I could write a thousand-word essay about how the foster care system failed me.

Instead, I choose to say that I could write a million-word essay about how the same system also granted me parents who love me more than life.

As a kid who grew up knowing both my adoptive and biological parents, I struggled emotionally. I was forced to say "I love you" to people who might have brought me into the world but were complete strangers in my eyes. I had separation anxiety basically my entire life, and never wanted to leave home, as being with my adoptive parents was my emotional safe haven.

Adopting a child isn't a simple task, its time consuming and can be emotionally and financially exhausting. As I'm now grown up, I've realized the great sacrifices my parents both made in order to give me the best life possible. For my dad, that meant working long hours to pay bills and put food on the table. I don't remember him verbally telling me he loved me very often as a little kid, but looking back, I realized he showed it through so many different ways. Whether it was watching the Barney movie with me for the fiftieth time, laying by my side until I fell asleep at night when I was scared, or making me toaster waffles before school, I knew without a doubt my dad loved me.

I was emotionally abused by my biological father, and to this day I still struggle with trusting men, seeing as the very first one I met in the world let me down. I've been called names, threatened, and guilt tripped more times than I can count. Every time it hits me, I turn to the dad who made sacrifices for me, is always a listening ear, and gives the best hugs.

In a few short months, I start my junior year of college and move into my first apartment. While my dad and I won't be able to watch the ten o'clock news together every night or make spontaneous trips to Culver's, I want him to know that he is still my hero no matter how old I get. After all, this girl can't change her own oil.