If you didn't know, November is National Adoption Month! It's extra special too because November happens to be the actual month I was adopted! In honor of National Adoption Month, I wanted to share my adoption story.

When I was little, my mom used to read me a book called Horace. The children's book was about a cheetah cub who had been adopted by two tigers. Every night when his mom tucked him into bed, she would tell him "we chose when you were a tiny baby because you lost your family and needed a new one. We liked your spots and wanted you to be our child." (Keller 1991) Horace, the cheetah cub, always fell asleep before his mom could finish his adoption story. Horace feels out of place - he loves his mom and dad but wonders where he came from, so he goes on an adventure to find where he came from.

I have never felt like Horace. I am the only African-American in my family, yet I have never felt out of place. I have never not felt loved and accepted by my family. I have always known this family is my family, and exactly where God wanted me to be. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I have what is called a closed adoption. What this means is, I do not have direct contact with my birth parents. When I turned 18, I was allowed to reach out to Bethany Christian Services, which is the agency I was adopted through, to attempt to meet my birth parents. However, 23 years later, and I have yet to do so. But I will get to why later.

Before I came around. My mom, Constance, had a very difficult pregnancy with my big sister Kathryn. My sister Kate turned out healthy and gorgeous! But her doctors advised her to consider things strongly if she wanted to have another child. My mom and dad both wanted another child, but they kept this in mind. Both my mom and my dad Gary felt called to adopt.

If you are not familiar with how adoption works, first a disclaimer: every story is different! So I am not stating that this is exactly how it works each time, I can only speak to the process my parents went through. For them, my parents were interviewed by Bethany Christian, and then their information was sent to many different people who were seeking to put their children up for adoption. My parents did not specify gender, race, ethnicity, etc. Typically, you do not know who is interested in you until further down the line. My sister was five years old at the time of my adoption. Before I was born, my sister started to pray "Dear God, please let my little sister or brother arrive here safely. Amen." My parents were pretty confused... while they were going through the process of adoption, they had not been selected to be parents yet, let alone would they have told my sister she was for sure getting a sibling. My parents would say "Kate, mom isn't pregnant! You aren't getting a little brother or sister." She would reply "Yes we are. God told me so just trust me." Closer to my birth, my sister decided she definitely wanted a sister. She even then described what I would look like. And she started to give me a name: Anna.

Finally, my parents got the call that they were going to be parents again. My birth mom had met my parents once during the interview process. She said she picked my parents because my mom resembled my birth mom - both are blonde-haired, blue-eyed, and fair skinned. When my parents came to meet me for the first time, I fit the exact description my sister had been praying for - and although I did not have a name, they knew right away that I would be Anna, just as my sister had decided.

I was born on November 11th, 1995, and I was born with a staph infection. This kept me in the hospital for eleven days. Once I was healthy enough to go home, my parents brought me home on November 21st. While I look different from my family and I am not their biological daughter, I have never questioned my place in their family. I love my family so very much. My adoption is the biggest blessing of my life, and every single day I feel so lucky that I get to call my family mine.

Adoption is such a gift, and it is a true sacrifice for those who choose to give their children a better life. This month honors those in need of adoption, those who have adopted, and those who have been adopted. It is such a special thing to be a part of that. I know my parents love my "spots" and I love their stripes. To those who were adopted, Happy National Adoption Month. Share your stories - they are special and so are you.