November is national adoption month. Like millions of others, adoption has had a positive effect on my life.
When I was 11 years old, adoption brought one of the most important people in my life to me: my cousin. She is the closest person I have to a younger sister. I watched her grow up, from pushing her in a carriage and changing her diapers to hearing about college, grades and prom. She recently turned 18, which is mind-boggling to me as I remember going to court to watch her officially become a part of my family on June 8, 2000. Now I watch her on the courts being a star basketball player.
We have fought with each other, laughed together and traveled the States as a family. We have shared food, clothes, stories and fights, like all close family members.
I couldn’t imagine my life without her. It happened all because of adoption.
I have seen another side of adoption as well. This time last year, a friend of mine and her long-term significant other decided to give their daughter up for an open adoption to a wonderful couple who also had a previous connection with adoption. They lived across the country. The open adoption gave my friend the option of receiving photos and updates of their daughter through the adoption agency.
Adoption can be seen as something not easily understood or easily talked about, but as someone who has seen different sides of it, I know it is important to discuss. It can be confusing and emotional for all involved, especially for the children being adopted and the parents giving their children up for adoption. It is important to discuss adoption to promote adopting children in need of a loving home. It is also important to discuss because the people involved need support and understanding.
For me, it is easy to talk about adoption and to say that adoption is a gift. I have seen positive and negative sides. It brought my family together. It gave us another person to love. It is surrounded in love. The parents I know gave their daughter up for adoption out of love. My friend felt in her heart that another loving family would be able to provide her child with a better life than she could. Was it painful? Yes. It was truly a labor of love. It was the hardest decision she had to make, but she made it out of love. I cannot speak to the mother who gave my cousin up for adoption, but I am positive it was the hardest decision she would have to make. And I am positive she made it out of love.
I find it encouraging to know that there is valuable and accessible support for adoption. In 1996, Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell released a children’s book where the main character was adopted. I remember Tell Me Again About The Night I Was Born being staple reading at my aunt’s house.
Our family showed support for adoption in ways beyond children’s bedtime storybooks. We decided to tell my cousin right away that she was adopted. At a young age, my cousin cleverly made the connection that our stray dog turned into house dog, Cinnamon, was in the same boat as her: adopted. They’ve had a special bond ever since. My aunt decided to celebrate what is called “Gotcha Day,” or the day my cousin first came into her house and stayed.
I believe biology is important. I think families who are related by blood have a connection because of the relation. I feel that with my own family. I also believe knowing family health history is important. That said, I am a firm believer that biological relationships are not the end all, be all. I have blood relatives who want absolutely nothing to do with me, and I can comfortably live my life without them. And I have an adoptive cousin who I couldn’t imagine my life without.
If you are a mother, father, or other family member in a situation where adoption might be an option, understand that it is difficult. Know that there is support for you. You don’t have to do it alone, even if your friends and/or family aren’t being as supportive or helpful as you’d like. Even within the choice of adoption, there are options. Some families encourage open adoption. Some families want their adopted family members to have access to health records or to one day meet again. Some families want the biological parents to get updates on how their child is doing. And there is no wrong option for you to choose. Remember, there are support groups who meet online and in person. You are never alone unless you choose to be.
On the other side, if you or your loved ones are looking to make an addition to the family, deeply consider adoption. There are so many people out there who need loving homes. You can provide that loving home, and I don’t think you’ll regret it.
Megan Andreuzzi is an animal lover and a traveler from the New Jersey Shore. She earned a degree from Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania, USA in Liberal Studies with a dual concentration in writing and a minor in theater.