The depiction we often see in the media of people who were adopted is that they feel unwanted or unloved by their birth parents — particularly their mothers. Plenty of movies and TV shows that feature adopted kids looking for their birth parents actually end with the kid who feels unloved through the whole movie or episode finally finding their birth parent(s) — or realising that they had died — and learning that they loved them the whole time (think Annie or even Stuart Little.)
But while that feeling of being unwanted may be true for some who are adopted, it's not the only story.
Dana Mason Womer shared her adoption story with the Love What Matters Facebook page on Thursday, saying that she's thankful to the birth mother she's never met for making sure she ended up in a loving home.
"I am adopted. This is a phrase I have said hundreds of times in my life. When I’m at a new doctor and they want my family history: I am adopted. When my kid’s doctor wants a family history on his maternal side: I don’t know. I’m adopted. When someone comments on how I look nothing like my little sister: It’s because I’m adopted," she wrote.
"These simple words have opened up so many different conversations and connections and pathways for me. There has never been a time in my life when I didn’t know I was adopted, that I was chosen."
Her story is simple, she wrote. She doesn't know much about who her birth parents are, but she knows that her mother was 21 when she got pregnant and that she wasn't ready to have a baby.
"She was generous and gracious enough to send me into the arms of a couple that had been waiting years for me," Womer wrote. "My mom and dad had struggled with infertility and after a casual conversation about adoption with her OBGYN, the wheels of our collective fate began to turn."
Womer says that her entire life is a love letter to her birth mom and to her adoptive parents.
"I try to live each day with intention, to be kind to others, to smile, to be open to new opportunities. I am very aware that my life was a gift given to me by these three people and I do not intend to waste it," she wrote.
Unlike many of the characters in the adoption stories we see on TV, Womer pointed out that she had "a lovely childhood." Women were respected in her home, and she was encouraged to play sports and to take up musical instruments. Her family ate dinner together most nights, went to the movies together, and celebrated the holidays.
Despite the angsty teenage years most people have, Womer said that she grew up in a home where she knew she was loved.
Still, she thinks about her birth mom, and what she would say to her if they ever met.
"To my birth mother: I don’t think that we will ever meet, but I already know you. I have your blood running through my veins, your curly hair, your laugh. I have your messiness (hello, nature vs. nurture) and your feisty attitude. But I also like to think I inherited a 'kind and generous' gene from you. After growing my babies inside of me and watching them come into the world two times over, I now understand the weight of what you did for me–choosing to keep me safe those long nine months, every scream you let out and every aching pain you felt while bringing me into the world, bearing the burden of giving your child a future by giving her away–for all that and more I thank you. I love you and I thank you."
She also has a love letter of sorts to her adoptive parents, one to which many people — whether or not they are adopted — can likely relate.
"And to my mom and dad: At Christmas you always say you don’t want any gifts, that you have everything you need. Well, this is my gift to you. Thank you for choosing me, for waiting and for keeping your hearts open and for saying yes when that call came. Thank you for renting a VCR every weekend and watching Annie with me over and over until your ears bled. Thank you for encouraging me to spend time outside–for letting me run loose in the the woods by our house, and for the bonfires and park time.
Thank you for making sure I had a lasting relationship with both sets of my grandparents and all of my aunts and uncles and cousins. Thank you for giving me a sister, a best friend for life.
Thank you for sending me to Camp Olson every summer– it changed the trajectory of my life. Thank you for sending me to college, for paying for my early cell phone bills, for helping me move to a new apartment ten times in nine years. Thank you for giving me my sense of humor and for teaching me that with freedom, comes responsibility. Thank you for instilling a deep love for the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Beatles and and Richie Valens and Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper.
You taught me to stop and admire my work after a long day of mowing the lawn.
You accepted my husband and (not surprisingly) turned into some of the best grandparents the world has ever seen. Thank you for being the role models I base my parenting on and for supporting my family’s decision to move across the country, and for answering every phone call, every text, every FaceTime. Thank you for always knowing when I need you. Thank you for keeping me safe for thirty-five years and counting.
I am adopted. And I am so very lucky."