Written by Hannah McFetridge
My name is Hannah McFetridge and I was adopted from South Korea when I was 5 months old. My parents did a few things that helped me to feel loved and celebrated in my adoption and I think other adoptive parents out there might be interested in what they did.
First, I have never not known I am adopted, though that may be large in part due to my Irish-Italian family, but my adoption was never a secret. My mom tells a story about the first time I asked where I came from: my older brother asked first, and she told him he grew in her belly. When I asked if that was the same for me, she told me no, but that I was born in her heart. I also grew up knowing I had an older, biological, half-sister a short distance away and our families got together a few times a year.
My family was always very open and honest about adoption and the fact that I had another family. We grew up calling my biological mom my Tummy Mummy, and my parents always reminded me to think of her often. My mom always talked about how my Tummy Mummy made a sacrifice, a brave decision, and that she had done this twice, for me and my older sister. My mom said she had a choice, and to be blunt, she didn’t have to carry two children to term but she did, and in that, she chose us each time.
My parents also never hid anything from me. They talked about my biological family as an extension of ours, just halfway across the world. At momentous occasions, like birthdays and graduations, they would always remind me how proud my Tummy Mummy would be of me and they never spoke poorly of her. My parents also never discouraged me from finding my Tummy Mummy or biological family. It had always been part of my plan, and they offered every bit of support and encouragement.
There are a lot of things I wish people would understand about adoption. First being that every adoption is different. Personally, I don’t want to be pitied, and I don’t like that people call me lucky to have been adopted. Yes, I am lucky to have an incredible family, but so was my brother who was biologically born into our family. Frequently, outsiders see adoption as a “savior” action, where the family is “saving the baby” from some miserable alternative. And while in many instances that might be true, it diminishes the beauty of adoption and more so, the choice of placing a child for adoption. Adoption isn’t all sad, it can be exciting, and should be treated similarly to a child being born! Second, people need to stop seeing adoption as a second choice. Adoption isn’t something you do reluctantly just because someone might not be able to have biological children.
Adoption is just a different path to building a family, but it doesn’t make adoptees any less your child, it doesn’t make parents any less of a mom or dad!