Real Adoption Stories


Adoptive Families’ collection of personal adoption stories, written by adoptive parents, adoptees, birth parents, and others touched by adoption. We hope the stories will make you nod your head in recognition, help you reminisce, make you laugh—or fight back tears—and encourage and inspire you on your adoption journey.

a mother on talking with her African-American daughter about racism in the U.S.

The Talk: Revealing the Realities of Racism to My African-American Child

The Talk: Revealing the Realities of Racism to My African-American Child

Growing up in Trinidad, I didn’t use the word black to describe myself. But as the mother of two black children in the U.S., I walk the fine line of raising them to believe they are capable and worthy while understanding that everyone in this country has been taught to discount their value.

an adoptive mother listens to and learns from her child

Lessons I’ve Learned from My Children

Over decades as a foster and adoptive parent and an adoption social worker, I have mothered and supported hundreds of children. Each one has taught me more than I passed along to them. Here is just some of that wisdom.

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the author's preteen children pictured with their birth mother during a visit

“Meeting Jennifer” – Opening a Foster Adoption

After adopting my children from foster care, we eased into contact with their birth mother. She and I—a conservative, suburban mom—couldn’t be more different, and I’m glad that’s the case. The kids have a special relationship with her that they can’t have with me.

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a woman looks through an album, holding a photo of her biological brother from one of his visits

“Sister—a Role I Wasn’t Ready to Play”

"My biological brother was adopted as an infant. When he found us, he was eager to claim us as family. But is that really what we were?" A woman shares the story of meeting her birth sibling and offers advice for others contemplating search or faced with a reunion.

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author Billy Cuchens and his son Jayden snuggle together at home

“My Snuggle Boy”

When we adopted our son as a toddler, he rarely displayed emotion and wouldn't show us any affection. How far my big, cuddly 10-year-old has come!

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A phone call cemented a mother and daughter bond.

“This Is For Real”

An unexpected emergency tests the strength of a mother-daughter bond.

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A heart on graph paper

“Overcoming All Odds”

Although we knew our South American-born son would face challenges growing up in a predominantly white middle class suburb, we were totally unprepared for what was to come.

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author Lena Choudhary and her family on a trip to her daughter's birth country

“Race…and Starbucks”

My parents were immigrants from Germany and India, my husband also comes from a mixed background; we have one biological child, and one adopted from South Korea. What makes my daughter Korean? What makes her American?

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Susan Belfiore with her family that she met as an orphanage volunteer before becoming their adoptive mother.

“Beyond All Expectations”

She went abroad intending to be an orphanage volunteer—and came back a mother.

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The Kremlin in Russia

“Visiting Our Daughter’s Russian Orphanage”

Three years after her adoption, we returned to our daughter's Russian orphanage to visit her caregivers and friends there.

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"Why did infertility still haunt me even after becoming a mother through adoption?"

“Buying the Lie About Infertility and Adoption”

Somehow, somewhere in my mind I believed that becoming a mother through adoption would erase my infertility. But one pregnancy announcement after another from family and friends soon made it clear that this was far from the truth.

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A flower garden of tulips

“A Child’s Garden”

First I looked through the pages of Adoptive Families with a sense of duty. Then, the hope I felt looking at the made me realize, "I want to adopt a child."

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opening the envelope, what woud the paternity test results say about this man who might be our child's birth father?

The Paternity Test, Part 2: “The Results”

After meeting a man who thought he might be our daughter’s birth father, we were all invested in the idea of an open adoption relationship—but how would the test come back?

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A young refugee, sponsored by a family

“You Have Thousands of Angels Around You”

How one young woman lost her family, survived a war, escaped two continents, and through the kindness of strangers found a lifelong home in Atlanta.

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birth family meeting at a restaurant

The Paternity Test, Part 1: “I Hope It’s Them”

When our daughter was born, her birth mom listed the birth father as “unknown.” Ten years later, he found us on social media and reached out.

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We considered adopting a second child, but eventually decided to grow our family by adding a dog, instead

“A Different Kind of Sister”

My partner and I thought long and hard about whether we wanted to adopt a second child. We decided to adopt a puppy-sister for our daughter instead.

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My cardiologist's discussion of adopting his daughter opened my heart to the idea of adoption

“My Cardiologist Opened My Heart to Adoption”

The defective structure of my physical heart ultimately led my emotional heart to pause and consider—do I try for pregnancy, or for parenthood through adoption?

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