41 years ago today, I was born in a small hospital in Northwest Iowa. 12 days later, I was adopted by a farming couple who already had a 7-year-old son of their own. I grew up in a wide open place full of fresh air, amazing people and incredible friends. I had a pony, a horse and a barn full of cats. Life was good.
As a young child, it never occurred to me that being adopted was a big deal. I always grew up knowing I was adopted. My parents never sat me down to give me the shocking news like you see on television. It was something that was just matter-of-fact in my house. It wasn’t a big deal. But that was about to change.
I was about 12-years-old when I attended a large slumber party at a friend’s house. At one point during the night, me being adopted came up and the girls all began asking me questions…questions I just couldn’t answer because I just didn’t know. When my mom picked me up the next morning, I asked her something I’m certain she’d been dreading for years.
“Do you know anything about my birth mother?”
Mom got very quiet and didn’t have a lot to say on the way home. About an hour later, there was a knock on my bedroom door. There she stood with a faded yellow envelope in her hand. She explained how after the adoption was finalized, the agency sent them some documentation they could share with me one day if they felt it was appropriate. Handing me the envelope, she turned and left.
Inside was a small booklet which gave me basic information regarding my birth mother and the birth father. Ages, heights, religion, hobbies, etc were all outlined for me to absorb. The initial shock of that moment took weeks to wear off. My mother had been a young, 16-year-old girl with blond hair and green eyes. I could only imagine how frightened she must have been, and I felt sorry for her.
Years later, I toyed with the idea of locating and meeting her. So, I wrote to the agency, and they sent me a large packet full of information that contained notes and reports from the people who’d worked on my case. The information that I’d been given as a 12-year-old girl had been a complete lie. Without going into detail, all I can say is that everything I’d believed about my birth mother had been wrong.
For years after that, I had deep seeded resentment toward someone I’d never even met. Each year as my birthday approached, I became withdrawn and sullen. I felt completely alone. The more I learned about whom my birth mother was and the circumstances surrounding where I’d come from, the more I resented her.
For a while, I stopped celebrating my birthday altogether and instead celebrated the day my parents picked me up from the adoption agency…since that was the day my life truly began. A sweet sentiment to be sure, but it didn’t solve the real issue. To be honest, I hated that 16-year-old girl who ruined my life.
Then, a few years ago, I had an epiphany of sorts. I realized that through the actions of that young girl, good or bad…right or wrong, my life is what it is today. Growing up on that farm in Iowa, in turn, became the inspiration behind my upcoming debut novel, “Haunting”. My childhood friends and family still live in that rural community and are there for me and support me in my endeavors. My weekly visits to the Sioux Center Library as a child instilled a love of reading in me that lit a fire that’s never been extinguished. In the end, being adopted gave me a life I could only dream of in one of my books.
For far too long, I allowed circumstances that were completely beyond my control to affect who I was. I nearly let it destroy me from the inside out. Then I realized that it isn’t the circumstances surrounding your conception or birth that make you who you are…it’s the person you choose to become that matters.
And I choose to be a happier version of myself.
Life is a choice. Each and every moment you experience, whether you realize it or not, is guiding you through that impossible journey called life. How you decide to value the experiences handed to you will ultimately determine your failure or success in this world.
Today, I turn 41. And I’d just like to say this to the woman who reluctantly gave me life in that small, Sioux City, Iowa hospital so many years ago.