I recently posted one of those Instagram challenges “8 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Me” – and posted that I never had a relationship with my biological father and was legally adopted at the age of 12. A friend that I’ve known almost my entire life and a very close friend of my adopted dad’s family replied “How have I known you basically my whole life and never knew this?!”
Not knowing my biological father really wasn’t something that I let consume a lot of my life. If you aren’t a family member or someone I talk to daily, it probably hasn’t ever come up in conversation. I have known my entire life that a series of unfortunate habits are what ultimately led to the separation of my biological dad and my mom. I could have chosen to carry an attitude of sadness and hurt by the fact that my biological father wasn’t a part of my life, but instead, I’ve always chosen to focus on the fact that my life was made infinitely better by my mom marrying my dad.
If my mom hadn’t divorced my biological father and hadn’t met my dad when I was eighteen months old, I wouldn’t have my Nannee and Grandad and the hundreds of wonderful memories I’ve been blessed with in the 30 years they have been a part of my life. I wouldn’t have 3 amazing cousins & my uncle and his wife. I likely wouldn’t have been afforded near the number of opportunities I have had. Most importantly, I wouldn’t have my dad and my brother, two of the most important men in my life.
Thankfully for me, my dad entered my life at such a young age, that I really never knew life any different. He fixed my hair, took me to preschool, played school with me every time I asked, babysat all my baby dolls, and taught me how to ride a bike. My dad participated (perhaps a little too much) in every science fair I ever entered.
He attended cheerleading events, helped with homework, drove me to school dances, taught me how to golf, how to mow, how to hunt, and probably most importantly – taught me that “money doesn’t grow on trees and we aren’t heating the whole outdoors!” Seriously – I never leave a room without turning off the light first as to not waste one ounce of electricity. He paid for my college, bought me my first car, put up with my teenage attitude, and loved me through it all, just as he loved my brother, his biological child.
So many times I’ve been somewhere with people who have no idea I was adopted, and they say “Wow you look so much like your dad!” Or “Obviously that’s your dad. You look just like him.”
There’s nothing like seeing my dad’s face light up and him shoot me a smile from across the room because we both know there’s literally no chance of us looking alike, but he’s proud when people think that we do. This just goes to show that people honestly have no clue that I was adopted, because I was lucky to have a dad who just accepted me as his own from the start.
November is National Adoption Awareness Month. It is not lost on me the sacrifice of both the adopting parent and the biological parent. My dad definitely did not have to just openly accept me when he met my mom, but he did so without hesitation. He jokingly says I was the reason he stuck around.
I’ll also never forget where I was standing in my living room the day I had to call my biological father at 12 years old and ask for his permission to let my dad adopt me. I can still hear the pain in his voice as he choked back tears and asked “are you sure that’s what you want?” I can only imagine how hard that must have been for him, but also in some ways relieving knowing that his daughter was being given a life well beyond what he likely would have been able to provide.
Being adopted can mean so many things for so many people. Everyone is adopted due to differing circumstances, and not everyone’s stories are even remotely the same. I am well aware that my situation is rare, and I’m fortunate for the many blessings I’ve received in my life because my dad chose to officially adopt me and choose me as his own daughter.