My name is Kayla, I’m eighteen and when I was 25 days old I was adopted. My new family is unique in that I went into a home to find an older brother two years my senior, also adopted, and a mother who had been adopted too.
This is a story about all our experience of adoption, taken from the point of view of the amazing potential it can have on a family.
As far as I know, I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t adopted. My mum used to tell me that her “Tummy was broken” and that I came from other parents instead. This to me was brilliant, as I had no real comprehension of what this really meant. Things went as they did and it wasn’t till I was older that it began to dawn on me that I was from an unusual family.
We moved from New Zealand to Australia when we were kids and it wasn’t long till my brothers birth mum came for her first visit. I was instantly jealous of my brother because I wanted my birth mum to come to! That’s when I whipped out the classic family line “Can you be my birth mother to?”
My adoptive parents divorced when I was five years old and this had a lot of impact upon my brother and less on me. On our return to New Zealand was when I first met my birth dad and birth mum.
I remember the gifts my birth dad gave me more than the actual reunion. He was skilled at crafting leather and I still have and use the small purple bag he gave me.
I remember my birth mum more. She came to visit with her son, my only related sibling who is my half brother and her father, my grandfather. The visit was not unusual to me. My mum was so welcoming, she says now she had no fear or felt no threat from my birth parents. My birth mum and been so sure at the time of the adoption that it was the right thing to do. My adoptive mother had been through the experience of finding out at eighteen she was adopted and did not want my brother and I to go through a similar experience. She met her five sibling and birth mum soon after she found out she was adopted, yet was sadly to late to meet her birth father. She still has a lot of contact with her birth mum and we’ve gone up to stay with them often. We grew up with a lot of contact with our birth family.
The side that stays with me the most is my brother’s mother’s side. I acknowledge them for their openness and absolute kindness they had towards my brother and I. We are part of their family as if we are all blood related. We started by visiting them often for events like Christmas and Easter. His grandparents would take us for day trips and when my brother’s birth mum was back from Europe she would take us both out to. There was no special treatment towards my brother because he was the only technical relation. In fact I still remember the times that his birth mum would spend the day just me and her. We would travel around and go shopping for presents for the family. On holiday’s when we went away with the family I would spend time with her at her work and when strangers asked how we were related we would both grin and she’d say “Oh she’s my niece”. The entire story was often far too complicated to explain.
When my brother’s auntie was married I was a bridesmaid for the wedding. This was when I was around eight years old. Last February was my brother’s birth mum’s wedding. She held the ceremony in New Zealand and sadly my brother could not attend. I was once again bridesmaid mum and had the honor of carrying my brother half sister down the aisle. Not only that we held a ceremony and they made me “Fairy Godmother” of which I signed a contract to always look after my brothers little sister and keep her best interests at heart.
On our return to New Zealand, my adoptive dad had remarried and had another daughter and son. These two kids are his only children that are related to him and my favorite quote of his “As a parent who’s experienced both I can say the love for either an adopted child and a biological child is one and the same.”
The contact with my birth family is minimal compared to my brother’s side. I recently visited my birth mum and my half brother and plan on doing so more often as they are both people who I would love to have in my life. My grandma on my dad’s side keeps in contact very often and she is in my life a lot. She is one of the most generous people I know and has always been there for our family. Overall there have been no hard feeling towards us from families and no one has felt uncomfortable with the circumstances.
It was not until I was around sixteen that I really clicked on how unusual the situation was in our family. Adoption has brought many unlikely people together from different families and created ties that otherwise would not have formed. I am grateful for my experience and what it has given me towards my view on life, family and relationships. There have been times when my brother and I were bullied for not being related. However, these moments are greatly outnumbered by the love and support we have received from all our relatives. Our family is a patchwork family and I look forward to the day I can adopt myself.
Response to the story and process.
I started by reflecting on my own experiences. All together the adoption process has been very positive so there wasn’t much to dig up. Writing this story gave me an opportunity to openly talk to my parents about what it was like for them. My mum went into great detail about what it was like on the day when my brother and I were adopted, whilst my dad mainly talked about parenting and the difference between having children that are and aren’t biologically related to you. Writing the story itself and trying to keep my own voice whilst bring it across formally was a nice technique of writing.