When I was a little girl, I used to think that adopted babies were kept in a little room on shelves where their new mommies and daddies would come pick them out. Choose them. The beautiful thing is that there’s something to that the idea of choice, and soul connections and all that jazz that also bring you together with your parents.
I dedicate my story to all of those who have been adopted. And I may come back and add more later. This is a story that wanted to be shared now…
I have always known I was adopted. The Chosen Baby was a book my parents read to me from when I was a baby. That is how I learned I was adopted. They said they picked me, that I was chosen.
The Chosen Baby is an amazing book about a loving couple the Browns who adopt a little boy named Peter and then they adopt his baby sister Mary. Quite lovely. My parents told me from the beginning, and it was a beautiful thing. There never was a time that I did not know that I was adopted.
I still have this book.
And don’t get me started on how incredibly lucky I was to find my parents, or that they found me. They are the two people in this world that I love and respect more than anyone. They are strong, smart, giving, caring, supportive, loving and the most beautiful souls. I am truly blessed. And yes, they are always right…well, almost always. Especially when it comes to being a good judge of character.
When you grow up being adopted, kids may tease you. It did not happen very often to me as I got along very well with the other kids in my neighborhood and at school, and I had lots of friends. Every now and then someone might tease “your mommy and daddy gave you away!” My reply was always the same – “my parents picked *me*!” That usually did the trick. And I believed it. I grew up surrounded in love. Still am.
The other thing is that being adopted results in several things. It makes you more independent. You find and make friends easier and they become important to you – like your brothers or sisters of choice. You are a loyal friend. My friends are my adopted siblings in a way, yet without all that sibling drama that I hear about – no fighting. Yeah, I don’t have drama in my circle of friends. Never have. I just release that from my life. Life is too short!
I remember when I was a little girl, and Mom asked me if I wanted a little brother or sister. I said no. She doesn’t remember that now, but I always have remembered it. We did not have much money either, so I think between the two things that made the decision for my parents. They wanted to give me the life they never had, and having more children would have stretched their resources.
My parents sacrificed for me, my college education in particular at American University in DC. Grandma, the one who I helped when she died about two years ago, she used to buy Mom clothes so Mom would have something nice and new when I was in college. We were that short on money. But I got my education.
My parents have always been – and are – the hardest working folks you will ever meet! This is where I learned the value of hard work, determination, not asking for things to be given to you, earning your way, taking care of yourself, having responsibility. My Dad also taught me that you can do anything you want to do if you set your mind to it. But most important? This is where I learned about character. Character. Integrity. Love.
The other thing that happens when you are adopted and even more so as an only child, is you learn to communicate with folks of all ages. I was never scooted out of the room. I was always part of the adult conversations, my entire life. The adults around me listened to me, respected me and taught me how to respect myself. They taught me right from wrong. They taught me to be who I am – to be me. This is where I learned to communicate, which has served me so well in all areas of my life.
Folks used to ask me through the years, and still do, “don’t you want to meet your real parents?” My reply was “no, of course not – I already know my real parents.”
The one thing I did want to know, which is random, but it was what color was my biological mother’s hair? I got that answer.
As so many things in life and on a spiritual path, health issues can drive you to the most beautiful experiences. In 1989, after I graduated from college, I sought out the non-identifying information from the adoption agency where I was adopted. I was seeking more information on my health related background. They sent me a three page letter, telling me the story of my birth and adoption.
There were no pictures, but my biological mother was described as 5’2”, 110 pounds, blonde hair and blue eyes. Yep…just like me.
There were two interesting things I learned.
First, she was adopted! Now remember that back then, this was not as common or as discussed. That was a huge surprise. It was a closed adoption, and they knew nothing of her heritage. My parents were told I was German. This letter mentioned being at least part Polish. On my biological father’s side, the second interesting thing was that my biological grandmother was described as being 5’ tall and had a darker, olive complexion. Hmm. I used to joke that when I got married and if I ever had a biological child, that my husband might wonder if it was his, lol.
I kept the letter in my Bible, and it is still there.
And then I started to travel.
As I traveled throughout Europe, I was interested to see who might look like me. When you grow up around your parents, even if you are adopted, you take on similar mannerisms and it makes you look alike. Though really, I grew up around folks that did not look like me exactly. When I got to Poland, I realized that there were blonde Polish folks that had the same facial shape as I did. I have a great picture of me with one of our tour guides, and it is amazing. But I knew there was much more to the story than that.
None of this ever bothered me. And it still doesn’t. There never was any crisis. I built a solid identity for myself. As an adopted child, early on you learn the power of creating your own life. And I had a solid life foundation. I was loved by my parents. I was loved by those who had to place me for adoption. It was all love, all the time. So I didn’t really think about it that much over the years, just when someone would ask me about it.
Fast forward about 18 years. But first let me set the stage for the rest of this story…
I was a lobbyist for the home building industry with a successful big time gig as Senior Staff Vice President for Government Affairs during that 18 years, and all my time and energy went there. I was the youngest to ever run my department, and I was the only woman to have ever done it. It was a man’s world. I broke all the boundaries. I exceeded all the goals. I thrived and was wildly successful.
At the same time, I felt it was the right time to venture out and make a change to see what was the next fabulous opportunity on my career path. So in 2008, I did the unthinkable. I left this job. Quit. I just quit. I quit it without having another gig. I knew that as long as I stayed there, I would never leave – I would never look for another job. I was too passionate about my work and dedicated to take the time to do it.
So I quit.
Sometimes quitting is the right thing to do, with anything. I have learned to embrace change in life, and it always brings such blessings, as you are about to see in my story here. So I learned the beautiful lesson of quitting.
I’m reminded of my favorite quote from the movie Risky Business – Take your chance. Make your move. Freedom gives you opportunity. Opportunity is what makes your future. So that’s what I did. I made my move. I took my chance. I was free. A pattern I was to intentionally repeat, with more blessings every time I did it.
I ended up in one of the most amazing experiences of my life, well, so many amazing experiences! First, I met with many business leaders in the St. Louis region. I met with everyone I could. For many years later, and still to this day, I was used as an example of how to do it. I was asked to help others, which I did. I helped them learn to talk to people, ask for meetings, meet with them. I do not like the word networking because those I met with are much more than a contact to me. They are a friend, and we have helped each other many times since then. And this is what I helped others to do.
During this time, I also had the most amazing interview process with a Fortune 500 company. I was the only candidate they flew to DC. Another male dominated industry. And when I met with their leadership, it was an incredible experience – I will never forget it. Such a gift! They ended up having a merger, so I did not get the gig as they had to hire someone from the other company. But that was best too. But man oh man wasn’t that fun!
And then it led me to the Presidential campaign. It was the 2008 cycle, and I was looking for something to do with my time and keep me busy while I looked for the next gig. So I called the campaign to volunteer, and low and behold, they asked to hire me and the Political Director asked if I could “start tomorrow.” Wow.
I was a Field Director, and we won our state. Those huge rallies that I worked on were incredible! Such high energy. Long hours. Friends for life. Amazing stories and times. That political director just had her second baby – such a beautiful little girl! We are all still dear friends. Oh, and I got to meet Hank Williams, Jr. and Miranda Lambert before she was popular. That was so fun! Hard work always pays off in so many beautiful ways.
Then I got my next gig. I lobbied for a cutting edge $4.5 billion power plant and coal mine that was being built in our region. It had all the environmental bells and whistles that were available at the time. I loved working in the power industry. This gig was the key turning point of this story, and it has nothing to do with the details of that gig.
I set up a legislative day for our owners – rural electric coops and municipalities – in the Illinois State Capitol. I think I might remember the date – it was April 23 I believe – and the year was 2010. We happened, as I like to say “for some reason,” to be there in the building the very day they passed the adoption law!
This was why I was meant to work there.
What was this adoption law? Well, it said that if the birth parents did not object by November 2010 that you could request your unredacted *original* birth certificate from the State of Illinois for closed adoptions. Wow. The piece of paper. I had never really thought about it before. The original birth certificate. Opening the vaults of the state justice system. Really? Wow.
So I waited. Come the deadline in November 2010, I filled out my form and I sent it to the State of Illinois. And I waited again.
By this point, I was a lobbyist in Jefferson City for education reform, telecommunications, tax reform and some health care work. I really enjoyed the education reform and telecommunications issues.
And come February 2011, I got the letter.
I was on the phone with a friend and went to my mailbox. I wondered why in the world I had something from the Illinois Dept. of Health. Then it occurred to me.
This is THE letter!
That’s all I could say, over and over again while I opened the envelope.
This is THE letter! THE letter!
And there it was… The un-redacted birth certificate.
My birthmother’s name. No mention of my birthfather. The address of her parents’ house.
And the biggest discovery?
She named me…after her.
Wow, what a gift, what a blessing, what a send off of love! Just beautiful!
Now, folks still ask me, don’t you want to meet her? Don’t you want to find them? My answer is, not really. I do have an interest in knowing if she is alive and what happened to her. I am interested in more about my biological father’s mother’s heritage. I also know that I had a biological brother or half brother that was a year or two older than me that she had put up for adoption before me, which I’d known since 1989. So brothers and sisters are an interest of mine, down the road some day. I will know when the time is right.
It always reminds me of the idea of “just in time arrival” from my MBA program. Synchronicities never cease to amaze me. So I had this paper, this record of my birth. Just incredible!
I eventually left the lobbying gig to take a position in 2012 with a U.S. Senate campaign, which was fun. About the time that it ended in fall of 2012, I was in the midst of my year long womb journey and did freelance work during that time.
Every choice, every decision, led me to that beautiful and powerful moment.
Back to Risky Business again – take a chance, make your move. Those lines struck me as a teen, because there is wisdom to be found there.
This past year held great power and beauty of going within and embracing my womanhood, looking back at all I have accomplished in my career and in my life.
Now I have a great position as Director of Public Policy for a long-term care advocacy organization, advocating on legislation that impacts long-term care consumers. I am also a Martha Beck Life-Coach in Training, in the midst of a 10 month intensive live coach training program. I highly recommend her books to my friends and coaching clients.
I did not lose my womanhood. I did not lose my power. Quite to the contrary…I got it all back! I healed myself. I can’t wait to see what comes next!
And I look forward to helping other women on their journeys, to empower women to discover their inner courage and stand fully in their own power to create their life the way they want to live it.
Join me on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/youcandreamyourlife.