I was born on June 29, 1982. My birth mom was 22 years old and had a “good head on her shoulders,” which is why they tried to convince her to keep me. They asked her if she had considered all the possible resources available, and when that didn’t work, the nurse who was the first to hold me (because it was too hard for my birth mom to), offered my birth mom $10,000 to adopt me. She had taken me under her wing and gotten fairly attached, even unofficially naming me Sarah.
Thankfully birth mother said no, as her sole stipulation for whomever was to take me home were that they were married and wanted children. She had seen the effects of an unstable home on her own life and wanted to avoid that happening to me. This is also why she hid her pregnancy and my birth from her family and my birthfather. She knew many, if not all of them would pressure her to keep me, but she was neither married nor ready to start a family.
My parents on the other hand wanted to have a couple biological kids and then adopt a couple kids. When they had one and were unable to have another, the plan skipped ahead to adoption. Their friend Becky was a social worker, and she agreed to help them adopt. Expecting a process that would require much patience and paperwork, they were also warned not to expect their ideal blond-haired, blue-eyed, baby girl.
It was a Friday afternoon and my dad was late coming home as he had stopped to get the car washed prior to their camping trip. My mom and sister, only four years-old at the time, were eagerly waiting to go camping for the weekend. Meanwhile, Becky was at the hospital where I was born on another case, and heard about a newborn that needed placement. Immediately she volunteered my parents, and called my mom to tell her that I was waiting for a home. My mom grabbed a grocery receipt full of camping supplies and jotted down the information, immediately agreeing to take me, a blond-haired, blue-eyed, four day-old baby girl. When my dad got home, the camping trip was cancelled, my sister never forgave me, and the rest is history.
How did my birth mom know the nurse wasn’t meant to be my mother? How did Becky know my parents would take me? How did my mom know my dad would agree? They didn’t. They couldn’t. In my mind the odds were against me, but, as I’ve always said, I’m not lucky, I’m blessed. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that God orchestrated the whole thing, and has always planned for me to be in the Butler family. I never felt rejected; instead, I have always felt chosen and special. I never even knew about the nurse or her bribe until I was 25. Therefore, the only thing I have wanted to say to my birth mom when I would one day meet her was thank you. Being adopted felt special, unique, like being a lefty. I was sure I was a product of the nurturing I’d been raised with and not the least bit confused about where I came from or who I was.
I sincerely doubted for most of my life that I would ever get the chance to meet my birth mom. Then, one day, I pulled out my baby book after several years, and peeked through the whited-out parts of the closed adoption paperwork. It said that my birth mother had attended Spring Lake High School in Michigan. Out of curiosity to see whom I looked like, I called the local library long-distance from Oregon and asked if they had the yearbooks from the years she might have attended. They did. Would the librarian look for someone’s name? Yes, she would. Would she send me a copy? Absolutely, she would scan and e-mail them! I was blown away by the prospect of seeing the face of an actual blood-relative for the first time, after thinking for so long that I never would.
When the e-mailed image came through there was no doubt this was the woman who bravely chose to give me a life better than the one she could at the time. I wondered what she was up to now and the mystery of it all intrigued me more than I’d allowed myself to feel in a long time. I began Google’ing names and soon found an e-mail address for someone who was possibly my birth aunt. I knew it was a long shot, but eventually she wrote me back and revealed that yes, her sister was my birth mom. She said they had given up on ever hearing from me since it had been so long, and they were very curious to meet me. She got me in contact with my half-brother, a cousin, and eventually my birth mother, Michelle.
The night Michele called there was a lunar eclipse. She was looking at it from Michigan and I from Oregon. It was so surreal. My half-brother and cousin had warned me about her, and they were right – I found out where I got the “gift of gab!”
For me, being adopted is in all miraculous, strange, remorseful, beautiful, a blessing and a tragedy. I’m certainly glad that I was placed, but I am also very grateful that I had the opportunity to meet many in my birth family, thank my birth mom, and hear all of their stories. Even though I know I was meant to be a part of my adopted, my real family, and am eternally grateful for them, there is still a bitter sweetness when I ponder what might have been…!
Ali is a mother of three gorgeous girls, including a fairly new set of twins. She lives in Hillsboro, Oregon, and is happily married to her husband of almost 12 years. Ali plans to return to her illustrious elementary school teaching career someday, but in the meantime she cherishes her busy life as a stay-at-home-mom.
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