Adoption Insight from an Adoptee & a Giveaway

Adoption is near and dear to my heart. It’s a journey my husband and I are walking and will continue to walk for the rest of our lives. Which means I’m always looking for insight. I’ve taken online courses, read books and blogs, and talked with other adoptive mamas. But nothing’s quite as insightful as talking to a person who knows what it’s like to be adopted. Today, I’m pleased to have award-winning author and adoptee, Catherine West, on my blog to answer some questions.

Cathy, what’s the best/hardest thing about being adopted?

Hmm. I guess as an adult I would say knowing now that God had each day of my life ordained for me from the moment I was conceived. As a child, I am not sure there was a ‘best’ thing. Being adopted automatically makes you different. Back when I grew up, in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, being different was not cool. So being adopted was actually a hard thing to process and understand. It was much easier to just pretend I wasn’t.

The hardest thing has been to acknowledge that I was relinquished, and to know that even though my birth mother chose not to keep me, God still loved me and chose my parents for me and chose me for them. Sometimes it’s hard to understand how a person could walk away from their own child, but God speaks to that in Isaiah 49:15 – “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”

As a person who was adopted, what’s the one thing you think every adoptive parent should know?

I think they should know that even though that child is ‘theirs’, there is a history. One phrase that really stuck with me when I was searching, and I used it in Hidden in the Heart, is: You existed before you were adopted.

The truth is, the adopted child has a birth mother and a birth father, maybe birth siblings, and certainly an entire genetic history that has nothing to do with their adoptive family. I think there needs to be respect for that. I also think it is natural for the adoptive child to want to know the answers to questions like, “Where did I come from?” “Who do I look like?” “Why didn’t my ‘real’ mother want to keep me?”  Just because you give a child a loving home does not mean you can fill the void left by the act of a mother relinquishing their child. Accept that, and when that child has questions, be as open and honest as you can with them.

As a person who was adopted, what’s the one thing you wish the world at large understood about adoption?

Wow, this one is harder! From everything we see in the media, adoption is portrayed as this fairytale. A couple travels to a foreign land, ‘saves’ their child, and brings him or her back to their homeland, wherever that may be, and everything’s coming up roses.

Okay, I’m simplifying, but honestly? It doesn’t work that way. On the one hand, you have people wanting to do this wonderful thing and it IS wonderful, but it costs a ton of money, takes a huge emotional toll and does not always turn out the way it was planned. On the other hand, you’re talking about an entire generation of children who will most likely never know their family history, and may always struggle with feelings of abandonment, displacement and rejection.

I think the decision to adopt, whether it is done international or domestically, needs to be made with much prayer and wise, professional, counsel.

Your newest novel, Hidden in the Heart, deals with adoption. Tell us a little bit about it.

This book was truly written from the heart. It’s about a young woman, Claire Ferguson, who has lost her mother to cancer and then suffered a miscarriage. Claire is adopted and wonders if she possesses some unknown genetic flaw that caused her to miscarry. This propels her into the search for her birth family. Claire’s journey is very loosely based on my own search and reunion journey. Whilst she goes through many things I did not, all her emotions were written from firsthand experience.

Cathy is giving away a FREE copy of her latest novel to one lucky commenter! So make sure to leave a comment to be entered to win! Winner will be announced this Friday!

Let’s Talk: What do you think is a common misunderstanding about adoption? Do you have any questions for Cathy?

Join me over on Cathy’s blog for a chance to win a copy of my debut novel as I talk about adoption from a soon-to-be adoptive mama’s perspective!

My debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter, may not be about adoption, but it does explore a common theme in adoption – beauty and hope arising from those broken, barren seasons in our lives. If this sounds like a novel you’d like to try, you can read the first three chapters for free here.

If I haven’t already, I’d love to send you a welcome packet! Just click on the sign-up button up top!

55 thoughts on “Adoption Insight from an Adoptee & a Giveaway

  1. Katie Ganshert

    CONGRATS To Cynthia Herron, the winner of Cathy’s book!

  2. Vickie Jameson

    This looks like a very interesting book and I’d love to win a free copy. Thanks!

  3. We adopted our 4 throught the Department of Human Services. It was like a Christmas present each time we were give a child!

  4. Cathy and Katie, I have so enjoyed both of your stories. I have a nephew who was given up for adoption because my sister already had 3 children aND the babie’s dad wanted no part in his life, so she didn’t feel like she couldn’t support another child. I always wondered about him and prayed all of these years that he was in a loving home, and, that someday he and my sister(and me) would be able to know him. My prayers were answered. His sisters decided to hunt for him when they found out. My sister was always afraid he would hate her instead of wanting to know her. But, she wanted him to know his sisters, even if not her. Well, when he was 50, he was found. He had been searching for her also, which I think made it a little easier, tho the search had gone for some time. You see, his folks had told him when he was 6 that he was adopted. He waited until they passed away to look for his birth mom. He didn’t want to hurt them. He did have good parents and later a brother. She only got to see him a few times, because of distance, but they were good times. One f the first things he did when he found her, was to send a box of pictures, from birth throughout different ages, including graduation picture, and one of him just before mailing. This meant the world to her.The first time we got to meet him was at a family re-union. I can’t imagine how it was for him to walk into such a big crowd. I am one of 8 siblings so we had a crowd. Of course, he met her the night before. I had always prayed that if GOD wanted him to be found that it would be before she died. She died about 3 years after finding him. An answer to my prayers.

    1. What a beautiful story, Maxie, thanks for sharing!

  5. Cathy and Katie, I really enjoyed reading both of your blog posts today, such great insight and perspectives…as a fellow adoptee along with Cathy, I certainly agree that it is more complicated than we realize on the surface, and as Cathy said, my search for my birth mother impacted me psychologically and emotionally. I am currently reading Cathy’s new book, “Hidden in the Heart”…it’s so good…it really hits close to home 🙂

    1. Thanks Beth! I’m looking forward to having you on my blog in November! From todays activity, I can see that there are SO many people touched by adoption. It’s really going to be great to share stories from all the different angles!

      1. I so-o-o agree with you 🙂

  6. Cherlyn

    I would love to win a copy of your book “Hidden in the Heart”. Our adopted son, who was 2 days old when he came to be ours, is now 16 yrs old and has many questions. I have NO idea how he feels to be adopted. As his mother, he feels NO DIFFERENT to me than our own 2 biological children. His parents were drug addicts who chose each other and their addiction rather than to change their lives and keep him and his 2 sisters. So we were blessed to adopt them!

    1. I know my parents never felt as though I wasn’t ‘theirs’ in every sense of the word. We just didn’t talk about it that much, and later, as I got older, I realized that was probably not a good thing. Being adopted and given a loving home is wonderful, but that doesn’t mean the child still won’t have questions or want to know their story, even if it’s a hard one to hear. I think knowing that you have the freedom to ask is a great thing. Open and honest dialogue between children and parents is vital in any situation, but really important in the adoption realm. 🙂

  7. Sandy Rutkowski

    The book sounds wonderful–I would love to win it.

  8. Amber

    Always enjoy reading about subjects that I am passionate about.

  9. I am a birthmother and I first have to say that we do NOT forget our children..ever. Even if the relinquishment was trauma inducing and we manage to bury it all, it’s still there. Sadly,it’s usually NOT so happily ever after on our end.
    I have a great many friends that are adopted and while I dislike speaking FOR them, I can also say that one of the hardest things they experience is that our government still discriminates against the adult adoptee in the US and treats them like a perpetual child. Like Cathy said, it’s THEIR history and they have a right to know it.

    It’s just insane that the sealed records laws have not been updated to reflect what we now know about human nature and genetic information. Adoptees in the US should have the right to access their original birth information just like everyone else. Please, if you are or love an adoptee, support the Adoptee Rights Coalition!

    Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy

    1. Can you hear me applauding??!! Thank you for validating my feelings and for sharing your heart as a birth mother. I was fortunate that in Bermuda, although we too have sealed records, my parents were given my papers and somehow my birth mother’s name and location at the time of my birth (she was from the US but had me in Bermuda) were given. Chalk it up to Miracle #1 along my journey. Not having access to our records is the most ludicrous thing, who are we protecting? i don’t get it. In my book though, I explore this issue, so I sort of get that if you are a birth mother who never wants to be found, then you appreciate the closed records thing, but is it really fair? Not from where I’m sitting. Just another dynamic of adoption – red tape! I’m so glad you feel the way you do though, Claudia. My birth mother was not too happy to be found, and that was tough.

  10. Kirsten Petty

    I enjoyed reading your blog about your journey with adoption. I don’t know many adults who were adopted. But I’ve read quite a few blogs about children adopted from Africa, China and Haiti. I would love a chance to win your book.

  11. Cherie Kasper

    I have no experience with adoption, my husband and I wanted to because of wanting more children, but both of us have bad health and it wasn’t possible. We had a grieving time over this, but came through it with God’s help. I would love to read Cathy’s book.

  12. Great interview, ladies. I think I’ve often thought it would be hard to adopt a child and then have them want to find their “real” parents. That term…real parents…what does that mean? For any adoptive parent, it would make sense that they shouldn’t take offense if their child wanted to explore more about where they came from. But it would be hard…I’m just being honest.

    I think it’s really good advice to become educated about it and speak with those who have had adoption touch them in some way, so that you know the realities of the experience (or at least, what the experience could be like) before adopting a child.

    1. Hi Lindsay! For me, my ‘real’ parents are Mom and Dad, the two people who raised me. I would never have thought of my birth mother as my ‘real’ mother. She gave birth to me, but she was not a mother to me. I don’t know how other adoptees handle it if they have a good relationship with both their birth mom and the mom who raised them, I was never in that position so I didn’t have to worry about it, but nobody could ever take the place of my parents in my heart. Yet I still wanted answers. Is that a good enough reason to search, to disrupt another person’s life, to knock on a door that somebody may not want to open? As you can see, it’s a very complicated matter indeed. I had to weigh all sides very carefully and make the best decisions I could, and fortunately I felt very in tune with where God was leading, but there were a few disasters along the way! And yes, I think the adoptive parents may feel hurt or bewildered when their child wants to search, that’s as natural a reaction as wanting to know is for the child.

    2. Katie Ganshert

      I know God put a specific woman in my life awhile back so that this would never be a concern for me. She has two biological daughters and an adopted son. She always said that William is hers as much as her two daughters are. She’s also protected his story so that it truly is his story and has encouraged William to ask questions and meet his birth mother. She is so thankful for this woman b/c she gave her her son. When I saw how truly unintimidated my friend was by this, it made sense. I mean, she raised William. William loves her like any child loves his parents. But like Cathy says….it’s natural to want to know where we come from and see a reflection of ourselves in another face. That’s why I really wish I could give this gift to our child, although we won’t be able to. 🙁

  13. Judy Migliori

    My late husband was adopted. He found his adoption papers in the bottom drawer of his parents dresser. His adopted parents stayed mum their whole lives about his biological parents. When his adopted Mom died last year I was sure we would find papers of some kind giving us a clue to his biological family. Your book seems intriguing.

    1. Wow, I feel bad when I hear stories like that. How sad to never know the truth. I always wonder what possesses parents to wait to tell a child, or never tell them at all. It’s almost like it’s something they’re ashamed of, and that shouldn’t be. I bet if you ask enough people who were around (if they’re still living) at the time of your husband’s birth, somebody will know something. What a mystery! Sounds even better than my book! I pray you find some answers.

      1. Cherlyn

        I adopted three children after having 2 of our own (losing a 3rd child to a 20 week miscarriage). I didn’t tell our youngest child, he was 2 days old when we adopted, that he was adopted because I didn’t want to share him…NEVER something I was ashamed of. He was as much mine as the 2 I gave birth to and I never wanted him to feel any differently.

  14. I know a young lady who placed a child for adoption. She wasn’t rejecting the child or abandoning him…she assured him life, a better life she could ever give him. It made me think of Solomon’s wisdom. The truest love is the love that is willing to sacrifice for another. In this day of abortion, to create life and then give it as a gift to another is an awesome thing.

    1. Oh, I totally get that! BUT, when you are that adopted child, and you have no idea WHY you were given up, feelings of abandonment and rejection do occur. It’s not something that I say to point fingers at birth mothers or anything like that, it is what it is. I can honestly say that I believe there is a connection/bond or whatever you wish to call it, between a birth mother and her child. How could there not be? When that bond is broken and the child is no longer able to be with their birth mother, a scar is formed. Sometimes we don’t even know it’s there. I didn’t know how deeply being adopted had impacted me psychologically or emotionally until I began my search. It isn’t something I can explain easily in this forum, but trust me, those feelings of abandonment and rejection are very real, and I had the best upbringing in the world and two parents who loved me beyond measure. And yes, I am truly grateful to my birth mother for giving me life. She could have made another choice. She didn’t.

  15. Thanks, Catherine, for sharing. Very interesting to read. And I appreciated all the questions and answers in the comments section, too.

    1. Me too! Love all the different points of view.

  16. Sandi Ansell

    I always wanted to be adopted, lol…I was number six out of eight children and the third daughter…I never felt special after my younger sister was born nine years after my birth. I am thrilled, however, to have gotten “over myself” and am now surrounded by seven siblings and 29 or so nieces and nephews and even some “greats” now. Life is strange. I’d love to win this book. God bless.

    1. LOL! 🙂

  17. Roy Wahlgren

    Ready to read a new book!!!

  18. Its beautiful to hear your story again Cathy and God was amazing when he touched your life by adoption- My local adoption group just moved and we had 20 at our first meeting in Chicagoland, IL. Hope to share your book with them next meeting- enter me in the drawing! My adoptive mom is 90 today and heads back to Florida Saturday- I will have more time now to read your awesome book-Blessings from fellow adoptee and sister in Christ, Jody

    1. Thanks Jody! Glad you stopped by!

  19. You know, I think I’m one who has always seen adoption as, like Cathy said, a fairy tale. And I’m sure it has its fairy tale moments…but with plenty of challenges mixed in. Thanks for the eye opening post, Cathy, and for hosting her, Katie!

    1. Hi, Melissa! It’s an easy misconception. If you’ve never had any experience with adoption, known anyone who has been adopted or who has adopted, then I think it’s common to assume that it’s all happily ever after. In reality, making the decision to adopt or to place your child for adoption is a life-changing moment that will continue to affect your life at every turn, whatever member of the triad you are, adoptee, adoptive parent or birth parent. And for years, especially the decades I grew up in, nobody talked about it. So it was even harder to figure it all out. Today, thank goodness, we all have many resources and communities to go to for support.

  20. Love that you two linked up on this topic. So much light to shed on this for us!

    It’s a beautiful sacrifice, adopting is.
    Love your stories.
    ~ Wendy

    1. Aw, thanks Wendy! It was great having Katie on my blog to, I hope you will go check out what she has to say on the topic of adoption! It’s wonderful to have so many perspectives. 🙂

  21. Wendie Elledge

    God bless those who care for children who grew in their hearts instead of their bellies. Wonderful post!

    1. Agreed, Wendie!

  22. Cathy, what you say is every bit true. When my sister and brother-in-law adopted our two beautiful nieces from China,that was only one hurdle. Granted, a huge one, but really, just the tip of the iceberg. Indeed there was the “honeymoon period” and adjustment months, mountains of bills, well-meaning comments from perfect strangers… Not to mention, like you said, stuggles with identity issues, genetic issues, and feelings of insecurity/abandonment.

    Though the road has been paved with myriad stumbling blocks, it has also been one enriched by countless blessings. He truly is the God of miracles!

    I loved your post, Cathy, and can’t wait to read your book!

    Katie, I’m sooo praying for your family’s journey. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Cynthia! Yes, I think at the end of it all, the most important thing to remember is that when you adopt, you are giving a child something he or she might not otherwise have had – a loving home with two parents committed to each other and to that child, hopefully with Christ in the center. As one who has searched and found, it is hard for me to think of so many kids who will never get the answers they may need, but my prayer for them is that they will find their true identity in Christ. As fortunate as I was to be able to now know who I look like and where I came from, none of that is eternal. What really matters is that I know even if God had chosen not to reveal anything to me, I would have been okay, because I am His and He is mine. We get what we need when we need it, and sometimes He throws in extra blessings just for fun. 😉

  23. Susan Wilson

    Thanks so much for the interview with Cathy! I cannot wait to read her book Hidden in the Heart. I was a gestational surrogate mother two times and I believe there may come a day when either one or both of those children will come to me with questions. I look forward to that day, if it ever comes!

    1. Oh my goodness, haven’t heard that one before! Wow, Susan, what a gift you have given to those families. Incredible. And that adds even more dynamics to the mix. Not something I know a lot about, but I would imagine it is also a very difficult but rewarding journey.

      1. Sonia Meeter

        In my attachment research, I read that babies born of surrogates have a tendency to feel the abandonment too. The bond that the baby feels with the surrogate is just as if the surrogate is the biological mom. From a mental perspective, they weren’t abandoned or relinquished at all. But from an emotional, state memory perspective, they feel the abandonment – at a cellular level, literally.

  24. Nicole McDonald

    I would love to read your book! I too was adopted and searched for my birth parents for 17 years for medical reasons. I found them 2 years ago, thankfully after I had found Christ! Without Him I wouldn’t have been able to handle my unrealistic expectations being so far from the reality of our reunion. But I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

    1. Katie Ganshert

      Amen, Nicole!!

    2. Wow. Amen to that. God’s timing is incredible! I know exactly what you mean. The human brain is a scary thing sometimes and can really do a number on us, right?! Search and reunion is such an emotionally draining process, even if you have a great experience, it is still a huge upheaval because suddenly you’re not the person you were when you started…you have other people to add to the mix…and on and on… It is definitely NOT a journey to take without your hand in His. 🙂

  25. Judy Burgi

    I think one of the misunderstanding about adoption is that children up for adoption are not going to bond well into your family unit.

    Cathy, have you met your birth parents? Siblings?

    I would really love to win a copy of Hidden In the Heart. The cover of this book tugs at my heart.

    Blessings and thanks for your post!

    1. Katie Ganshert

      The cover tugs at my heart too! I know Cathy will be around answering questions today. 🙂

    2. Hi Judy! I never felt like I didn’t belong with my Mom and Dad growing up, but I didn’t have any siblings, so I don’t know if things would have been different had they also had bio children. It was more the question of where did I really come from first, that bothered me.
      Yes, I have reunited with my birth family. To make a very long and incredible story short, I met my birth mother once, over Thanksgiving weekend in ’05, and she passed away 5 months later. I have a half sister that I am incredibly blessed to have a wonderful relationship with and I try to see her as often as possible. For more on these stories, go to my website and check the Extras!

      1. Judy Burgi

        Thank you Cathy for your reply!

  26. karenk

    a wonderful/insightful posting, cathy..thanks for sharing your story.

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

    1. Katie Ganshert

      I always love when I see your name here, Karen! 🙂 You would love this book!

    2. Thanks, Karen! I have so much to say on this issue that I think Katie had to cut me off at some point! LOL! Otherwise we’d be here for days!!

  27. Thanks for hosting me today, Katie! I hope my honest answers are helpful to anyone considering adoption, and not too scary. 🙂 It really is a wonderful thing and I fully support it.

    1. Katie Ganshert

      It’s my pleasure! I’ve loved listening to you and hearing about your journey!

  28. […] the original post here: Adoption Insights from an Adoptee | Katie Ganshert – wildflowers … ← Fewer Foreign Children Available for Utah Families to Adopt | the Salt […]


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