For most of her life, Holt adoptee Molly Martin viewed her adoption as something that just “happened.” But after traveling to Thailand to meet her birth mom, she developed a completely different outlook — and a deeper understanding of how loved she truly is. Molly’s story was a finalist in Holt’s 2016 adoptee essay contest.
For someone who was adopted at a young age, being adopted seems, for lack of a better word, normal. For as long as I can remember, except for a few blurry memories, being adopted is all that I have known. I don’t really remember what it was like not to be adopted, so being adopted has always seemed somewhat natural and definitely not really anything worth talking about. However, at the same time, being adopted isn’t normal. While I can’t speak for all kids that have been adopted, I think a lot of us, at some point or another, have entertained the thought that our situations aren’t normal. Surely, not looking like my family wasn’t normal and the thought that my biological family did not want me was always in the back of my mind. But those aren’t exactly things that most kids want to talk about.
Because of the seeming normality of my adoption, it was never something that I felt compelled to talk about or share with others. It didn’t feel important or like it was a part of who I am. People would often ask me where I am from and I would instinctively respond, “Raleigh, NC” when the real answer they were looking for was “Bangkok, Thailand.” Telling people “Yeah, my parents are white” in response to questioning looks they gave me after meeting my parents became the norm and I would typically zone out when people found out I was adopted and gave me the, “Wow, that is so amazing!” spiel. Because honestly, to me, being adopted wasn’t amazing. It wasn’t great. It was just something that happened that I had no control over (don’t get me wrong, I am SO thankful to have been adopted by my amazing family!). It was just a part of my past that I did not care to talk about.
However, recently, that has all changed. Over Christmas of 2014, my adoptive family and I traveled back to my homeland to meet my birth mother for the very first time. A few years prior, I told my parents that I wanted to meet my birth mother if at all possible. I’m not exactly sure what prompted me to make such a request; I think I was just curious to know more about my heritage and my background. My adoptive parents very graciously took my request in stride and contacted Holt to see if it were possible. After years of planning and being in touch with the social workers in Thailand, they had contacted my birth mother and set up a date for me to meet her. And before I knew it, I was boarding a flight to Bangkok, Thailand for what was going to be a life-changing experience.
Going into the meeting, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Meeting the woman who gave birth to you for the first time at 19 years old isn’t exactly a common experience. I couldn’t exactly go up to my friends and ask them, “So, what was it like meeting your birth mom?” And secretly, I thought my birth mother was selfish. I knew from my records that my birth mother had given me up for adoption because she was too poor to properly care for me. To me, that just meant that she was too selfish to work harder or to get a better paying job. While that sounds extremely harsh, I just couldn’t understand her reasoning for putting me up for adoption, and I definitely didn’t want to accept it.
I don’t think anything could have properly prepared me for that experience. As I stood in a private room with my adoptive family, waiting for the Holt social workers to bring my birth mother into the room, I thought my heart was going to explode out of my chest. When they finally brought her in, I was shocked. The woman standing in front of me was the spitting image of me, only aged by a couple years, and crying. And she cried for what seemed like forever. It was extremely awkward, as I didn’t know whether to hug her or just stand there. One of the social workers prompted me to give her a hug and when I did, she clung onto me, with tears still streaming down her face.
Eventually, my birth mother was able to stop crying long enough to talk to me (through a translator). She told me that for the past 19 years she had carried with her so much guilt, hurt and sadness for putting me up for adoption. When I was born, she knew that she was too poor to give me a good life. She gave me up hoping that I would get adopted by a family that could give me the life that she would never be able to give me. It wasn’t a lack of love that made her put me up for adoption, but it was her abundance of love.
Meeting my birth mother completely changed my outlook on my adoption. Rather than being something that just ‘happened,’ it is something that has shaped every facet of my life and my identity. Instead of growing up without a father, I have an incredibly strong and loving father. Instead of growing up without an education, I am excited to say that I will be graduating in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in social work. And instead of believing that I am unloved, I know that I am incredibly loved — by a birth mother who gave up being able to see me grow up and have me call her ‘mom,’ by my adoptive family that has loved me even when I’ve had nothing to offer them, and by an amazing adoption agency that worked so hard to give me a forever family. Adoption will forever be a part of who I am and a story that I won’t stop sharing.
Molly Martin | North Carolina
After meeting her birth mom, Molly created a video about the experience, which she gave us permission to share: