Welcome to 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days, hosted by Portrait of an Adoption. This series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying adoption experiences and perspectives.
Adoption didn’t make me weird, it made me wonderful.
By Beth Roper Stewart
I’ve never been embarrassed or ashamed to say that I am adopted. My parents adopted me at two weeks old in Louisville, Kentucky. They always made me feel special, wanted and loved. The bedtime story they told me every night was the inspiration for my children’s book, “One Thing Missing.”
My parents had always wanted to have a baby but thought it wasn’t possible. They prayed for years for God to give them a baby, but Mom never got pregnant. They applied for adoption and waited. Then they waited some more. One day, a lady called and said there was a baby, perfect for them, that was up for adoption. They had finally gotten their “yes”!
They went to meet me and were told to go home and think about it overnight. Momma didn’t want to put me down. She informed the social worker that she was sure she wanted me. My dad confirmed her decision.
The social worker instructed them to at least go down to the lobby and talk about it. Reluctantly, Mom put me back into the crib and got into the elevator with my dad. He pressed the button and they began descending to the first floor. They looked at each other, smiled, and Daddy said, “Let’s go get our girl.” As the doors opened to the main floor, he immediately pushed the button to return to the floor where I was waiting for them.
The social workers laughed and said, “We already began the paperwork because we knew you would be back soon.” It was just meant to be. No worry, no fear, no hesitation. I was theirs and they were mine.
My mom got pregnant shortly after my adoption and had my sister three months prematurely, making us eight months apart. She always said she prayed so hard for so long that God gave her double blessings!
We were given the same gifts, dresses, Easter baskets, stuffed animals; usually mine purple and hers pink. We weren’t twins, but we were raised like we were. My parents encouraged us to develop our individual talents; mine being music and hers being dance. We fought like all sisters do, but we had our own unique way of hurting each other.
She would scream, “You’re not even a part of this family, you’re adopted!”; to which I would rebut, “At least I was wanted! You were an accident!” At the time, it was horrifying to our mom. Today, we can laugh about it because she and dad took the time to reassure both of us of our special place in the family.
In some weird way, fighting like that made me feel more a part of the family than if I’d been treated with kid gloves. My sister and I are still extremely close, and we raised our children right around the corner from each other. They are more like siblings than cousins, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Growing up, I experienced bullying for being adopted. Not often, but it hurt when it happened. A few classmates used the “you’re not their real child” comment just because I was different. Now I realize that they were not educated on adoption, and most likely, some did not mean to hurt me. My parents would always take me into their arms, and reassure me that their love was very real. Adoption didn’t make me weird, it made me wonderful.
Most of my friends asked questions. That never bothered me, because I was happy to share my adoption story. I’d educate them on using “birth mom” instead of “real mom”, and explain that I had no aching desire to meet my biological parents, but would be willing to if they reached out. I was so happy and loved in my home that I didn’t have a hole in my heart.
One time, a teacher accused me of lying to the class about being adopted and seeking attention. We were studying genetics and I stated that I was adopted, so my traits might not match my parents’ traits. Because I looked so much like my parents and shared my dad’s talent in music, the teacher thought I was making it up. She embarrassed me.
When I told my parents that evening, it did not go over well to say the least! There was a special guest in class the next day, my daddy. He confirmed my adoption story and affirmed my honesty. I was given an apology by that teacher. I doubt she ever made that mistake again.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I experienced a curiosity that I’d never felt before. I wanted to know DNA information because I couldn’t answer my doctor’s questions about family history. I was frustrated to have to say, “I don’t know, I’m adopted.” to every question. I went online and listed myself on an adoption search site as willing to be found.
I felt a little guilty to be searching, but my mom reassured me that it wasn’t disrespectful to her and dad at all. She asked me what I would like to say to my birth mom if I met her. With tears in my eyes, I replied, “Thank you.” Mom and I shared some happy tears celebrating a lady we’d never met for giving me life.
To this day, I’ve not heard from my birth mom. I’m not actively searching. I don’t know what turns my birth parents’ lives have taken, and I would never want to disrupt them with a secret from their past. If we are led to each other, that will be wonderful. If not, my heart is full and I pray nothing but blessings upon them.
Adoption is special. It is unselfish. It is sometimes uncomfortable, but always worthwhile. If I can be of any encouragement to someone considering adoption, I would say to prayerfully examine your heart before taking the next step. It’s a forever decision that will impact a child’s life. If you are not led to take on the responsibility, then don’t.
If you cannot love and treat your adopted child exactly the same as your biological children, then don’t adopt. It’s not for everyone. It doesn’t make you any less of a parent, I promise. I actually respect those that admit they are not cut out for adoption. Not everyone is. Families come in many different forms, and adoption is only one of them.
However, if you do feel led to adopt, then go for it! There are thousands of children just waiting for a home and a family to love them. A word of caution: be careful on how often you pray, you may get doubly blessed!
Enjoy the journey and please, oh please, share the child’s story with them from the start. “One Thing Missing”, or any other children’s book on adoption, can help you get the story started. Use the book to create your own personal tale, and raise your child knowing that they are special and loved!
Beth Roper Stewart is a children’s book author, church pianist, wife to Scott, mom to Walker and Worth, daughter to Bill and Patty, and sister to Kathy. She was adopted in Louisville, Kentucky and grew up in Montgomery, Alabama. She loves music, gardening, traveling, Kentucky basketball, Saints football, and getting cuddles from her dog Zelda and cats Brees and Lexi. Her book, “One Thing Missing” published by Covenant Books, is the bed time story her parents shared with her every night. Find out more about Beth and her projects at bethroperstewart.com