ADOPTION ADVICE FROM AN ADOPTEE

Tina Barr photos

Written by Christina Bauerr

My name is Christina and I was adopted with my biological brother at the age of 4.

Adoption was a normal part of my childhood and the conversations surrounding my story were as fluid and normal as they could have been.

Growing up information about our story was never withheld from me or my brother. My parents felt that our adoption story was our story and not theirs, therefore we deserved to know everything. Of course my parents shared age appropriate details and then filled us in later on some of the harder things, but if we asked specific questions we got the specific answers.

Something that is so important to me as an adoptee is how sacred my parents held my story.

My past was not something the whole world needed to know and they kept that set apart for us, to the point where even our adoptive siblings to this day do not know as much as we do. It’s always been our choice to share information with people – not theirs. My parents have also done a beautiful and grace filled job of keeping a neutral attitude about our birth family. Our birth family is broken and it would be very easy for my adoptive parents to share their ideas or thoughts about them with us, but they don’t and that’s huge for me. My parents always let us decide how we were going to feel towards my biological family and they let us decide how much we wanted or did not want to know about them.

My feelings and opinions towards my birth mother changed a lot through the years, sometimes I was angry with her, and sometimes I was obsessed. But my mom let me guide this narrative; I was allowed to feel what I felt. My mom never let feelings of being replaced or threatened overshadow my very complex feelings of having an adoptive mother and a birth mother. I think the fact that my mom let us feel all the feels and never tried to influence or change what we were experiencing towards our birth family was a very important and very hard task, but she did it well. I understand that it can be hard to watch your child go through pain as they process their identity, but I’m thankful for my parents and their grace filled attitude towards the broken people that are my birth family. I know my parents see them as individuals who were failed by the foster care system. My mom once said about my birth mom, “I don’t count her as inadequate (in reference to being our parent) I count her unsupported.”.

One thing I do wish my parents had given us was more of our heritage and Mexican culture.

I wish that growing up my parents had had more ethnic mirrors, books, movies, foods and so on that reflected our culture. To be fair though, in the time we were growing up there were not many resources nor were agencies encouraging adoptive parents to do that. I mean, Disney came out with COCO when I was in college. But, still I am sad to have lost that aspect of my life. I am working to regain it and my parents have already apologized for not cultivating that aspect of our heritage., but if you’re reading this and caring for adoptive or foster children, I want to encourage you to bring their first culture into your home!

So, if you’re reading this and are caring for an adoptive or foster child I want to encourage you to let your children feel what they are going to feel regarding their biological family and try to incorporate their first culture into your lives. Don’t let fear get in the way of helping your child process their past and becoming who they were made to be!

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