By Julia Wall, Intern
The funny thing about adoption is that no story is ever “typical.” Although love is always interwoven throughout an adoption journey, details are unique to every family who has grown through adoption. My journey, like so many others, is one-of-a-kind, full of love, and something I’m proud to share.
I grew up in a blended family. My biological father left my mom and me when I was barely a year old. A few years later, however, God providentially brought another man into my mom’s life who truly loved and cared for us. He proposed to my mom on my fifth birthday and they were married months later.
Although I still had limited contact with my biological father, my stepdad filled the father-figure role that I so desperately needed, in all senses. He taught me how to ride a bike, fish like an expert, appreciate the outdoors, play sports, and love the best music. Most importantly, though, he taught me how to love God, my family, and my country. He not only led through wise words and sage advice, but by example. His godly influence and unconditional love are intangible gifts that will last my lifetime and beyond.
Growing up in a blended home was not always easy. At times, I struggled to feel like I was fully part of my family. I still shared the last name of my biological father, even though my mom took my stepdad’s last name when they were married. Although I was not able to admit it for many years, this imbalance kept me from full contentment with my new family.
My parents and I discussed adoption a few times throughout my childhood, but my parents cautioned me against making a decision rooted in negative emotion.
I harbored bitterness and resentment for many years, mostly aimed at my biological father. One summer, while at a Christian camp, I heard a message that exposed these dark corners of my heart. After seeking counseling, I prayed and asked God to forgive me and to give me strength to heal from bitterness.
Healing certainly did not happen overnight. Day by day, though, as I walk with God and experience his forgiveness toward me, I am able to uproot my own bitterness and actively forgive my biological father.
Once I was sure that my intentions behind adoption were pure, I came to my mom again to discuss the topic. I was no longer approaching adoption out of spite for my biological father, but out of a love for my stepdad, a desire to honor him, and a longing to unify my family.
On January 4, 2017, my mom and I took my stepdad out to dinner for his birthday, where I shared with him a letter officially asking him to be my adopted father. That evening was probably only the second time that I had ever seen my stepdad with tears in his eyes. It was one of the best moments of my life, as of course he said yes!
The next few months were a blur of paperwork, social worker visits, and legal meetings. On April 6, 2017, we headed to the courthouse with our support network in tow: grandparents, friends from school, church members, and teachers all came to encourage my family. I’ll never forget the atmosphere of excitement, anticipation, and love in the courtroom. Before the judge legally confirmed the adoption, my stepdad and I were able to publicly share our love for one another and how God had so graciously worked in our lives to bring us together.
One of the best definitions of adoption is, “to take by choice into a relationship.” It didn’t matter that I was already eighteen when my stepdad adopted me. Adoption at every stage is important. It is an act of selflessness and unconditional love. The beauty of adoption can be seen through a couple adopting an infant from a foreign country, foster parents adopting their three children, or a stepdad adopting his eighteen-year-old stepdaughter.
As we celebrate National Adoption Month, we are reminded to cherish all children, regardless of age. Lives are saved and families are built through the process of adoption. Everyone deserves a chance to experience a life full of love, and I’m thankful adoption gave me that opportunity.