Today I am sharing something that I’ve never really talked about, except with a few of my closest friends. I figured that on my 26th birthday, it was time to say it out loud. 

        Adoption is a common subject in my life right now. There are a lot of people that I know and love from different walks of life that are talking adoption. Some are praying about it, some are waiting for their child, some are fostering to adopt, and some have already gone through the adoption process.

        My parents adopted me when I was just a year old, and I cannot imagine my life without them. Today marks the 25th anniversary of my arrival in the states from Paraguay. I’ve seen pictures from that day, and all of the people who are now my awesome family were there to greet me. From the beginning, they have always loved me as their equal.

        This wasn’t the case for everyone I met, though. Growing up, people would say “oh, you must look like your other parent.” It was always awkward for me, because I never knew how to respond to them since I don’t look like either one of my parents. Mostly, I remember this kid in 5th grade who knew I was adopted. He told me that I wasn’t wanted by my real parents. Especially at that age, that was the worst thing I had ever heard. That one comment made me want to never talk about how I was adopted ever again. When people that I know make jokes about how one of their siblings MUST be adopted because they did something stupid, it makes me feel really awkward and embarrassed; it feels like the most awful joke. How would I ever explain to someone that someone didn’t want me?

        As I got older, I realized that the real problem is that the 5th grade boy was just a bully with more ignorance of a child. He had made such an impression on me, that I was living like being adopted was a bad thing. I was given the best gift anyone could ever receive, one that children in orphanages all over the world dream of: a genuinely loving family. Without my parents choosing me, I would not be here in my kitchen writing this story. I wouldn’t have some of the best friends anyone could ever have, or have grown up in a Christian home, or be married to the best man in the whole world. I wouldn’t have the princess childhood I was blessed with, and I wouldn’t have the most wonderful little sister ever.

   I have a younger sister, Carmen, who is adopted from Mexico. I know that God had it in His great plan to give me a little sister that, although not related, looks a lot like me. He planned that during all of the years I spent crying to my parents because all of my cousins had siblings and all I wanted was a little sister. We haven’t always gotten along, but we have become very close as we have grown up. 

        I’ve learned over the past few years that family are those people in the closest circles of your life that genuinely love each other. Family isn't defined by blood alone. Just like marriage, adoption welcomes a new family member with open arms regardless of blood relation. In fact, even outside of legal processes like marriage and adoption, families can grow. We recently met new friends that moved to the area for careers, and of course we brought them to meet everyone in our family. It’s a big “come one, come all” family, and it has been that way my entire life. That’s how I want to be for the rest of my life - following the example set by my parents with their unconditional love for and acceptance of me and my sister. 

        Although we are not ready for children yet, David and I know that one day soon we will be. My biggest fear is to not be able to carry my own child. My heart breaks when I hear of someone who can’t conceive or has suffered a miscarriage. It’s in these times that it is hardest to remember that God has a plan for our lives, and that if a biological child is made impossible then maybe our child is waiting for us already.

        In the past when people asked me if David and I would want to adopt, I was always quick to say no. But now I say that if you or anyone else you know is thinking about adoption, encourage them. It changed the whole trajectory of my life, and I couldn’t be more thankful for it.