Last month my youngest had a friend visit from South Carolina. Caryn met Katie over three years ago when she was a guest at a Colorado dude ranch, where Katie was a wrangler. They connected because there were few 20-somethings at the ranch, and they both happened to be adopted.
Katie’s story is a typical closed adoption story. She was 19 when her birthmother contacted her. She enjoys dinners with her birth family, except it’s awkward that her birth great-grandfather has not been told who she is. She wonders if he knows anyway, because she looks like her birthmother.
Unlike Katie, Caryn has been a part of her birthmother’s family from day one. Her birthmother selected us based on an album and letters we provided explaining who we were and our desire to add to our family. Caryn’s adoption was among the first truly open adoptions in the state.
The difference between these two stories is striking because of the misconceptions that surround both of them. People often think an adopted child wants to find the birth parents. Katie knew she was adopted and was content not searching, and happy being an only child raised by loving parents.
Caryn, on the other hand, has always participated in holidays and special events with her birthmother’s family, including being a bridesmaid (at age 10) at her birthmother’s wedding. She considers her birthmother’s husband a stepfather of sorts—he gives advice (which she often ignores), and their entire family is part of our extended family.
Caryn was at that dude ranch celebrating her birth grandmother’s birthday with all the children and cousins. Caryn and Katie became friends that weekend. Two adoptees who are happy with the families that raised them, but who don’t mind sharing with the families that gave them up.