by Christine Bergman
Every adoption story is unique; we all experience it a little differently. It can be challenging, it can be messy, and it can even be a little scary sometimes because we don’t always have all the answers. But my adoption story is by far the most beautiful part of me. It is part of who I am and who I strive to be. Open adoption has shown me that love is limitless. The openness of my adoption has enriched my life in more ways than I could tell you. It has empowered me to be the writer of my own story. Not the editor or the reader, but the writer, and today I want to share my story with you.
My adoption story starts when I was just a wee child. At the age of two I was removed from the care of my birth parents and placed in the custody of the state of Oregon. Sadly, my birthparents were struggling with ongoing alcoholism, drug addiction and mental illness. I spent the next 11 months living in two different foster homes while my birth parents and Aunt Melinda worked with a team of counselors at Open Adoption & Family Services to make one of the biggest decisions of my life, one that would change my life forever: Who would be able to provide a good, steady life filled with unconditional love and support for little Christine?
That’s when Susan and Erik entered my life. They were the chosen ones, and I was more than ready. The first time we met I ran full-force at them with my arms spread as wide as they would go, smiling and saying, “New Mommy-Dad!” Our hearts had never been so full. At that moment we all knew it was a match made in heaven. From that moment on, we promised to love and care for one another forever; we were a family.
Often I am asked if I remember bouncing around from foster home to foster home. Was it hard? Was I scared? Could I understand what was going on? The honest answer is, I have no clue. I’m not sure how much I understood at age two and a half. But what I do know is that for as long as I can remember I have always known I was adopted. I have always known I was loved deeply by so many people. Any and all questions I have ever had have been answered. Every uncertainty I’ve felt has been talked through by my wonderful and supportive parents. Every milestone I have hit has been celebrated.
Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been if open adoption hadn’t been a part of my story. Where would I be today if I had been raised by the state in foster care? Would I have had the love and support a child needs in order to be a functioning member of society? Would I have the underlying passion to help change the lives of children, youth, and families I do now if I hadn’t been advocated for by such a loving and caring group of people? Every day and every year that goes by I am forever grateful for the life I was given because open adoption helped connect me to my forever people.
That’s the beauty of open adoption; it allows you to do such things. There are no lies or secrets. Just the truth. In my family we believe the truth is always right. It may not always be easy, but it is always the right thing. I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that the honesty and openness my parents have shown me has created an unbreakable bond in our relationship and has helped me become the woman I am today.