ADOPTION STORIES : No Unanswered Questions
Submitted by : Catherine Derry
In my line of work, I get to talk about what it is like to be an adoptive parent, sharing and relating to other adoptive and prospective adoptive parents I don’t often talk about what came first, and that was being adopted. It is Adoption month, and I would like to share that story. It is a story of the universe finding me the best parents, and of searching for answers.
My story isn’t perfect, because all adoption comes with loss and a feeling of rejection, but in that loss, I found a great place to land. I was adopted at a very young age. I was born Katherine Joyce Miller on July 8, 1970. My birth mom was undecided and placed me in foster care. Eventually, my birth Mother decided, when I was 3 months old that she could not care for me and I was placed for adoption. An Adoptive home was found when I was 4 months old. On November 9, 1970 I went home to my forever family and was named from then on Catherine Elizabeth Derry. My parents always wanted children and decided to adopt many years into their marriage. My Mom and Dad both tell me the day that I came home was the happiest day of their life. My Mom remembers every detail of me coming into the house with the social workers, the smile on my face, my arms out to her, my blue dress (I still have the outfit I came in, my mother lovingly saved it), the orange thin hair on my head. My mother tells of the adoring family gathered to welcome me, my Dad, my Grandmother, Aunts and Uncle. I was the youngest in the family and very much cherished.
My parents helped me and 100% supported me through every hard time and every achievement in my life. I knew I could always count on them to have my back, in fact I would hazard to say, I would not have achieved all I have without their support and pushes. There were some things they could not help with. I came from a closed Adoption, this was really how adoption was in the 1970s. I wondered about many things as a child. Who was my birth Mother, maybe a movie star, or a member of the royal family, trying to avoid a scandal? Maybe, my much older cousin was my birth mom, maybe that is why her Mother and I were so close? None of these were true. I also wondered why I wasn’t enough? Why my birth Mom placed me? Why no one in my birth family thought I was good enough to keep? My parents listened but, they could not answer these questions. They just assured me that they loved me and hoped that was enough. When I grew up I found my birth Mother’s side of the family, and it was like I found the missing piece of my puzzle. People that looked like me, that had my habits and quirks. I unfortunately did not get to have a relationship with my biological brother, he died before that could happen, and that is a big missing part of me. I met my birth mom and learned more about her and her story. And really my adoption was the best for me and her.
Adoption was really the best thing for me. My parents were beyond amazing, I could not have been surrounded with more unconditional love and support. My parents are no longer in this world now and I miss them profoundly. They were my pick up the phone to call, when the little happened, the big happened, the celebrations and the vents. They centered their life and love on me, and I carry that feeling throughout my life. What could have been different for me? Open adoption! While the circumstances were not right for me to grow up with my biological mom, it would have been wonderful to have been connected to her and her family. My questions would have been answered and I would have been able to form memories and share experiences to these people, that are an important part of who I am. How did I take that experience and turn it into something positive? Well, my daughter who is adopted, has an open adoption. She knows nothing different. She has two loving parents, but she has been connected to her birth family and knows the love and connection. She has no unanswered questions.