The Answer for Samantha

10 11 2010

To learn more about Joint Council’s National Adoption Month Advocacy Campaign-Click Here

In July 1984, I was born to a young single woman who, at the age of 20, was unable to care for me; she had custody and was solely responsible for her younger siblings and maintaining a home. She made the gut-wrenching decision to place me for adoption, and made sure she was involved in every step of the process. Little did she know that as difficult as this decision had been, it may have saved my life. Not only was I diagnosed with a mild case of osteogenesis imperfecta, a brittle bone disorder, but when I was almost a year old doctors discovered a congenital heart condition that would eventually require me to have two open heart surgeries, one at 21 months and again when I was 24. My birthmother, at the time of my birth was underemployed with no health benefits or private insurance making my fate had I stayed in her care very uncertain. However, her choice of adoption allowed for incredible access to medical care. An opportunity which was one of many that I would be blessed with in my adoptive family’s care and would allow me to thrive.

I will admit that at times growing up, I struggled with the typical issues that many adopted children face, such as identity development, anger, guilt and sense of belonging. In fact I struggled so much in high school, I almost didn’t graduate. Never once during this time did my adoptive family lose confidence in my ability to succeed, although at times the frustration and tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife. I continued to struggle to find my place and personal direction for a few years after high school, but no matter what I went through my family was always there and encouraging me to keep moving forward. I worked my way through a local community college, and eventually transferred with my Associates Degree to Temple University where I began my Bachelors Degree in Social Work; I had realized that my personal background as an adopted child gave me so much empathy along with the capabilities to work with individuals who were also struggling through life. Considering myself a “late bloomer” I eventually graduated Cum Laude with my BSW in 2009 and kept looking forward; I began my Master’s Degree in Social Work just two months after graduation. Through all the hard work, the blood, sweat and tears I poured into my new found love of education, my adoptive family was always supporting me. The early morning phone calls, where I was beyond stressed were combated by words of encouragement and strength, the late nights of cram sessions for exams or writing papers were supported with meals (or coffee and sugar) dropped off by my adoptive mom; every step of the way, there was my family finding ways to help me through. I focused myself on working with children, youth and families, hoping one day to work in the field of adoption.

My struggles along with my passion to give back to others is only deepened by prospect of helping another child receive not only the love, but the support to realize what they are truly capable of in life. While I still don’t have all the answers and sometimes still find myself in an identity battle, I know I have a place. I have a home, and more importantly I have someone to rely on no matter what good or bad things come my way.  I have not only thrived in my adoptive family, even when my future sometimes seemed uncertain, my younger brother, who is also adopted and currently a sophomore in college, has thrived as well. We have both been afforded opportunities that we may not have otherwise had. How do you not only say thank you for the endless love and support that we have received from our adoptive family? No one in our family, including extended family, has ever made us feel unloved or unaccepted, in fact they have always accepted us as one of their own. But how does one say thank you to our birthmothers, the women who made what could be one of the most difficult decisions they have ever make. I know that in both of our hearts and souls are eternally grateful for the opportunity to thrive succeed and reach the potential they believed we had and deserved to attain.

This was The Answer for Samantha, Be The Answer for another child. Using our iAMtheanswer sign (Or make your own), take a picture of yourself showing your support for the I Am The Answer Campaign. Once you’ve done that make it your Facebook or blog picture and keep it there for the rest of the month! Submit your photo to Joint Council at betheanswer@jointcouncil.org with your name and contact phone number  so we can post it on our Facebook page.  By doing this you’ll be entered to win a $50 gift card to Target!

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