Since I was young, the month of November has always held a special place in my heart. Not only is it National Adoption Awareness Month, but on November 14, my family celebrates my “Gotcha Day.” The phrase “Gotcha Day” is used as the name for the day that an adopted person officially becomes part of a family. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am adopted. When I was 18 months old, I was adopted from Russia. On November 14, I came home and started my life as part of the Stumo-Langer family.
Being an adopted person is nothing like you see in TV or movies. There was never a suspenseful moment when my parents had to sit me down and reveal to me that I was adopted. It was always something that I was taught to be proud of. It was something I was taught to embrace. Growing up, my mom made sure to implement and teach my Russian culture. We celebrated Russian holidays and feasted on Russian cuisine on the regular. As I grew up, my mom always shared stories of my adoption with me. She loves to share the memory of the moment when she met me for the first time. She always tells me that “in that moment, I knew my family was complete.”
The story of my adoption wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t know a little bit about my mom. My mom is a fierce woman. She is a fighter. She is a person who would do anything for her friends and more importantly, her family. My mom is an empath by nature which makes sense considering she is a nurse. She has grown up constantly taking care of people through her job or her personal life. Before I came home, she learned Russian for me so she could communicate with her newly adopted daughter to some degree. She traveled across the world to a foreign country just to adopt me. She made sacrifices for her family on a daily basis. She even went on UNPAID maternity leave so she could take care of me after I came home from Russia. My mom is the rock of our family, and I can’t thank her enough for what she has done for me and how she has changed my life forever. Without her, I don’t know if I would be here today—literally. Love you mom!
Although being adopted has been an incredibly positive part of my life, there have been moments where people have reacted very poorly to the news of me being from a different country. When I was in middle school, students loved to make fun of the fact that I was not born in the United States. I had horrible things said to me when I was young. I had kids tell me to “go back to Russia, no one wants you here.” I had kids theorize why I was given up for adoption. They would say things like “the reason your mom gave you up for adoption was because she never loved you.” All in all, middle school was rough but I got through it. Once I got to high school, things started to turn around. I continued to share the story of my adoption, except now, students appreciated it. They thought it was interesting. This was the first time I felt like people were listening to my story.
This is why celebrating National Adoption Awareness Month is so important. It’s important because it spreads awareness of different services regarding adoption. It’s also really important because it sheds some light on what adopted people have gone through. The media does a really good job on misinforming people on what adoption truly is and how difficult it can be. So don’t forget to support your fellow adoptees and spread awareness about adoption this November!