“I Think My Birthmom Is Just Like You”

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Meet Valeria – a transracial adoptee.

This darling 8th grader from Southern California will surely be rocking this world with her wisdom and beautiful mind in the coming years.  After viewing Closure with her mother at the Refresh Conference, Valeria bravely came right up to me and told me that she imagines that her birth mother is just like me. I asked her why she thought this and we proceeded to have a conversation that was uniquely adult, yet sweetly innocent.  I loved her continuing spew of questions and couldn’t help but to see my younger self in her words as I listened to every single word she said.

“Do you think I’ll ever find my birth mom?” “How can I find her?” “I know that my birth mom gave me to a friend, then my foster parents picked me up from a prison. That’s all I know. With this information, how do I find her?”

Valeria and I discussed searching, and some routes towards locating her birth mother, including someday taking a trip to her birth place – Columbia. While I signed a DVD for Valeria, she asked, “Do you think my birth mom has allergies?” I was formulating my answer but Valeria’s brain got there before mine, she continued “I don’t think she does – I was stung by a bee three times in fifth grade, and it didn’t even hurt or get swollen. I’m pretty sure that my birth mom wouldn’t be affected by a bee sting either.” Her curiosity about her self, deep longing for truth and middle school youth was palpable. I could feel her words hanging in the air. I felt so honored that Valeria felt able to trust me with these questions as she sought to integrate these multiple aspects of her own identity.

I’d fashion that Valeria’s resounding beauty comes from the combination of a wisdom one can only gain from allowing strangers to adopt and parent you at an older age, combined with the safety and structure of having a home and a family. I do believe that many adoptees have this same mesmerizing spark that Valeria has, but that this sparkle can be dulled by many things – including well meaning adoptive parents not allowing these curiosities and questions to come forth, unsure if their child can handle it.  It seems obvious to me that Valeria’s future is bright, as historically some of our world’s greatest leaders are people who know how and with whom to ask the tough questions.

I am often asked to weigh in on the “correct age” to introduce conversations about their child’s birth mother, or when/if to encourage their child to begin searching for their birth parents…Let’s take a cue from Valeria (and her mother, who lovingly stood by allowing Valeria to direct where she wanted the conversation to go). What’s the harm in her curiosity? Perhaps there are unforeseen beauties within a child’s questioning. Even though our conversation centered around her story, she may never truly know how deeply impactful this conversation was for me. The ripple effects of allowing an adoptee to feel free enough to ask questions could be endless (likely both in some difficult and positive ways).

In the grand scheme of things I know that my conversation with Valeria is just beginning. Thankfully we were able to get in a final hug, but not before she asked me “Do you ever feel mad at your birth mom?”

***   This post was written with the permission of Valeria’s mother, who lovingly stated “it was as if you were the only two people in the room. It was beautiful; I saw a spark in her eyes.”  ***

14 thoughts on ““I Think My Birthmom Is Just Like You”

  1. I sat behind Valeria and her mom at one of the workshops. They both sat upright and strong in their chairs but often came close to snuggle into each other’s shoulders and whisper what I assumed were questions and ideas about their journeys– faces pressed into each other’s hair speaking directly to each other in a room packed with people– it didn’t seem like they could be closer. I was distracted to as the least and had really wished THEY were the ones up on stage sharing. Thank you for this glimpse . Please thank Valeria for me too if you ever get the chance. The ripples reach far and wide.

    I love, love your sparkle theme… but damn, how do you make me cry at 7am through email!? 🙂

    Love you. K.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this very moving moment you shared with this young girl. The unknown is such a powerful force, especially something so important as not knowing where you came from. Comfort comes in discovering that you are not the only one. It sounds as if your story has given this young lady some comfort that she needed!

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  3. Angela, thank you! Thank you for sharing your story with adoptive families. Thank you for sharing your story with other adoptees. This gives me hope that the kids I adopt will have access to the lived experiences of other adoptees. I know that I will be a better parent because of your story. THANK YOU!

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  4. You’re welcome, Stephanie. Yes, there is much power in learning that there are others who also understand what it’s like to live within the unknown.

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  5. Hi Angela, Meeting you was an answer to prayer. I knew the conference was not for adoptees but I still felt like taking Valeria was a good idea. She struggles with accepting love from me, her family, the world due to rejection felt by her birth mother’s choice. My prayer for the conference was for her to get a glimpse of not only how I see her, but how God sees her. Your interaction with her, encouragement and kind words since then has given her that glimpse. I get that in this time in her life she wants to know where she came from as she defines where she is going. But with so many gaps in that path she stops, stumbles and falls down. You created bridges for her…for us…that day. You are now a huge part of Valeria’s journey for answers and beautiful surprises in her young life. Forever connected! So much love to you! Valeria’s Forever Mom

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  6. My almost 11yo daughter (Chinese adoptee) struggles with being adopted and wanting to know “her story” and locate her first family (something we are beginning to work on, with her blessing) … I am lucky because she is a very articulate young woman who knows that talking about her feelings, despite being difficult, is the best thing for her, that while hard at times, feels better than bottling it up. Last night she told me that she liked that she could talk to me and that I didn’t tell her how to feel, or that I understood (because I can’t). We live in a very diverse area where she sees her face reflected back to her in all aspects of her life, and we did live in her birth country for a couple years which was a positive experience – thus she is very happy with being Asian (her desire is not that she would be white, but rather that I be Asian). I am so proud of my daughter, and am confident that despite the negatives of her adoption (she feels that there are no positives, except for my husband & I – I agree), she will grow into a powerful voice for adoption and adoptees … watch out world!

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  7. ‘Watch out world’ is right! I am very excited to hear about young, wise adoptees who are being encouraged to pursue their own truth. Thanks for your comment, Elizabeth. Sounds like a wonderful daughter you’ve got.

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