i met James at an improv group class i sometimes attend in Philadelphia and he was the first one to jump into sharing his adoption story. even though the story is pretty hectic, it seems like James has somehow come through it really positively without having any major adoption issues. Thankx for sharing, James:

Well basically I’ve known I’m adopted my whole life. It was never some shrouded family secret. In fact the entire process was made very transparent to me as a kid. That’s not to say that I knew all of the darker details until much later.

Essentially the story goes as such: my birth mother, who was relatively young at the time she got pregnant (around 20,) was schizophrenic. She was very naive about sex and wound up in a one night stand situation with a man she hardly knew. When she became pregnant she and her parents went back and forth about whether or not she was going to have the baby. They were a Catholic family and they heavily pressured her to not have an abortion.

Ultimately when I was born my birth mother decided she wanted to keep me. Social workers, however, felt that she was not mentally equipped to raise me. Thus at the age of 2 weeks I was put into a foster home.

I was placed with a family of four who were absolutely wonderful. You often seen foster families depicted as abusive or terrifying, but I lucked out. They became my family for 2 and a half years! What I now know from having unlocked my adoption records is that my birth mother refused to relinquish her parental rights until that time. She was given chance after chance to prove she could be responsible.

It’s really a tragic story on her end. She ended up meeting and marrying a man with whom she conceived another child. He was mentally well, and it seems like she would be able to get custody of me…but then he died suddenly from a blood condition. Now she had not one but two children whom she could not take care of.

The other sad thing is that by the time I as 2 1/2 and her rights *were* fully terminated, my foster family – who had been planning to adopt me all along – realized that their son was developing a problem with cocaine. They felt it would be irresponsible to split their focus on another child, so they allowed another family to adopt me. That’s the family that raised me.

People get very confused, but I always say that I look at it as having three families: my birth family (the woman who actually gave birth to me,) my foster family (who raised me to age 2 1/2) and my adoptive family, IE: they with whom I spent my entire life.
For the first 15 years or so of my life I had very intimate ties to my foster family, often staying with them several times a year for holidays and such.

I don’t have a lot of adoption issues. A lot of adopted people want to know why they were given up, but even before I knew the answer to that later in life I never really wanted to know. I unlocked my adoption record when I was 19 because I wanted to know if there were any medical issues in my family history.

What I found out is that along with the birth half-sibling I mentioned above, my birth mother went on to have two more children later in life who were also taken into the foster system. So in total I have three half siblings out there in the world. That’s sometimes hard for me to think about because I have absolutely no idea how to track them down.

It’s fascinating to me that people consider adoption taboo even in 2012. We should be much more focused on solving the problems within the foster care system than on the weird stigma associated with being adopted!