This is the nineteenth post of "30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days," a series designed to give a voice to people with widely varying experiences, including birthparents, adoptees, adoptive parents, foster parents, waiting adoptive parents and others touched by adoption.
But Then The Greatest Moment Of My Whole Life Occurred
Written by Bruce Ellis for Portrait of an Adoption
As I go back through my family history, adoption shows up here and there. I have several cousins who were adopted. Some were adopted because a parent married into the family, and others were adopted at birth.
In my own nuclear family, I have encountered both of these situations. My wife was born in October 1970 and placed for adoption immediately. Her parents had been trying to adopt a second child for approximately seven years. (My brother-in-law was adopted when he was 2 years old). Both my wife and her brother were raised with awareness that they were adopted. Their parents joined a group for parents of adopted children in order to make them feel more normal and accepted.
Still, my wife has always faced questions throughout her entire life. When she was 21, she gave birth to Eddie. When he was born, the doctors told her that he only had one kidney, and she would have to be cognizant of any injuries he sustained that could cause problems, since he did not have a second kidney like everyone else.
When a child comes into your life, the experience brings with it an amazing number of joys and fears. My wife became terrified about what other genetic or medical issues she might not be aware of due to being adopted, and she petitioned the court to unseal her adoption records. The courts agreed, and over the next several years she searched without success for either of her biological parents.
Finally, in desperation, my wife turned to a friend she met online who worked as a private investigator. One week later, she had the address of her biological mother! She has told me the story of their first meeting so many times that I can almost imagine myself there for that tearful experience.
My wife has developed a strong bond with both families, even though they do not socialize with each other. Her birth family still calls her by her birth name, and her biological mother calls her by her family nickname.
Both groups have been there for her at different times in the past when she needed them. And both groups have driven her crazy because they are her family. When I met and started dating her, this was the situation that I walked into, and more than gladly accepted.
But I also walked into the life of an 8-year-old boy who had not had a male role model since his grandfather passed away several years earlier.
When I proposed to my wife, it was with full knowledge that I was joining a family. We waited for a couple years before I proceeded to adopt Eddie, first to give Eddie the chance to be old enough to have a voice in the adoption process, and second in an attempt to locate Eddie’s biological father to sign away his rights.
In the end, both things worked out, and I legally adopted my son. By this time, he was almost 10 years old. I have watched him grow from a timid young boy into a strong young man. I may not agree with all of the choices that he has made in his life, but I am proud of the way he has stood by his choices and accepted the consequences.
Recently, he has had the chance to get to know his biological father (whom he had not seen since he was 4 years old). I remember the cold pit in the bottom of my stomach the first time they went to go hang out somewhere without my wife or me. Eddie and his biological father had been out having a bite to eat and having some fun. It is a lot easier to be the fun dad when you don’t have to deal with the day-to-day bills!
But then the greatest moment of my whole life occurred. My son came home and came out onto the back deck where I was hanging out. We talked a little about nothing in general. Then he turned to me and said: “He is okay as a buddy, but you are my Dad.”
Portrait of an Adoption is hosted by Carrie Goldman, author of Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear. If you have a story you would like to submit as a candidate for next year's series, please email it to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.