What It Feels Like to Be Adopted

Karissa Wennstrom shares her story on what it feels like to be adopted.

I felt like I always knew. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that I was somehow different from my family. I was confused that I did not have my mom’s warm smile or my dad’s green eyes. I didn’t understand why I didn’t look like my siblings and why my siblings didn’t look like my parents. Why were we all so different? I was confused as a child, but once I found out that I was adopted the start of my longing questions were answered.

I started to catch on once my parents introduced me to Nicky, a “family friend.” Every year on my birthday my mom, Nicky, Nicky’s husband and Nicky’s parents would take me to Rainforest Cafe and then Build-A-Bear Workshop. Every time I would build a new stuffed animal and her dad would take pictures. Everything I did was photographed. From the brownie volcano dessert they would bring out at Rainforest to the same toy dog I would stuff and dress up year after year. That’s when I started to crack the code. It became more and more obvious as I got older who this family friend was. She was my biological mother.

I didn’t mind that Nicky was my birth mother. It didn’t change anything after I knew. My mom would always be my mom even if Nicky was my biological mother. I’m grateful that she makes an effort to see me every now and then, especially when I was younger. My parents were always honest about my adoption. As I grew up, I gained more knowledge about part of my life that I initially didn’t even know about.

My biological parents were only seventeen; with already trying to balance the stress of high school, a newborn baby wasn’t ideal. I understand the situation she was in. As a current senior in high school, I don’t blame her. I understand the decision she made. As many questions of my adoption were answered, some are still left in the dark.

I do not know who my birth father is or anything about him, except that people call him Rob. I do think about him a lot though. I question if he ever wants to meet me. Does he knowswhat I look like? Does he ever think about the daughter he had in high school? What would we say to each other? I’ve accepted that these questions might never be answered, that I’ll never know who this man is, but I could not be more grateful about where I am now.

Although my curiosity about my biological family will continue to grow, I find myself very lucky and I ask myself, “why me?” But I usually answer myself with “lucky me.” I have a family that loves me unconditionally and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. I understand why my biological parents gave me up, but I was lucky enough to be given the chance to live.

I want to live for the children that never got the chance to be here today. The children that are stuck in unsafe and unhealthy environments. I live and love for children in orphanages who have never been loved. Adoption taught me that all it takes is one decision: one to change a life. When I grow older I will always consider the option to adopt a child, to love the ones who have yet to be loved. To care for them how my parents cared for me and my siblings.

Along this journey I have learned many things, I have learned to appreciate the little things in life; the things that truly matter. To cherish the birthdays, laughter and lazy Sundays; the time I get to spend with my parents and siblings, who are also all adopted. As days go in and out, I remind myself to appreciate what I have been given. I have gained ambition to make the most out of my life that was spared with one decision.

Many people can’t grasp the feeling of what it feels like to be adopted, but it truly is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Everyday, I am thankful for the amazing life that I was given to live. Although I don’t have my mom’s smile or my dad’s eyes, I am thankful for the family that has given me unconditional love