I’m often told I should write a story about my life and while I feel it’s been a pretty normal adventure, there are not many people who can say “I am adopted and I adopted, too.” My mom adopted me at birth and always told me the story of my adoption from when I was young. To this day, I can’t imagine my life any differently. I was given a great home and family and who knows what my life would have turned out like if it had been any different.
Fast forward to my life as adult, my husband and I got married when I was 30. We immediately tried for a child but knew it would be hard because I had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoblastic Leukemia when I was 20 and the chemo aged the inside of my body. For three years we poured our lives into infertility doctors, IVF and emptying our savings account. After our third and final failed IVF treatment, my friend contacted me about her sister who was pregnant and had thought of putting the baby up for adoption. Within the week, we made the decision to adopt her child, went to her ultrasound to find out the sex of the baby and met with an attorney to start the process. It was a whirlwind of emotions and blessings that we had continually prayed about happening so fast. Our son Fisher was born three months later.
If you’re interested in adoption, here are three things that I often tell other parents who are looking into it.
- Work with an adoption attorney.
Because our adoption was private, we had to get an attorney to represent us. And while our adoption was best-case-scenario, our attorney guided us through the entire process. Having an attorney who is educated on adoption matters was vital in ensuring paperwork was completed correctly, working directly with birth mom’s attorney and setting up a plan with the hospital for when our son was born. There are some great adoption attorneys in and around the metro and a basic Google search will help you navigate that.
- Be prepared to educate your friends, family and strangers.
Yes, he’s our son. Yes, he will know he is adopted. Yes, he will know his story. Yes, he has met his birth mother. All too often we’re inundated with questions and sometimes they’re filtered and sometimes they’re not. When Fisher was three days old, we found out that we were pregnant. Often, we get the inevitable question, “Are they twins?” And far too often we hear “Which one is yours?” Many people don’t know how to ask the right questions and navigating adoption is hard for them. Best advice is to educate them on adoption if and when you feel comfortable.
- DNA doesn’t change how you love.
When we found out that we were pregnant, we had no idea how we’d do two babies at once. Of course, it was shocking, but in all honesty, you don’t feel any differently about an adopted child than one you carried. My mom and I look a lot alike, so many of my baby pictures resemble my adopted child. Regardless of the DNA, there’s nothing that stops your love for that child as if you had carried him in your womb for nine months – absolutely nothing. I was that person – the one who wanted to carry my own child before adopting and regardless if we would have gotten pregnant or not in this adventure, our adopted child was meant to be ours. We love him more than life itself and just because we don’t share the same DNA doesn’t change our love. I love how he and I can share the story of being adopted, too. I, too, tell him “I pick you” at night before bed like my mom did to me when I was young; but you know what, I tell my biological child the same.
If you have considered adoption, keep considering. We made the decision very early on to tell family and friends that we were trying to get pregnant and we also included them when it consistently didn’t work for us. If we hadn’t, we may have never been contacted about a possible adoption. Be open to adoption. And while our adventure has been just that, adoption has been an incredible blessing to both me and my family.
Tabbi Burwell is executive director the Craft Brewers Association of Oklahoma. Tabbi and her husband Casey reside in their hometown of Jones, and Tabbi serves as vice president on the PTO for
her children’s school, on the board of the Public Relations Society of America Oklahoma City Chapter, is a graduate of Leadership OKC Class 38 and was named an Achiever Under 40 by the Journal Record. In her free time, Tabbi has a successful part-time side-hustle selling vintage items on Etsy and Poshmark.