If you cry easily, this might not be the best post for you. Because today, I’m going to tell you all my adoption story.
If we’ve talked for any length of time, really, my adoption has probably come up in conversation, because it’s something I’m immensely proud of. My parents PICKED me. How many kids can say that? I have a large, extended family, that is beyond wonderful and amazing and supportive and LOUD (you guys know who you are…). And on top of that, how many people can say that they’re the oldest, middle, youngest, AND only child? (More on that later).
Okay. If you’re still reading, we’re going to make it through now. I think all the super weepers are gone. 😉
I was born three days before Halloween, on a Monday afternoon, to a 14-year-old girl, in Northern Oklahoma. My biological mom debated on naming me Pocahontas, but ended up deciding on Natasha at the recommendation of an uncle (thanks Uncle Sonny!).
J and I were in foster care together for a while, living with some fantastic foster parents (I’m looking at you, Bruce and Judy) that I’m still in contact with, 25ish years later, and a group home in Oklahoma City that’s no longer functioning. Then when I was 2 1/2, I was separated from J and put into my own foster home, with my parents, Fred and Joniece. Here’s what I remember about that day.
I remember the rain on the windshield. I remember watching the windshield wipers swipe back and forth, back and forth, and being fascinated by the strip of blue at the top of the windshield that serves as a visor. I remember being told that I was going to live with a nice family where I would have a mom and a dad, and I remember being so, so excited about having a dad, because I didn’t have one.
When we got to my parents’ house, I remember my parents on the porch. And I remember my mom waving excitedly at the car. I’ve been told that I was in love with their labrador mix, Bear, and terrified of their rat terrier, Little Bob, because he would jump on me. I’ve also been told that I was so excited to FINALLY have a daddy, that when he picked me up, I peed all over him.
My parents decided to become foster parents after my mom worked at Head Start and saw a desperate need for foster parents. She went home after a particularly nasty experience with a child being sent back to an unsafe home, that she went home and launched into a 30 minute diatribe on the benefits of being a foster parent. Legend says, when she finished speaking, my dad said “Let’s do it.” I was their first placement.
I loved my daddy. More than anything in the whole world. So much so, it took me a few weeks to really be interested in having a mom (sorry Mama. I love you.). I hated going to bed so much that my mom took me to local doctor and got a recommendation for a new nighttime routine.
And so a new tradition was born. 3 books, and no more, and a glass of warm milk with “sleeping powder” (strawberry nesquick). And finally, right before bed, my mom would make a shadow puppet of a duck face and say “Quack, quack, see you in the morning.” As a promise she’d still be there when I woke up.
For those unfamiliar with foster care, the ultimate goal is reunification of families. So while I was living with my parents, J was taking classes and training and working towards regaining parental custody, which means over a period of time, visitation was added, starting with supervised visits to unsupervised.
The spring that I was 5, my bio mom was given full parental custody. My parents had a going away party for me, and I remember the presents I got, but I also know that I didn’t realize that I was leaving like…forever.
Not long after, something devastating happened. Something that I don’t remember. But what I do remember is sobbing hysterically, and begging her to call my dad. She finally handed me the phone, and I remember begging him to come get me.
A few weeks after, on May 8, 1997, my adoption was finalized. I was finally, forever, home.
As the years went on, I encountered horribly mean boys in middle school that made fun of me for being adopted (which is where I learned the MY parents PICKED ME line). I struggled with my identity (Who am I? Where am I from?) and I have been to multiple counselors over the years. But this much I know is true.
Fred and Joniece are my mom and dad. Not my adoptive parents. Not my foster parents. My mother and my father. They held me and cuddled me. They made me milk with sleeping powder and told me “Quack, quack, see you in the morning.” My dad took me to air shows in the Spring, and my mom took me for ice cream cones with a cherry on top at Foster’s on the first day of school. They held my hands the first time I got stitches. They held my heart when it was broken. And broken again. And when my daughter was rushed to the NICU shortly after delivery and I had no idea what was happening, my dad followed her, and my mom stayed with me and held me while I cried.
For twenty years, my parents have done everything in their power to make sure that I am loved, supported, and respected. They have loved my husband and my daughter. They have given me my space. They have respected my decisions as an adult, even if they don’t fully agree with or understand them. And they have never made me feel anything but safe and loved.
And if that doesn’t sound like real parenting to you, well then, you’re in the wrong place.
Twenty years. Forever home.