Thankful for the adoption option
* The following column first appeared in the Dec. 16, 2001 edition The Davis Enterprise. It has been updated and rerun in honor of National Adoption Month and Thanksgiving.
Mine is an amazing life.
No, I haven’t sipped tea with the queen or matched wits with a rocket scientist. But what I have been blessed with during my 40-plus years on this planet is spontaneous road trips, great friends, loving parents and two birthdays.
Yeah, you read that right, two — count them one, two — birthdays. I told you my life was amazing.
My first birth was the traditional kind. On Jan. 5, I was born to a young lady who decided my life was special but one she would not be able to handle.
I know nothing of her, have no memory of her and yet have an incredible amount of respect for her.
Two-and-a-half months later I was born again into the family of Jerry and Nickie Orendor. The young Southern California couple was looking for the perfect addition to their family, and I, of course, was perfect.
After living in a foster home with no true family or name, my adoption was finalized March 15. I now had a family and a name, and life has been an adventure ever since.
Most people are surprised to learn I’m adopted. Not because it’s an odd thing, but because I look so much like my dad that it was never a thought in most people’s minds. And we’re not just talking kind of look like, but I mean I really look like him. (After a recent vacation, I looked at a picture and said, “Hey, Dad look at this goofy picture of you.” Then I did a double take as I realized it was me. Scary.)
Aside from looking like I belong, I know I do.
This is of utmost importance for me because I know several other adopted people who don’t feel as if they belong anywhere. I think there are several things my parents did that helped me fit right in.
First, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know I was adopted. It has always been a part of me, just like having blue eyes.
When I was a baby, my parents would hold me close and whisper to me, “You know what? You’re special. You’re our special adopted gift. You don’t know what that means now, but it means we love you. Out of all the other kids, we picked you. You are such a special part of our lives.”
Pretty hard not to grow up feeling loved with words like that ringing in your ears.
As I did get older, the explanation of adoption became more detailed. I learned that my parents were unable to have children of their own but wanted desperately to have one. In addition, I was told that some people who don’t want or can’t handle children of their own decide to give them to people who do want them. Made sense to me.
Since mine was a closed adoption, my parents knew only basic things about my biologics. The main point of which was they were healthy and came from healthy families. (It was good to know I wasn’t all of a sudden going to sprout a third arm.)
Aside from a brief moment in high school, I have never entertained finding my biological parents. I currently have the best two on the planet, so why mess with a good thing.
However, I have had adopted friends look for and find their biological parents. In the majority of the cases it was because they had questions their own parents couldn’t answer, not because they didn’t feel loved.
One friend didn’t look at all like anyone in her family. She was a woman of average height, small-boned, blonde, blue-eyed living in a sea of tall, big-boned, dark haired, hazel-eyed people. She was also very outgoing and athletic, while her family was more of the couch potato variety.
After years of red tape, forms and files, she was reunited with her biological mother. She told me when the lady opened the door she was looking at a carbon copy of herself.
However, she still considered her adoptive mom as her mom.
Which is just like me, my parents are my parents. The fact that we share no genetic markers means very little because we share what really counts: love.
I told you I have an amazing life.
— Kim Orendor is the former associate editor for The Davis Enterprise. She would like to thank her parents for all their love and encouragement and encourage others to seriously think about adopting an amazing child of their own. Follow her on Twitter at @KOrendor