As early as I can remember, my parents have told me that I was adopted. The story is super cute and my dad still gets a little choked up when he tells the story about the day that they placed me in their arms and how they just KNEW that I was their baby. They would tell me, Shelley, you are SO special. They said it over and over again. These words were important to me growing up. You are special. I knew that I was special and being adopted has been one of the biggest blessings in my life!
I was born on January 14th 1982 in Phoenix Arizona. I was placed in my wonderful parents arms at the Mesa LDS family services office on January 22nd, 8 days after my birth. Even though I do not remember it, I know that it was one of the best days of my little life.
With closed adoptions 30 years ago there was such limited information. All that my parents receive after placement was a small three to four paragraph piece of paper. It is basically family and medical history, which was very vague. It has some facts of where the family originated. Still the facts are broad. I have read it thousands of times in hopes to pull something more out of it.
If I could have my wish, I would liked to have known these things:
What is her name?
What does she look like? Do I look like her?
How old was she when she had me?
What does she like to do?
Can she sing or play a musical instrument?
What type of personality traits did I inherit from her?
Where does she live?
What is all the medical history in her family?
Is she happy?
Did she have more children?
If she has a family do they know about me?
What did she do with her life?
Is she doing the things that Heavenly Father would have her do?
Did she ever see me?
What was he like?
Is he happy?
Is he doing the things that Heavenly Father would want him to be doing?
Some of you would ask why do you want to know these things? My answer to that would be that it definitely differs from person to person. Having a few friends, a couple of cousins and my own mother having been adopted I know that I am not alone on some of the questions that I have had. Growing up, when people would find out that I was adopted, there was always a really positive reaction and then they would ask a whole bunch of questions that I was NOT prepared to answer. I didn’t know any of the answers and there is so many questions that a person can take when they just don’t know. I want to make a note before I go any further that it is different for everyone and these are my own personal feelings. I am sure that I made my mom’s head spin at all of the million questions that I spit at her. I would always ask her if she was hiding something from me and often would snoop in their stuff to find a document or letter of some sort. The truth is that the letters or hidden documents that I had hoped to find had never even existed. It was hard and me being a very curious girl to begin with wasn’t making it any easier. Here is the way that I coped with not knowing the things that I wondered and the things that people would ask me: I used to make things up. I used a toy bunny that I told everyone she gave to me. I even went as far as telling everyone that my birthmother was Whitney Houston! For those of you who don’t know her, she is very black and an amazing singer. I used to think I could sing exactly like her when I was 5 & 6. I remember telling my mom very seriously that I thought that she truly was my birth mother and then proceeded to sing “ Oh I wanna dance with somebody.” You know....just to prove it. To this day my family won’t let me live it down. If she comes up on TV or is on a poster somewhere my siblings laugh and say “Hey Shelley! It’s your birth mom!” It’s pretty funny now.
Now while I have a lot of questions about my origin and birth parents, I do need to add that there is one very important question that I can answer without fail. I found this answer through personal revelation. Why? Why they did it. Well everyone I KNOW why. It is because they loved me. They wanted something more for their precious daughter of Heavenly Father that they chose to place me with two wonderful parents that were able to provide me with so much. I am very sure that I was meant to go to the family that I went to and I had the most amazing childhood ever! By doing what they did, my birthparents provided me with a stable, spiritually sustaining home with a mother and a father, where I was able to thrive upon my parent’s wonderful testimonies. They taught me about the Savior and what it meant to be a good example and serve other people. They were able to give me four siblings shortly after I came to the family. They took me to the temple when I was one to be sealed to them for all of Eternity by my very own grandfather, who was a temple sealer. My birthparents gave me the gift of being raised in a home where I learned that we are all God’s children.
I am a mother of one precious little girl. She is six years old and her name is Tatum. My husband and I feel so blessed to have her and know that Heavenly Father sent her to us so that we can teach her how to live her life in a way that emulates the Savior. It is a humbling experience and I feel such a responsibility to do it right. I feel that the knowledge and testimony that I have of the gospel is a direct blessing that came from my birth parent’s decision to place me in the home that they did. They were not ready for the challenges of parenthood and knew that it was important for me to go to my family. I commend, respect and love them so much for that.
On August 11th of this year, my husband Shane and I entered the very same LDS family services building that I was placed in my parents arms 29 years and 10 months ago. I am so happy to announce that we are now embarking on our own adoption journey. My husband and I just got certified and our profile is up on the LDS family services website. We are currently looking for our baby and we could not be more excited! We look forward to welcoming a new baby into our home to love, to teach, and to guide throughout this life. So you see? The decision that my birthparents made so long ago continues to bless my life and those that I love. My very own special parents that raised me, those wonderful and amazing parents who adopted me taught me how to be who I am today. I love them so much. I would have never had their great examples and guidance if my birth parents had not been so selfless.
I love my birth parents. It would be so great if I could someday get the answers to the questions that I have behind those two mystery people that I love. While it is not totally important to my happiness to know the things I want to about them, I feel that it would be a sort of healing experience and would put an end to all the wondering. I want to make sure that when we are placed with a beautiful child of our Heavenly Father, that they will never have any of the questions that I had growing up.
For those of you trying to adopt or if you plan on placing your child, try to have an open mind and remember my story when deciding if you will do an open or closed adoption. I hope that I have been able to tell my story and relay my feelings in an adequate way that can help support you in the decisions that you make with adoption. My hope for all children is that they will grow up healthy, happy, and strong. That they will have the kind of stability and wonderful home that I was placed in. It is my prayer that the children who are adopted will not grow up with unanswered questions about their birth parents and that they will come to know and embrace our Savior Jesus Christ. I love being adopted. It is a true gift and I leave these things that I have said with you and wish you well in all of your endeavors to come!
In a nutshell! These are some of the things that I will say at conference. I will probably elaborate much more. Who knows what will come out of my mouth. I feel that sometimes I can be a loose cannon without any filters. Wish me luck that I don't say something silly! Anything could come out of my mouth. I'll update with pictures later:)