My Personal Story of Adoption
It was a cool spring morning, and two women were both anxiously waiting for a life-changing event. One waiting for the call that would finally tell her that a baby had been born, the other waiting to give birth to the child that she would be forbidden to keep. The first woman, full of hope, at last she looked forward to becoming a mother. The other mother sinking into deep despair knowing that she would soon lose her baby. Strangers, with only one phone call and a promise between them, their lives would become intricately intertwined forever more.
It was 7:52 a.m. on a foggy May morning when Maryellen gave birth. Only 15 years old she had the experience of becoming a mother. “It’s a girl,” she heard the doctor say. Then just that quickly, before she could even hold her baby or count her toes, her baby girl was swept out of the room.
Shrouded in shame and secrecy, “Baby Girl B” was born. In a flash her whole world disrupted, separated from her mother, her provider, her protector, everything that she had known up until that moment. She laid quietly in the hospital bassinet alone without the familiarity of her mother’s scent or the sound of her voice. She waited to see what would happen next. Too well accustomed to the unexpected, Baby Girl B had experienced the harsh realities of hunger and homeless, of random sex for love, of being a mistake. She already knew that survival required taking what you could when it was there to take, but not expecting it to be there again.
Maryellen and her baby girl had been through a lot in their nine months together, each surviving a terrible ordeal. At 14, Maryellen was a little girl who looked more like a woman than a child. Late at night, she would sneak out her bedroom window to get away from the chaos of her abusive, alcoholic home. She and her girlfriends spent time on the ships that were docked in Long Beach. Attractive and maturely built the sailors paid attention making her feel special, wanted and loved. She needed to feel loved, and she found it in the arms of young sailors.
It was soon after her 15th birthday that Maryellen realized that she was pregnant. Fearing her father’s reaction, she ran away from home with an unquestioning girlfriend. First, they disguised their appearance in the bathroom of a dirty gas station. Hair dyed black and a change of clothing, they found two men at the bowling alley who were leaving LA and driving North.
They agreed to take the girls along. But once the men tired of them, they were left in Washington. With no money or shelter, they found work in an apple orchard where they picked bushels of apples for a few cents a day. In the evening they used their earnings to buy a meal; a can of tuna and a bottle of beer and then a tree to sleep beneath.
Months went by before the authorities found Maryellen and her unborn child. Transported back to Los Angeles, she was held at Juvenile Hall. Visibly pregnant by this time, Maryellen’s mother fainted when she laid eyes upon her pregnant daughter. Her father became enraged as he looked at her swollen belly. Fear filled Maryellen as she was taken home and held hostage, confined to her bedroom for the duration of her pregnancy. On occasion she was allowed in the backyard where the clean sheets hung on the close line. There she could talk to the baby that she would not be allowed to keep. Maryellen and her unborn baby spent several months like this and although not an ideal environment, they were together. Baby safe within her womb where she was nurtured and growing within.
My Birth and Delivery
On the eve of my delivery, there was no family in the hospital waiting room to greet me. No one looking forward to my arrival, no one to support and congratulate my new mother. Maryellen’s father had already warned her of what he would do to her if she tried to bring the baby home. Her mother wanted to give the baby to Maryellen’s great aunt and uncle. But at 15, Maryellen’s maternal instincts were strong, and she knew that she would do anything to protect her baby from the abuse that she suffered from that uncle, and so she choose to give her baby to strangers.
Not with her first mother long enough to officially be given a name, she would only be known as “Baby Girl B”. Secretly Maryellen named her baby Marcella. A secret that she would carry alone. For the rest of her baby’s life, her birth certificate and identity were sealed in secrecy and shame.
Across town Dorian, the 23-year-old expectant adoptive mother picked up the phone and heard her attorney say, “The baby’s been born. It’s a girl… but she’s been born with a hole in her heart.” Dorian had been trying to conceive for the five years that she had been married.
She watched all her friends get pregnant and have babies. She desperately wanted to have a baby. Eventually they turned to adoption.
Dorian and Harold decided to take the baby, even with a hole in her heart, knowing that they would do whatever was medically possible to fix the baby’s heart. They did not understand that they could not fix the psychological hole that she carried within her heart, no matter what they did. For that hole was the product of the profound loss that she suffered at birth, from the separation from the mother that created, carried and birthed her. There was no way to make that hole disappear.
Late that night, Maryellen laid in her hospital bed empty womb, empty arms. Alone with no one to comfort her, no one to hold her, she cried and cried and cried. Longing for her baby was worse than any pain she had already known. A kindly nurse befriended her and brought the baby to her. She held her baby’s sweet little body close, kissed her little neck, smelled her sweet baby smell and whispered in her ear. Secret words between mother and baby. A message was sent; she would love her always, they would be together someday.
That night Dorian and Harold lay in their bed anticipating picking up their baby in the morning. They were happy, thrilled but also frightened and apprehensive. Would the teenage girl really give her baby to them? How would they manage the next six months until the adoption was finalized? What if the teenage mother changed her mind and wanted the baby back?
They decided to name the baby Tracy Lynn. It was a name to honor Dorian’s great-grandmother and Harold’s favorite grandmother. Their baby would be the first grandchild and great grandchild in the family. They joyously told the family how they were honoring the name of family members, but Dorian’s grandmother did not approve of the name. She said that that name should be reserved for a child who was born into the family. For the first time, but not the last, they had the experience of being, “only adoptive parents” and feeling the shame of being unable to conceive.
In the morning Dorian, Harold and Dorian’s mother, left for the hospital. In and out as quickly as they could, they felt more like baby snatchers than new parents. Reeling from the experience, Dorian handed the baby to her mother in the back seat of the car as they drove home. After experiencing Dorian’s anxiety, Baby Girl B relaxed in the arms of her new grandmother. A grandmother with whom she would share a deep and cherished relationship for all their years together.
Maryellen spend that night in the hospital alone. Watching other mothers nurse their babies, her breasts hurt for her baby. The following day she was sent home. There was no mention of her baby or the experience that she had just been through.
At 16, unable to tolerate her loss or her home life anymore, she ran away to the streets of Hollywood. Here she found others who shared her history of abuse and neglect. She found friends, sympathetic ears to listen to her story of how her baby was taken. Her new friends were determined to help her find her baby and bring her home. It would take Maryellen almost five more years to find the courage to begin the search for the baby she secretly named Marcella.
At the age of 20, and the insistence of her mother, Maryellen married Ron, a man that she had known for less than a year. Her mother hoped that it would get her daughter off the streets and help her settle down. She did not budge when Maryellen came crying and pleading on her wedding day not to marry.
One night shortly after their marriage, Ron woke to his new wife’s crying. In her pain and despair, she told her new husband of her secret and her longing to reclaim her baby. He did not understand and therefore could not offer support to her. He did only what he knew to do, he forbade and opposed her. This was the beginning of the end of their marriage as Maryellen faced her demons alone. Soon thereafter, she left her husband of less than one year and again took to the familiar streets of Hollywood, where people listened to her sorrow.
Searching and Longing
The search for her baby truly began when she accompanied her mother and grandmother to the family doctor for their annual exams. It had been this doctor who had arranged the baby’s adoption. Knowing that there was information on the identity of the adoptive parents in her medical file, she waited for the right moment. The doctor went into an exam room with a patient, the nurse left the front desk. Maryellen was alone in the office. Hastily she went behind the counter and took out her file. She scanned the pages and there in black and white, were the names of the, “prospective adopting couple.” She memorized their names. A moment later, the nurse came back and started to yell. The doctor emerged and became irate. Her mother and grandmother screamed. The office was ignited with emotion, but Maryellen left with the names imprinted in her mind. Later realizing that she needed more information, her friends from the streets broke into the doctor’s office and took her file. Now she had all the information that she needed; she knew where to go to find her baby.
Five years after her baby was born, Maryellen was doing the very thing that Dorian feared; she had come to take her baby. Sitting in a parked car just outside the cul-de-sac on which they lived, Maryellen watched her daughter play with the children in the neighborhood. To Maryellen, she looked so happy, so well. She had no idea that her child was secretly grieving for her. She didn’t know that the child harbored fears that it could happen again. Somehow, she could lose her new family too.
On some psychic level I must have felt Maryellen’s watching as I began having a reoccurring nightmare that would follow me well into adulthood. In the dream I was playing outside with my friends, and someone approached to take me. In the dream, I was so scared that I would fly to get away from the child snatcher. There high above, I could watch my friends still playing, but I could not see my house. I could not fly down and I could not get back home.
Waking from the nightmare I was always fearful and anxious and wept quietly as I lay in my bed in the dark of the night. This nightmare would occur throughout my childhood and even plague me well into early adulthood.
Maryellen sought help from her grandmother who told her that if she really loved the child, she would not disrupt her life. Just as the social workers had told her at the birth, her grandmother also told her to leave the past behind and get on with her life. And so, she tried once again.
Although Maryellen stopped going to the street where her daughter lived, she continued to grieve and long for her baby.
The Consequences of Profound Loss-How Adoption Has Affected All of Our Lives
Maryellen never did get over the loss. Years of low self-esteem, self-punishment and unhappiness plagued her and infiltrated into her new family. She suffered secondary infertility (infertility not caused by a medical explanation) for the first five years of her marriage from the psychological scarring of her womb. Her emotional reaction to the thought of being pregnant again, prevented her from being able to conceive. She and her husband began adoption proceedings. They were about to have a child placed with them when Maryellen became pregnant. She went on to have two boys and another girl.
The second daughter, Karen Lynn was born in the same month as her first daughter. She looked very much like the first daughter. The birth of another girl and the resemblance between them was far too overwhelming for Maryellen and she painfully avoided handling and caring for her new baby girl. Feeling rejection from her mother throughout her childhood, it was not until I reunited with the family and my siblings learned of my existence that my sister was finally able to make sense of the relationship that she had with her mother. Unfortunately, much of the damage from those years was already too deep to fully heal.
Thoughts & Reflections
Would I have been better off staying with my first mother? Probably not, but the wounds that I suffered as a result of that separation were deep and painful. I now realize that it was not only the separation from my first mother that created my wounds, but it was experiencing them alone. Without the help and understanding of my family, the wound was seared deeply within.
As a clinician, I know that grief that is shared with another human leads to a bonding experience whereas grief that is buried and experienced alone leads to a sense of isolation and being alone in the world. I also know that it is far healthier for an adopted child to know their first parents, to hear from them directly the circumstances of their adoption, that they were loved and not forgotten.
In my family, we never talked about adoption. I knew that the discussion hurt my mother, so I never brought it up or asked any questions. I feared that if I hurt her, she too might not love me anymore and maybe she too wouldn’t want me anymore. Even though I didn’t talk about what was going on inside of me, I was suffering, and I was doing it alone. Grieving, confused, feeling abandoned, unworthy and unlovable, trashed and left behind, I felt all alone in the world.
As an adult I worked hard to figure out and understand those feelings. I began to understand that what happened to me at birth, being taken from my mother and never having an opportunity to grieve that loss, or understand the loss, had a tremendous impact on my sense of worth, trust and security. Wondering how she could have not wanted me, believing that she moved on and forgot about me furthered my belief that there was something inherently bad about me.
Today, I am able to embrace all of who I am because I have the information to do so. My parents are my parents, and nothing can or will ever change that. My first mother and my half siblings and their children are important connections that allow me to feel whole and complete.
Adoptive Mothers and Their Daughters
Many years ago now, I lost my adoptive mother. She was only 74 years old, young for many people, but unfortunately too many of her years were spent depressed with little self-care. As she became bedridden. I cared for her and was able to keep her at home making her final days rich and comfortable. The last months that we had together helped us heal the wounds of adoption that had been ever present in our relationship. Sadly, she had always been insecure about the fact that another woman gave birth to me. Even though I was a loyal, loving and devoted daughter, she remained hopelessly angry, jealous and worried about my connection to another mother. My adoptive status created secrecy and shame that adversely impacted our relationship.
The last months of her life offered us a turning point. I had the opportunity to tell my mother, and she could hear and take in, what she meant to me, how much I loved her, my family and my life. I had the opportunity to share with her how important she was to me and how I became the woman that I am by being raised by her and my father. Taking this in brought great comfort and peace to her and to us. My mother’s passing brought us closer together. It allowed me to put down the wall that I had erected to protect myself. It allowed her to put down the sword that she used when she felt threatened. It also brought new understanding of the importance we had in one another’s lives. Days after her passing I looked in the mirror and for the first time I saw my mother in me. It wasn’t in my features or the color of my eyes, but it was there. My mother was there in my essence as a woman. I loved being able to see her in me. I loved feeling the connection between us.
I found the experience of caring for and losing my mother incredibly full of emotion. I was losing a mother again. A huge transformational experience occurred, and I was left once again forever changed. Even though I was losing my mother, I was able to have her in a whole new way. I felt resolved with the issues that I struggled against with for so many years. I emerged from the experience feeling complete and at peace. I am grateful for this. Even though it had been many years since my mother had taken care of me and many more that I took care of her, I miss her love and care for me. I think that I will grieve her for a very long time and probably differently though the years as life brings me events that I want to share with her. It is an adulation of just how much she meant to me.
Losing My Birthmother for the Second Time
My birthmother passed away two years ago. We shared an intimate, loving mother-daughter relationship for almost 33 years. We always acknowledged our reunion anniversary date and we she spent every birthday with me. During those years, we continued to heal from our wounds. There were times when we would break down with the weight of our sorrow and weep and hold one another. Healing from such a devastating loss took time.
In those 33 years she was an integral part of my life. We had a wonderful reunion and beautiful relationship. She was my first mom, the person who gave birth to me and to whom I belonged. She was my friend, my first love object and my first loss. Several times a year, she would come to California for weeks long visits at my house. She had her own room, the closet filled with her clothes, her sewing machine, her craft projects, the bathroom full of her personal things.
Over our 33 years together, I saved the many cards that I got from her, they all said the same thing, “I thank God every day that he brought you back to me.” After her death I had a memorial for her, and I wrote this poem:
Two losses, both deep, years apart,
one so raw and recent, one long ago
Searing wounds, sliced exquisitely into my heart, into my soul leaving me a lost, lonely child once again
I try to hold onto the healing we’ve done in those 33 years. The memories of a shared full life together of true blood bonds, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren
“A blessing” is echoed by those left behind, “ Always a joy to spend time with” I reveled in our similarities
Growing stronger in the knowledge of who I was Never tiring of time spent with
the beautiful, fun-loving soul that you were.
When we reunited, you told me I saved you
and the years of self-punishment and shame began to slip away.
When death lurked you told me
that I was the love of your life.
During our last weeks together
I held you, my arms wrapped around
and you reflected on the time when you were not able to hold me.
I helped bathe you when you were unable
and you reflected on the times that you were not able to bathe or care for me.
You told me that when I was born, how quickly I was taken from you Leaving you a weeping mother
arms empty, breasts full
And of the night that a kind, benevolent nurse brought me to you and You whispered to me secrets shared only between mother and child, the message sent,
I’ll love you always, we’ll be together again.
And at the end of your life, I, daughter, whispering in your ear, sharing secret thoughts only between child and mother.
I miss you already, I’ll love you forever.
Once your arms ached for me, Heartbroken
Envious of the mothers who were holding their babies Now my arms ache for you,
Envious of our life that is now gone.
I will miss our 8AM morning check in phone call
our healing conversations and good cries together as grief lingered in our relationship.
You will live on in my heart, in my children and grandchildren I take pride and joy when I look at your legacy
They are all beautiful human beings and I say in my mind
I’ll love you forever, we will be together again.
Finding My Birthfather
It only took me four months to find my first mother at a time well before the internet and DNA testing. It took me a full 31 years of searching to find my first father. He was 85 years old when I met him. While he did not know that I even existed, he was so happy that I found him and welcomed me as though he had been waiting his whole life for me. Our 3 ½ years together was another transformational event in my life.
A few years before finding him, I was speaking at a Concerned United Birthmother retreat where I was approached by a person who worked at Ancestry. It was a new company. I was excited, a DNA search sounded promising.
During my 30 years search I had found three men who I thought could have been my first father. Each of them were sailors stationed in Long Beach, but none were the right person. For many years my search had gone dormant. I had all but given up hope on finding my birthfather.
Returning from the retreat I bought the DNA kit and tested. The results showed my closest connections were third-fifth cousins which meant that we shared great great grandparents. While it was disappointing, I learned a lot about myself and my heritage. More pieces of the puzzle of who I was. It filled me with a greater sense of completeness, peace, identity and pride.
The following year I was speaking at an American Adoption Congress Conference and was fortunate enough to sit next to a fellow adoptee and genealogist. She offered to help me with the search. She began to work backwards from my distant ancestors through the lineage. A few months into the search, she had the death certificate of a possible paternal grandmother. The death certificate listed her death as occurring in the same city where I had lived for most of my life. I found the cemetery where she and my paternal grandfather were both buried.
At that point I knew that my paternal grandparents had two sons. I also knew that cemeteries always list a next of kin in their files. This next part threw me as the man listed had a different last name. I wondered why a family with two sons would list an unrelated person as next of kin. It took several more weeks of searching to learn that the person listed was in fact her eldest son, my uncle. He had changed his name. I would learn later that both my first father and uncle had shortened and changed their name from a very known Jewish name to a more generic one. Antisemitism still ran rampant in the San Fernando Valley during the years that they were working and trying to establish themselves in business.
Once over that hurdle, I found the phone number of my uncle and made the call. His wife answered and I told her that I was doing a genealogical search of my relatives and that her husband’s name came up as a relative of mine. She quite adamantly told me that he could not possibly be my father because they had been married right out of high school. Then my uncle got on the line. We had a friendly conversation and he told me his brother’s name and the general area that he lived. Both my uncle and his wife told me that they were sure I was on the wrong path because his brother had also married his wife just shortly out of high school.
It one thing to place that initial call to your birthmother, she cannot forget that she had you but it’s another to call a birthfather who may not know of your existence. His wife answered the phone, and I told her that I was looking into my genealogy. I was cautiously trying to tell her that I believed her husband was my first father. So very gingerly I said, in my genealogical search I found a woman named Jennifer who is listed as my niece, and therefore her mother, Robin would be my first cousin and therefore her father, Sy would be my uncle and so ……..
Waiting. No indication that she was understanding what I was alluding to. So, I had to gather my courage and say it again. This time there was an, “oh my” and, “well this is a cliff hanger.”
She asked if she could call me back later. When she did, she asked my age, wanting to know if I was conceived before or after they married. Fortunately for all of us I was conceived a few months prior to their engagement and marriage.
I was elated! I found him. I made contact! I began dancing in the kitchen.
There are so many synchronic events between my paternal first family and my adoptive family.
*When my adoptive mom was a young girl, her family moved from Ohio to California and when my birth father was a young boy, his family moved from New York to California.
*My adoptive mother and first father lived on the same street in Los Angeles during the same years.
*My adoptive father and my paternal first uncle were in the same high school during the same years.
*When married my first father and his wife as well as my adoptive parents all moved to the San Fernando Valley. We lived just miles from one another.
*My adoptive cousins went to the same high school as my birth brothers during the same years and knew some of the same people.
*When I was a young adult out on my own, my paternal birth uncle and his family were living just one city away from me.
*All my adoptive relatives, my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and all my first father’s relatives are buried in the same cemetery.
This synchronicity gives me a sense of familiarity, a shared culture and connectedness that had been previously unknown to me. They were all around me all my life. If only I had known. My first father’s wife told me that if my paternal grandmother had known about my conception, she would have wanted me and would have taken me. I would have had another life.
When I met my first father, he lived about an hour from me and we saw each other a couple of times a month. In between there were daily telephone calls and emails exchanged. With both
of my adoptive parents deceased, I began to call them my new parents. I called my first father’s wife my third, and they began to call me their first.
My first father and I corresponded a lot through email. Each one of those emails is so special and dear to me. “Nancy and I both agree that your presence is like a gift from heaven…” or “thank you for the visit. Love when you smile… you are beautiful inside, and your personality always shines” and “it was so wonderful to see you today. I always enjoy being with you.” Once he wrote that when he hears the song, “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole that he thinks of me, he added in “a fatherly way.” I cherish these lyrics:
Unforgettable That’s what you are Unforgettable Though near or far
Like a song of love that clings to me How the thought of you
Does things to me
Never before has someone been more Unforgettable
In every way And forever more
That’s how you’ll stay That’s why, darling, it’s incredible That someone so unforgettable Thinks that I am unforgettable too
In their kitchen on the counter was a small collection of family photos. My birthfather put my picture up with the rest. One day when I came in, I saw there was a flashlight lying on its side and pointing to my picture. He told me that when he wakes at night and comes into the kitchen, it makes him happy to see my face. Wow! I had a new set of parents who loved me so completely. They became integrated into my life and family as I did to theirs.
Unfortunately, my dad began to display some odd behaviors that I recognized as the onset of Alzheimer’s. He would soon be diagnosed with moderate stage Alzheimer. He resisted any treatment, categorically denied that he had diminished mental capacity. Eventually when we had to take the car keys from him, his protest and behaviors began at times to be unmanageable for my new mom. Sometimes frightened she would leave and sit in her car outside the house, call me and I would come over to talk him down. Always when he answered the door and saw that it was me he would say, “just the person that I wanted to see” and I would sit and listen to him for however long it took for the episode to pass and for him to be calm and loving again.
And then one day in December things changed rapidly and my dad was taken to the hospital, diagnosed with influenza. We expected him to recover and began to look for help for them at home. But within days influenza turned into pneumonia and then quite quickly he lost his fight, and we lost him.
The night when I left the hospital, I played the song, “Unforgettable” over and over again in the car. Unforgettable that’s what you are….. and I continue to play it over and over again at times when I miss him the most.
His memorial service. We had two. One in holding with the Jewish tradition, very simple and relatively brief. This service was at my house. I spoke these words:
Saying goodbye to someone who you have only known for a short time is very hard and yet saying goodbye to someone that you’ve known for a lifetime is hard too. Finding Ron has been one of the greatest joys in my life, a miracle really. Even thought our time together was very short, the impact of knowing and being loved by him has been tremendous. He not only regarding me as his daughter, his flesh and blood, he made me feel precious, worthwhile and important. For me there is no Ron without Nancy because she too took me in as her daughter, as part of her family. She tells me often and generously how important I have been to them all.
Yesterday she said that I have, “completed the circle making the family complete.“ If I have any regrets, it’s just a few, missed years and the opportunity to share with him my son getting married, of being there for the birth of my grandchildren, his great grandchildren. But those regrets don’t outweigh how I will cherish each and every single memory of the 3 ½ years that we had together. Just like he told me: I am unforgettable, and he is unforgettable too.
The second service was more of a celebration of life for the family. My brothers who both live out of state came in. This memorial was held at my new parent’s house in their backyard. All 30 people there were related by blood or marriage. I had not yet met my next oldest brother or two first cousins. It was so easy, and I felt love for them all right away. It was such a beautiful tribute to my Dad as we sat around a large firepit and told stories of the kind of man that he was. I told my unforgettable story, my flashlight story and my story of how he was always so happy to see me whatever the problem or celebration. I said that I probably knew him the least amount of time of anyone else there, but that I got enough to last a lifetime.
There was an incredible story I once read about a 5-year-old Indian boy who got separated from his brother on a train ride late at night. For a long time, he lived on the streets learning to fend for himself. Eventually he ended up in an orphanage and was later adopted by a couple who lived in Australia. Despite being so young when he left his village, the desire to find his family remained strong. As an adult he spent years searching google maps and via landmarks that he remembered, he eventually found his village. Soon he made his way there. The entire village came out to meet him. He had been missing for 30 years but had never been forgotten. That was the feeling I had at my dad’s memorial service. I felt intimately and biologically connected to each person there. I was home. I was in my village.
That was just three months ago. I am very fortunate to continue to have a loving and connected relationship with his wife, my sister and two brothers. I cherish them all. And I still have very close relationships with my first mothers’ family; my sister, niece and great nephews. And I still have loving and close relationships with all the cousins that I grew up with and who are my best friends forever, and I am especially close to the biological family that I created as an adult. For a child who felt so all alone in the world, I am now surrounded by so many people that are related to me in all sorts of ways. I only wish it had been like this when I was much younger.
I am writing this part of my story to say that I finally feel after many years of living, full and complete. I see my worth though both my first father and mother who collectively made me feel that I was not in fact discarded and forgotten, but rather precious, loveable and important to them. Something that my adoptive parents were not able to do although they tried. I needed to hear and feel it from the first parents, the ones that I had been separated from at birth. I wish I could have felt these things as a child. It should not have taken me a lifetime to know that I am unforgettable.
I have come to understand, in a new way, that deep and powerful emotional experiences have the power to “move us” and to change us. I share my personal experiences with you because I believe that as a community of adoption, we are all still learning from one another. My hope is that sharing this inspires you all to work toward this type of resolve, not through loss, but though love, understanding and the deep and sometimes tough emotional experiences inherent in being a family brought together by adoption. I hope that it is beneficial for your personal growth.