A Huge Part of My Life – World Adoption Day

Coleen on dock

World Adoption Day

In celebration of the upcoming 1st ever World Adoption Day on November 9th, Doog News, as an Ambassador for this exciting event, has invited friends who are connected to adoption in a variety of different ways to submit writings about adoption. Between now and November 9th we're excited to post these stories to give some insight into what life is like when it involves adoption. We encourage you to follow along and read the various postings whether it's about a family who has adopted a child, to someone who was adopted, to the perspective of an adoption counsellor, and even a family who has decided to adopt and now waits and wonders if and when they'll be parents. In all of these stories there is one common factor: love. Please join us on this celebratory journey as we lead up to World Adoption Day.

An interesting statistic I learned recently is that 1 in 6 people in British Columbia are somehow connected to adoption. And we’d like to introduce you to Coleen who is most definitely one of those people. She knows adoption more than most people and you’ll learn why in her story below. Enjoy!

ADOPTION, A HUGE PART OF MY LIFE

Adopt – to take in, take on, assume or accept.  Yup, that pretty much sums it up but it’s also so much more.

My name is Coleen and adoption has been a huge part of my life and still is.  I, in the standard of adoption and after the 10 day waiting period, was adopted by two of the best people you could imagine.  A loving couple that, for whatever reason (medicine wasn’t what it is today), could not have biological children but through the adoption process could still have children of their own.  And so my life began.

I cannot ever remember being told I was adopted, I have always just known.  It was never a big deal, lots of kids were adopted.  My parents told the story of how they ‘picked me specially’, they could have chosen anyone, but they picked me.  I always imagined a large room with thousands of babies and them wandering through the aisles until they stopped and locked eyes with me, gasped and said “She’s the one!”.   It did make me feel special and I have always been thankful that I was a ‘wanted’ baby.  My parents truly wanted to be parents and had to earn that right, and when you earn things, you tend to appreciate them so much more than if you are just given them.

Baby Coleen

Baby Coleen

I had a normal childhood, no wait….I had the best childhood.  I was given every opportunity, I never wanted for anything, I was encouraged at every step and I ALWAYS felt loved.  I could not have asked for more except that there was always a missing piece, something inside me that craved knowledge of where I came from, there was a curiosity that couldn’t be quieted.  Who did I look like, what was my story, did I have siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – of course I did, but did they wonder about me too?

Coleen and brother

Coleen and her brother Ken

I took the leap of finding out in August 2000.  With the worried blessing of my Mom who pointed out that the laws had changed and that it was now easier than ever to access adoption information, she knew I needed to know, she knew me.  I reassured her that in my heart there was no competition for who held the title of Mom and Dad, it belonged to the people who earned it by nurturing and sacrificing and putting up with me for the past 30 years, it belonged to her.

Long story short?  I contacted my birth family and was not only welcomed with open arms but told they were waiting for me.  I was shocked, I had prepared myself for the distinct possibility that life had gone on after my arrival and that knowledge of my existence may upset current relationships.  I was lucky, I was again ‘wanted’.  It has been 14 years and my relationship with them is good.  Easy.  Comfortable. Strange.  Strange in that I think genetics play a larger role than I previously believed or maybe again, I am just lucky.  I fit, I fit in both families.  I am a mix of worlds, a good mix I think.  There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child.  My village is just a little different.

So now my family count is enormous but, as I have always said, you can never have enough family!  You need a flow-chart to follow along, but I am happy.  There is no box that families fit in and nor should there be, family is what you make of it and a lot of the time, that does not involve blood.

Remember when I said that adoption is a huge part of my life?  Well, my story doesn’t end here.

When I was 19 years old, I got pregnant and found myself with a choice.  Not an easy choice by any means but somewhat easier given my history and personal experience.  I chose to give my baby up for adoption, knowing that as with my parents, there was a loving couple who was unable to have biological children of their own who would cherish this gift.

I chose private adoption and did not suffer from lack of case files to choose from.  I spent many hours poring through file after file, reading heart-wrenching tales and feeling the plights of deserving couples desperate to be parents.  If I could have given them all children, I almost would have.  Adoption is not as easy as it once was, available babies are not as plentiful and it seems that infertility is increasing, wait times are often long, very long.  My heart ached and I cried for these people, how could I choose?

I did, but not who I thought I would.  I started with the thought that since there was not enough babies to go around that someone who already had a child should be ruled out.  However, the difference in confidence and what I would describe as personality was obvious and so I kept coming back to one file, a couple that already had previously adopted a child, a boy.  A big brother was a good thing to have, I had one growing up so I know.  To this day, he is one of my best friends, biggest supporter and advocate.

Even though I had selected them prior to giving birth, I decided to not inform them of my decision until the 10th day, I didn’t want to crush a dream, just in case I changed my mind.  I also wanted to spend every possible minute with my baby before he was no longer mine.  No one had the right to take that time from me and I made sure of it, feeding, changing and visiting all day, every day while I could but the day came and a meeting was set.  At 5pm on November 21st, 1989,  I told a happy, yet almost totally unprepared couple thanks to my timing, that for a second time they had been chosen and made their dreams come true.  As happy as I was for them and felt sure that it was the right decision, my world kind of felt like it temporarily ended and something in me would now be missing, potentially forever.  Without question, the hardest day of my life to date.

Almost 25 years later and we are at the first ever World Adoption Day, celebrating!  I hold out hope that one day, soon, my son and I will be re-united and have taken the first baby steps in the process.  I just need to get over my fear and shining the spotlight on adoption is a great step in supporting everyone affected by it, including me.  Adoption?  Huge part of my life and grateful for it.

 

World Adoption Day is November 9th, 2014. To find out how you can join in the celebration visit WorldAdoptionDay.org and have a Doog News Day!

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Doog News is proud to be an official Ambassador of World Adoption Day. Learn more about our adoption story here and we’ll be sharing more about our story this Sunday, World Adoption Day!

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