was answer any questions I had to the best of their ability. I think they have told me the same things over and over and they never tired of it.

I remember the moment that I realized that my adoption made my family a little different. I was about seven and my mom and I were sitting with me in my pediatrician’s waiting room. Sitting across from us was a new mother trying to settle her crying baby. With a look of distress, she feebly attempted to grin at my mom while she asked, “How long were you in labor with your daughter?” I will never forget the loving look my mom gave me as she said, “Actually, Kristen was adopted. I think her birth mother was not in labor for too long.” The new mother looked embarrassed and apologized for asking. My mom just gave her a kind smile and said, “It is just the way my daughter was brought to me.”

Looking back on that memory, I respect my mom so much, she never lied once. Neither did my dad. He used to take me out to dinner just the two of us when I was having a rough time. He would sit, listening to my pain of feeling different or not understanding. I cannot imagine how hard that had been for either of them, because in their eyes, I was their daughter and that was that. It never once mattered to them that their blood was not pumping through my veins; they have unconditional love for me just like any other parent would for their child, maybe even more so than some.

There is no perfect way to tell your son or daughter that they are adopted, but it is their right to know. In the long run, please trust me, your child will respect you more for it. Tell them as young as you can, and when they start asking questions, answer them truthfully, even if the truth hurts. It is better coming from you honestly the first time then years down the road by mistake. Also, please think of the health reasons for your child knowing they are adopted. If, God forbid, down the road your child needs an organ transplant, what will you do then? That is not an opportune time to be outted. And now with the internet the way that it is, when I Google my name, my adoption records come up. Younger and younger, children are becoming technologically savvy. All I am trying to say is make sure that your child finds out in a loving way, not blindsided by the information. Being adopted is a beautiful thing. One by one, we need to break this taboo that our society puts on it.

My mother wrote me a story about being born in her heart; how mommies and daddies are meant to be with their children and sometimes their babies have to find them in different ways. I am so proud to call my parents mine because they were supposed to be the ones that taught me how to ride a bike and move me into my first college dorm.

To every adoptive parent out there, I commend you. And to every adoptee out there, I commend you too. I believe at a family is not made because of blood; a family is made from love. I think any mother will agree to that, adoptive or biological.

Crashing Back Down by Author Kristen Hope Mazzola, her debut novel, is now LIVE!! Don't miss out on this awesome read!

Goodreads: http://tinyurl.com/l8uqhjb
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Canada: http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00GG1KREQ
UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00GG1KREQ
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      SandraGTurner 4 years ago

      What a sweet story! I couldn't agree with you more! Being a parent has absolutely nothing to do with blood but about the love, patience and devotion of raising a child. There are a plethora of parents out there that sadly don't deserve to be called "parents". You are blessed to have your them (as they are to have you) and you are no doubt a product of their love!

    • khmazz profile image
      Author

      Kristen Mazzola 4 years ago from South Florida

      Thank you for your comment and your understanding! There are so many families out there that feel different for their means of coming together and I hope that more people like you and me help stop the stigma. Take care!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm not sure how I missed this hub. Since I am adopted you would think I would have been all over this. Your points are excellent. In our circle of friends, nobody could ever tell that I was adopted and they were always surprised to find out. Then came all the questions....and to me it just wasn't a big deal.

    • khmazz profile image
      Author

      Kristen Mazzola 4 years ago from South Florida

      That is the same way it is with me. Even after the article, some people in my life were unaware of my adoption, thankfully the article cleared up any questions they might have had so I feel like it was a successful writing venture.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      a beautiful hub. I salute your mom.

    • khmazz profile image
      Author

      Kristen Mazzola 4 years ago from South Florida

      Thank you! She really is a wonderful person!

    • Beltane73 profile image

      Holly Kline 4 years ago from South Jersey

      Love this! It's so awesome to read your story.

    • khmazz profile image
      Author

      Kristen Mazzola 4 years ago from South Florida

      Thank you Beltane73! It means so much to me when take the time to read my story.

    • johnr54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 4 years ago from Texas

      I could have written the exact words you expressed here. I love your story for it is mine too. Being adopted is the biggest gift I was ever given. God bless you and your family always!

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      This is a great reflection on your own personal experience of being adopted. I am adopted too.... And much of what you wrote I was nodding my head.

    • khmazz profile image
      Author

      Kristen Mazzola 4 years ago from South Florida

      I am always so thankful when I learn other adoptees have the same experience as I do. Thank you for dropping by and reading my story Carly! :)

    • ajwrites57 profile image

      AJ 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      khmazz thanks for sharing your story. Finding one's place in the world is important for us all. I'm glad God gave you such a wonderful place to find you! :o)

    • khmazz profile image
      Author

      Kristen Mazzola 4 years ago from South Florida

      ajwrites57, Thank you for your beautiful comment! :)

    • khmazz profile image
      Author

      Kristen Mazzola 4 years ago from South Florida

      johnr54, I dont know how I missed your comment before! I am so happy to know there are others out there that shared in the experiences of a beautiful adoption! Take care! Much love! :)

    • ajwrites57 profile image

      AJ 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      You are welcome khmazz! I'm sharing this hub!

    • khmazz profile image
      Author

      Kristen Mazzola 4 years ago from South Florida

      Thank you! That means so much!! :)

    • profile image

      Strumrgrl 4 years ago

      Everyone wants to know where they come from especially when they reach puberty. In families where a Moms belly grows and older children have the opportunity to touch and feel it, even the youngest of children can conceptualize where babies come from. This wonderful story explores the sometimes difficult way adoptive children learn how their Parents came into their lives. Told as this wonderful story exemplifies, it can be a beautiful beginning to a loving family and the life shared together. I love the authors honesty and heartfelt feelings expressed in her story.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      A lot of wisdom in your words. You are so lucky to have the parents you have and they are so lucky to have chosen you to be their daughter!

      Voted up and will share!

    • khmazz profile image
      Author

      Kristen Mazzola 4 years ago from South Florida

      Thank you so much for supporting my story!

    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 4 years ago from Canada

      I read this with much interest as I am the adoptive parent of three girls. Thank you so much for sharing your first hand account, it was touching and heart warming. So often my girls are asked about their "real mom," and it breaks my heart. Reading how well adjusted and happy you are now gives me hope. What a wonderful story.

    • khmazz profile image
      Author

      Kristen Mazzola 4 years ago from South Florida

      You are their REAL mom and I hope from now on you smile knowing that those people that misuse that term are just riddled with ignorance. I am so touched that my story can help you gain hope. My heart goes out to your family! As your girls grow their perception of the beautiful way your family came together will transform.

    • LEWMaxwell profile image

      Leslie Schock 4 years ago from Tulsa, Oklahoma

      khmazz, what a beautiful story. I gave a son up for adoption when I was 18 years old. To make a long story short, I had an open adoption and chose my son's parents. They are wonderful people, and he has grown into a wonderful person. I am his biological mom, but his "real" mom and dad are the ones who has been there for him through every thing. As much as I would have liked to have been that person, I was too young, and knew I wasn't the best person for him at that time. It wasn't easy, but it worked out the way it was meant to be.

    • khmazz profile image
      Author

      Kristen Mazzola 4 years ago from South Florida

      Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. I can only hope that my biological mom feels the same way that you do. I respect you so much, as I am sure your son does as well! You made the most selfless decision. Take care :)

    • profile image

      J. Ramirez 4 years ago

      In my opinion, this was an extremely touching subject to discuss and you pulled through and laid it right out without regrets. Kudos to Kristen! I am happy to have ran into you and definitely looking forward to your posts =) This posting gave me the choked up/teary-eyed feeling *hugs!*

    • khmazz profile image
      Author

      Kristen Mazzola 4 years ago from South Florida

      J. Ramirez Thank you so much for reading this personal account and leaving such a wonderful comment! You truly have become a good literary friend and it means the world to me! Take care!

    • profile image

      Brenda 4 years ago

      Thank you so much for sharing your story.my husband and I were given a gift from god in 2008 Christmas Eve and his name is Zachary .We feel very blessed.We will always be honest with him about his adoption as We never want to hide it from him.Again thank you

    • profile image

      Darlene 4 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your story. Everyone's story is unique and special to them. For me, I was the one giving up my baby girl for adoption. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do in this lifetime and there wasn't a day that went by that I didn't think of her and wonder where she was, if she got the blanket I made for her when she was born, if she was being taken care of....lots of wondering Then one day when she was 17, her "mom" found me. Now that is true love for a child. I have had to find my place within her life and have somewhat taken on the role of favorite auntie. Her mom and I are really like sisters and I am an auntie to her brother who is also adopted. We were both there when our granddaughters were born and have shared in many special occassions together. I have so much love and respect for the woman my daughter calls mom. We are family.

      I truly believe all things happen for a reason and this little girl was truly a gift from God..... a gift of motherhood.

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