During National Adoption Awareness Month, we will introduce you to numerous guests, highlighting many parts of the adoption journey. We are so excited to share the story of Janet Hoover (which could frankly be the storyline of a Hallmark movie). As our website tech extraordinaire, we had no idea Janet had a connection to adoption, but shortly after meeting, she told us that she was adopted! We hope you enjoy her beautiful birth family reunion story as much we did.
By Janet Hoover
I remember always “knowing” I was adopted. Once I was older, my adoptive mom told me that the pediatrician who counseled them before they “got” me gave her a book that read, “tell them from day one, even as a baby, that they are adopted and special.”
Of course, I did not at first understand what that meant, but I came to appreciate knowing I was adopted from a young age–because we’ve all heard the stories and seen the Hallmark movies where one day when you’re 30-something, you find out you’re adopted, and oftentimes it does not turn out so well.
My parents were (and still are, though now, both have dementia) as all-American as apple pie. If you can imagine, I felt like it was a very Leave-it-to-Beaver family life. It was a wonderful childhood. I remember throughout the years, I had questions, thousands of questions about being adopted.
Why did my mother give me up? Who was she? Where was she? Didn’t she love me?…and on and on. I was born in Texas, where adoption records are closed. Both of my parents told me everything they knew, which was very little, but they did say that when I turned 21, I would be able to get the information from the State.
I have always had a deep yearning to know everything. Who am I? Where did I come from? Was my mom a princess and one day I’ll get a letter telling me that I’m the sole heiress?
All they knew and what they were told was that my birth mother was 18 when she had me, not married, was at a “home for unwed mothers,” someone in the family was American Indian, and yes, she loved me. My mom told me that, of course, she loved me, she just wasn’t able to take care of me.
I’ve never had a reason to doubt, so as a kid, I believed that and carried it into adulthood. They were right.
Bless my parents, I can only imagine (especially during my pre-teen years) how hard it was for them to not get sad or upset with me when I’d cry and ask why didn’t my “real mom” want me? It happened a lot around my birthday. I would often contemplate…Was she thinking about me? Did she remember my birthday?
My parents never once during my life lost patience or got upset with me during those cry-fests. They just listened and loved me, and told me that my birth mom loved me too. Perhaps that was in the book, guidance on expecting questions and how to deal with them.
My parents also wanted to make sure that I did not get my hopes up too high. They said I could go and search for anything I wanted and they would help and support me, but to think carefully about it. They warned me of the possibilities for disappointment, perhaps my birth mother had gotten married and never told her husband and kids about me, or something else may have happened in her life.
What would happen if I showed up knocking on the door one day? Maybe she did not want to be “found.” They did not try to change my mind at all, they supported me 1000%, but wanted me to be realistic and approach the situation without rose-colored glasses.
Fast forward to my 40’s; I had long passed the age of 21 and, even though fear over what could happen won in the ongoing curiosity battle over my birth family, I never stopped wondering. It was not until I finally worked up the courage to face what I may find, coupled with the fear of knowing that my birth mom was also getting older and time may be running out, that I finally started digging to find out how I could get my adoption records.
After a formal request to the county court petitioning for access to my healthy history records (I have never been able to fill out the family health history questions at a doctor’s office), I finally received a large envelope containing more than I expected, but not quite everything.
The county court sent me everything they had, although with names and other personal information redacted. I could not dig in fast enough, I was scared to open it, but excited too! It was a gold mine!
I found out where my mother came from and about her family, how my birth father tried to talk her into having an abortion, and what she took with her during her stay at the home for unwed mothers.
I found out that she had dental surgery while she was at the “home,” about the birthmark on the back of her knee, and that her name started with a “B” (someone missed that letter when they marked out her name). Thanks to that wonderful home (which is no longer in business) and their records, I found out all kinds of amazing details.
Like the story, in my own birth mother’s handwriting, about my birth dad and how her mom had sent her to stay with her dad in Texas, and more. To add to that treasure trove, it also contained letters by my adoptive parents giving updates to the home about me, the documents of my adoption, and a copy of my actual birth certificate (with my birth mother’s name marked out).
After “sitting” on this goldmine for a while, I wanted to know more. I did more searching on the net and found groups and organizations where other people were also searching for parents or children they had placed for adoption.
I had to muster my courage again and submitted a few inquiries where I provided a little information about her that if she, or maybe someone that knew her saw it, they would know who I was looking for. Months and months went by, then one day I received an email that said, “I’m your aunt.”
Long story short, my birth mother was the only person left living that knew about me. Her younger siblings were never told until now. The news came out during the holidays (sounds like a Hallmark movie, right?) when the siblings were all in a car traveling together and were telling stories about something they had never told anyone. My birth mom told them about me.
It was a shocker. They had a million questions and wanted to find me, so my aunt made it her mission to track me down. After several months of emails between me, my aunt, and my birth mom (none of the negative scenarios I imagined were true), we all met.
My birth mom had even made me a scrapbook with old family photos, stories of who’s who, and where they came from—what a treasure.
That all happened a few years ago, and now my family (birth and adoptive) has grown. My parents, relieved all turned out well, thanked her for having me so they could adopt and love me. She thanked them for taking care of me.
I have been blessed and am thankful as I know not everyone’s story turns out so well. So, even though there was no rich auntie who left me a million dollars and my grandmother is not the queen, it all turned out perfectly perfect. I am so thankful to my birth mom for being so brave and strong and giving me life, and for my parents who gave me a home full of love. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
Hello! I’m Janet Hoover, the owner and founder of Create Launch Grow, a boutique web design and development company. Specializing in WordPress using Beaver Builder and providing ongoing website care and support, I love teaming up with designers who need help getting their creations online and women in business with websites strategically designed, built with heart, and ready for growth.