(WBTV) - Family…
This is probably the best example of the one human condition we all have in common. Our insatiable desire, our longing, our yearning to be a part of something.
To be part of a family.
It saddens me to think about the countless children in our community, our state, and beyond who have no idea what I'm talking about. They have no concept of what it's like to be part of a permanent, loving, safe, forever family.
I can't imagine what it must be like to be a six-year-old child, or eight… pick your age… wondering if they will ever be worthy enough to be called someone's son or daughter… or if they will ever be worthy enough to be called someone's brother or sister. I can't comprehend being a child and having those thoughts. It's such a travesty.
The irony here though is I have very little in common with the children in our community waiting to be adopted. I was adopted as an infant, through a family connection. I never had to endure the foster care system. And I certainly never had those thoughts I just described.
But I hope my story will offer some comfort, perhaps even some motivation or incentive for those considering adoption, or maybe you know someone thinking about it.
So I'll start from the beginning.
I was born in 1960. My birth mother was 18 years old, a sophomore in college, pregnant and out of wedlock. Now I don't know how many of you remember 1960, but it was a whole different era then… a different society, a different culture with different values.
My birth mother was in a tough spot and she had some tough choices to make. If she decided to carry me to term, she would have to face the consequences of that decision… the embarrassment, the humiliation and shame that would come along with it.
She could have taken the other way out and terminated the pregnancy, but lucky for me, she decided to finish what she started.
But there were additional consequences with that decision… the physical hardship of being pregnant for nine months… the physical trauma of child birth… and piled on top of that, the emotional trauma of giving birth to your baby, only to have a nurse show up… and take your baby away.
And yet, she put herself through all of that for me… someone she would never meet, never get to know, never share a single memory, except her loss.
I try to give my mom – adoptive mom for clarity – credit for what she did, but she won't have any of it. I tried to thank her once; I said, "Mom, thank you for taking a chance on me". She snapped right around and said, "Eric I didn't take a chance on you any more than I did having my own baby. You never know what you're going to get."
That struck me.
Perhaps hers is an important message for people considering adopting. At least according to my mom, your risk is no higher adopting a child than natural child birth.
My mom decided to tell me when I was in third grade that I was adopted. Smart move, I was a preteen, and not hormonal yet looking for an excuse to be mad at the world. I was in the basement playing with my hot wheels when she called me up to the kitchen.
When I arrived, she asked me if I knew I was adopted. I told her I did not. Then I hesitated, and finally asked her, 'what's adopted?'. She said, "it just means you weren't born from me, from my belly." I pondered that for a moment, then remembered I had important things to do, and asked her if I could go back and play with my hot wheels.
That was it! No problem. But this brings up an important point because I think this is the moment that most concerns people considering adopting.
Should I tell my child they're adopted? Maybe I'll keep it a secret. What if I tell my child this at the wrong time? Will they be angry? Upset? Will they rebel? Will they develop psychological issues? Confusion? Well, I can't guarantee none of that will ever happen, but that's why I'm here today to offer my own personal experience and how I reacted.
As I got older and a bit more sophisticated, I was able to process what happened and indeed I had a strong reaction. I was overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed with gratitude, and joy, and love for the people who made such difficult choices and grueling sacrifices on my behalf.
And because of that, I want you to know, there is no void in my life!
When people learn I was adopted, almost universally the first question they ask me is, did you ever try to find your real mom? I don't bicker with their terminology, but the answer is 'no'. I have never tried to find my birth mother.
And that is no disrespect toward her. I believe my birth mother made the tough choices and the sacrifices she made to put me on this path, and give me the opportunities I've been given. The best way I can honor my birth mother is to embrace this path, to go forward, and try and fulfill whatever mission she – and the God she prays to – had for me.
My friends, there is no void in my life!
So for those of you who are thinking about adopting, or if you know someone who is thinking about it, look at me one more time.
THERE IS NO VOID IN MY LIFE!
- Meteorologist Eric Thomas