In honor of National Adoption Awareness Month, MTV News asked readers: What does adoption look like in 2015?
Were you adopted as an infant or as a teen? Are you an interracial adoptee? Do you have a relationship with your birth parents? What are the biggest misconceptions people have about adoption? What do you wish they knew? Share your story by emailing email@example.com.
By Stephanie, 19
I am adopted and I wish people would stop using the term "real parents" to refer to my birth parents.
My real parents are the parents who raised me -- the ones who did more than just create me. Birth parents in the grand scheme of things are blips in time, only giving birth to you. But it's your parents that give you life. Being adopted as a infant is the ideal option: It allows for the nature versus nurture debate to be discussed. After meeting my birth mother and having communication with my birth father, I can attest to the fact that I was more nurture than nature. My birth mother was 15 when she gave birth to me and now being 35 with four other children and the maturity level of an 18-year-old, it makes a relationship difficult.
I first discovered my birth mother and father through Facebook. After a year of anonymously creeping, I decided to send a message to my birth mother. After conversing online for a couple of weeks, we decided to meet up. Upon first meeting, I felt I used as a prop for a photo session. These photos were later posted on Facebook receiving many likes and comments from varying men and family members. After parading me around her dilapidated apartment complex introducing me to her neighbors as her daughter, and her other kids as being their sister; we spent an hour discussing trivial matters about my life such as if I had enough presents at Christmases and birthdays, and if I was popular in high school. We discussed her varying accomplishments, which included raising "good-looking" children, and being a good stay-at-home single mother.
She discussed how my 14-year-old birth father abandoned her due to the fact his parents were moving. In her eyes, he left her, when in reality, he left months before her due date and was not aware of me until after my first birthday; at which point my birth mother decided to reach out to him. My birth father's family attempted to fight for custody for me, but given the fact that it was a closed adoption and already sealed there was nothing they could do. In hindsight, it was the best. He now has three beautiful girls with a fourth child on the way and is married to his high school sweetheart. He seems normal in contrast to my birth mother, and although I would like to meet him, it will have to wait until this summer as he lives a few thousand kilometers away from me.
After our initial meeting, I met with my birth mother one more time and also met my biological grandparents on her side. My maternal birth grandparents are divorced; one is an alcoholic with failing health, the other a seemingly intelligent middle management grocery store employee. I have yet to meet my eldest half sibling I have who just turned 18. My eldest half-brother is currently in grade 12, but doesn't attend school, has never held a job and his Facebook posts consist mainly of drug references and photos of him participating in drug use. This would have been my reality if I was not giving up for adoption.
My life was forever altered the day I was given up and I am eternally grateful for the difficult choice she made. If I hadn't been adopted, the statistics would have been against me. I would have been a child to a teenage single mother, with a family history of addiction, alcoholism and divorce. I would have grown up with varying men coming and going from my life, leaving me without a stable father figure. I would have been living in a significantly lower socioeconomic background, and never would have attend post-secondary education. I went from having that as my future to growing up in a middle-class environment with beyond loving parents who are still married after 33 years. I was blessed enough to live in the Canadian Rockies for a chunk of my childhood, to go on family vacations, to have the best family support system and role models, amazing grandparents and grow up being an only child. However, the most important thing of all is that I've had opportunities to make sure I had a chance in life -- something I would not have been given had I not been placed for adoption.
People have many misconceptions about adoption. Some think it's an easy process and anyone can adopt when in reality, it's a long and intense process. My parents waited approximately seven years before the home study procedures took place through social services. They were placed under a microscope with questionnaires, home visits, provided proof of income, references and much more -- all to ensure that they were "good enough" candidates to raise a child. Now the irony is that when you go to a hospital to give birth, they don't ask to see you for pay stubs before releasing the child to you. They don't ensure that your home is fit enough for a child. They don't ask you to get people to write letters stating why you would be a good mother -- you can just take the child home.