It's my senior year of high school and I'm hurrying home from my lunch hour to try and get some one-on-one time with my newborn baby sister. Often, I wasn't the only one there to see her. Her birth mom, Heather, would come and visit on occasion too.
Sophie is my now four-year-old sister who was adopted and Heather is Sophie's birth mom. Why in the world would my adopted sister's birth mom be coming over? Well, she’s kind of part of our family and she has been since she decided to place Sophie with our family when Sophie is born four years ago.
It’s called an open adoption. An open adoption? Does that mean you contact with a birth mom and she can come over and see the child she placed for adoption? Yeah-that is almost exactly what it means. And just to clarify, it's not, “Heather, Sophie’s birth mom,” she's just, “Heather,” and she's become a part of our family.
Sophie knows her as “Heather” and knows that she came from Heather's tummy so she could be part of our family now. Sophie is four and doesn't like the idea of coming from anyone's tummy to be with any family but maybe one day we'll get it right.
I remember when my parents tried to explain to my 80-year-old grandparents about this open adoption and they were full of fear. Open adoption was something new they had never heard of. I felt a bit of the same fear when I was 17 and my parents told me and my three younger siblings they decided to adopt.
Their voices were filled with a mix of anxiety, fear, and excitement. Those same feelings flooded me as I realize I was a senior in high school who would now have a baby sister. People already stared at my stereotypical, large Mormon family, but now we gave them one more reason to stare.
After Sophie was born, my mom hesitated to let me be seen in public with both her and Sophie. She was afraid it would look like I was a teen mom and she was trying to help support me and my baby- which was obviously not the case but it wasn't that obvious the other people.
I won't ever forget when my mom posted the typical, “look at my daughter going to homecoming” picture on social media and one of the girls from my high school-- who knew I had a recently adopted baby sister --decided it might be funny to comment, “aw cute, teen mom.” The picture was quickly taken down. It wasn't’ the first or last time people would attempt to be humorous with that comment, but I found that I love this new sister more than I care about what others thought and I just did my best to brush off their rude comments.
Having a sister that 17 years younger than me has rocked my world, and my family's world. But looking back to my parents first made the announcement to us, we should have thrown a party. Sophie has brought so much joy to our family and having Heather involved in her life and our lives only means there's more love to go around. Now I know this is not your typical adoption story but this is Sophie’s story and my family story and it's a big part of my story too.